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Luxembourg report Luxembourg report
by Euro Reporter
2011-02-27 11:26:54
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Luxembourg Foreign Minister visits Gaza

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Assleborn on Friday urged both the Palestinians and Israelis to "avoid violence and work hard to reach a peaceful solution to the prolonged conflict." During a briefing at the UNRWA office in Gaza City, after a short visit to Gaza's fishing port, Assleborn told reporters, "In a few hours, I will leave to Tel Aviv, and my message to Israel is very clear. If you care for your children please care for and love the children in Gaza and give them a possibility to live under better and normal conditions."

He asserted that the Gaza Strip should be rebuilt and highlighted that 11 percent of the projects proposed by UNRWA have been approved by Israel. Of these projects 100 were schools, he said, and the Israeli side okayed 22 of them. Although Luxembourg is a small country, he added, it sends aid to UNRWA and the Gaza Strip.

Assleborn expressed his hopes that the Palestinians would finalize a unity deal.  "The government which will comply with the International Quartet's demands and improve life conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is getting better," he said.  The official, who did not meet Hamas leaders, called on the captors of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him.


Luxembourg businesses can't find the right candidates

Although Luxembourg attracts workers from a wide mix of nationalities and backgrounds, it is sometimes difficult to find the right person for the job, particularly in highly-skilled positions.  Out of the 1,500 companies interviewed by the Luxembourg statistics agency, 39% in the banking sector complained of finding it difficult to fill posts. In real estate and business services 31% said it is too hard to find qualified staff members.

For the trade and manufacturing industry, however, it is less problematic. 14% of companies said that recruiting the right candidate in Luxembourg is hard. It is estimated from the survey statistics that just over 4% of job vacancies in Luxembourg are unable to be filled at all. 22% of vacancies are very difficult to recruit and in 3% of cases firms are forced to accept a candidate of a lower qualification than originally specified.

Sectoral differences do not always depend on how specific the job vacancy is. Rather, as the survey points out, some sectors experience fewer problems than others due to factors to do with the field of work rather than the qualifications needed for the position. If an attractive salary and a collective agreement on working terms can be obtained, it's undeniably more enticing to a candidate no matter the field of work.


Luxembourg lauds Turkey as 'reference' for Arab reform

Luxembourg's foreign minister called on Arab nations Tuesday to take Turkey as a "reference" for democratic reform and lent support to the country's struggling EU membership bid. Transformations in Arab countries are very important for people in these countries and I'm convinced that Turkey can be a reference... that democracy and Islam are not in opposition," Jean Asselborn said. "Taking the example of Turkey, Turkey shows that this is possible," he told reporters after talks with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Asselborn said he was on a Middle East tour that would take him also to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories, including Gaza, without giving details on his itinerary. Following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, many observers have pointed at Turkey, a non-Arab secular democracy, as a model for other countries in the Muslim world. Turkey however remains under pressure for further reform as its membership talks with the European Union face the risk of grinding to a halt amid rows over Cyprus issue and strong opposition to its accession in EU heavyweights France and Germany. "Turkey has accomplished a lot of reforms... Turkey has to continue... I'm convinced that the EU will be stronger with Turkey and can play a very, very important role globally," Asselborn said.

"In Europe, we have to continue to convince our people that Turkey should be not only an ally but also a member of our union. Maybe it could take a few more years... but stopping the process will be a mistake," he said. Davutoğlu slammed "discouragements" in the accession talks but vowed that EU membership remained a "strategic" objective for Ankara. "It's a test for the EU... It's up to the leaders of the EU to decide the future of our relations," Davutoğlu said. "For us, EU membership was a strategic decision... and will continue to be a strategic decision," he added. Out of the 35 policy chapters that candidates must negotiate, Turkey has opened talks on only 13 since the accession negotiations began in 2005. Eight chapters remain frozen as a sanction to Turkey's refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels under a trade pact with the EU, with several others blocked by France.

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