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Central European Time Zone UTC+01:00

 Capital City Copenhagen

Currency Danish krone

National Day  5 June.

His Excellency Mr Lars Thuesen
Royal Danish Embassy
55 Sloane Street
London SW1X 9SR
T:  020 7333 0200
F: 020 7333 0270
E: lonamb@um.dk

Denmark’s new Ambassador His Excellency Mr Lars Thuesen arrived in London last September. His family remain in Copenhagen, but his wife Jeanine will join him shortly. This set-up has offered him an opportunity to dive into diplomatic life: “Sometimes I receive four to five invitations a day: from meetings with think tanks, universities, other embassies and companies to panel discussions, cultural events and exhibition openings. The huge number of interesting and relevant activities in London is overwhelming. There are many possibilities, so I really have to prioritise and manage my diary carefully.”

He has been bemused but also surprised to observe such heated confrontation in British politics. “Brexit is the most politicised issue: it is dividing not only society, but also the major  parties. Britain is such an open society that these conflicts are made public.” He continues: “We are sad that the UK is leaving the EU, but also fully respect the decision. We know about referendums in Denmark too.”

Mr Thuesen knew from a young age that he wanted to become a diplomat. “Of course, I didn’t really know what that involved!” he remarks. The first member of his family to become a public servant, he went on to hold managerial positions in the Communication, Press and Culture as well as Consular services departments in the Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen. One of the most memorable events of his career took place during the latter role, when the war broke out between Israel and Lebanon in the summer of 2006. “Unbeknownst to us, we had 6,000 Danes in Lebanon on holiday at the time. After a carefully planned operation including 30 airplanes, 100 buses and 100 staff from the Ministry on the ground in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, we got our citizens  back to Denmark safe and sound within a week. After a tense start, the operation was a huge success, which was a high point.”

Over the years, Mr Thuesen’s diplomatic posts took him to Mexico, New York and Spain twice. EU affairs has been on the ongoing thread in his career: working on treaty changes, EU enlargements, presidencies and coordination of the Danish EU policy. As Managing Director of Denmark’s Trade Council, the Foreign Ministry’s governmental export and investment organisation, Mr Thuesen was also regularly the Danish representative at the Council of Ministers in Brussels concerning trade policy. “For the past six years, I’ve been involved in EU trade negotiations with countries from all over the world.”

Mr Thuesen’s Consular, EU and trade experience meant he was a natural fit to be Ambassador in the UK. “I’ve been working with EU affairs for half of my 30-year career at the ministry. The trade experience has been extremely helpful, as a big chunk of Brexit negotiations is about trade. As the UK is the country with the most Danes living outside Denmark, we also have a huge consular department at the Embassy.”

He’s keen to highlight his posting’s key priority: “doing my part in forging this new relationship between the EU27 and the UK. There’s a huge interest in Brexit back home, and we have so many Danish delegations coming to London.” Optimistic for the future bilateral relationship, Mr Thuesen says “there are so many ties between the UK and Denmark politically, economically and culturally. Danish companies are huge investors in the UK; the UK is our fourth largest trading partner; the Danes and British always go hand-in-hand in military operations, and there are so many links in the European Union.”

Is Mr Thuesen hopeful for exciting economic opportunities to emerge? “Brexit is not the end of the world, but it is going to complicate our commercial and political connections.” He continues: “We are so likeminded, and share the same interests, and we want a strong prosperous Britain to trade with as we’ve done for centuries. In the future, I’m sure that we will have a great trade deal between the UK and the EU. But the problem is that it’s going to take time. Progress has been made, but there are difficult negotiations ahead of us.”

What does he think is Denmark’s greatest diplomatic challenge? “For a small country like Denmark the greatest challenge is unpredictability in world politics and insecurity in a changing world order.” He lists a dramatically changing security situation in Europe; a Middle East in turmoil and an immigration problem, among others. And then of course, there’s Brexit and the future of Europe. It doesn’t matter what issue we are discussing in London. It always comes back to Brexit.”


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