Eastern European Time Zone UTC+02:00
Capital City Athens
National Day March 25
Greece’s new Ambassador His Excellency Dimitris Caramitsos-Tziras arrived in London last summer with his wife Margarita Mavromichalis, a photographer. A family reunion of sorts, they were welcomed by their two daughters in the UK, who are studying and working here.
He observes how diverse society is in London: “I think that one of London’s greatest strengths is that it offers an open and tolerant living and working environment. I’m particularly impressed and happy to live in such an environment.”
Brought up in a family of diplomats, Mr Caramitsos-Tziras joined the Greek Foreign Service in 1983; he believed it would be fulfilling to support his country’s image and interests abroad. He served at Greek diplomatic missions in Montreal as Alternate Representative to ICAO (1989-1991), in Cape Town as Consul (1991-94) and in Sofia as First Counsellor for Political Affairs (1994-98). Back home and between these appointments, he worked for the UN and EU Directorates of the Hellenic Foreign Ministry.
From 2002 to 2005, Mr Caramitsos-Tziras joined the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games Organising Committee as General Manager in charge of Personnel and Volunteers and member of the Games Operation Committee and Operations Centre in charge of Personnel and Volunteers. He fondly recalls the Opening Ceremony on 13 August 2004, as “the culmination of a unique national and personal endeavour.”
Upon his return to the Foreign Service, Mr Caramitsos-Tziras was Coordinator for Anti-Terrorism and Head of the Crisis Management Unit at the MFA. In 2005, he was nominated Consul General in Los Angeles (2005-09) and thereafter Greece’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN (2009-13).
Back in Athens in December 2013, Mr Caramitsos-Tziras was assigned Chief Officer of the 2014 Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the EU, which he describes as “a complicated task, especially for a small administration.” He continues: “I was fortunate that it was the fifth Greek EU Presidency, so we had adequate expertise among the public sector.” He believes his experience working for the Athens Olympics helped tremendously. “We successfully completed the Presidency using half of the originally allocated budget, thanks to a wide sponsorship and a frugal administration.”
As of September the following year, Mr Caramitsos-Tziras was nominated Director General of the Foreign Ministry in charge of EU Affairs. During this assignment he dealt initially with the EU’s effort to keep the UK within the EU and, subsequently, with the outcome of last year’s referendum. “Given that this issue dominates discussions in the UK and in the EU27, technically it is familiar to me. But no matter the outcome, I am confident that the UK and EU will find the best possible platform to base their new relationship.”
As Ambassador in the UK, Mr Caramitsos-Tziras will use this expertise and experience to explore the full potential of UK-Greece relations by taking advantage of all opportunities. “There is potential for redeveloping or increasing our trade and cultural relations; for working together on security and migration issues; taking care of the large expatriate communities in both countries and building on our strong existing political dialogue.” He continues: “As the new post-Brexit era comes into play, we will have to be active and inventive in looking for new areas of cooperation.” He continues that Greece relies on the strength of its diaspora, and “we acknowledge that the UK has welcomed many Greek scientists, academics, professionals and businessmen who have gone on to successfully establish themselves here.”
Clearly proud of his country, Mr Caramitsos-Tziras observes “In the past 50 years, Greece made significant advances. As EU, eurozone and NATO members, Greece is a stable country, with good-neighbourly relations and investment opportunities.” He concedes that Greece is not without its diplomatic challenges. “We are situated in an area that produces instability. We are actively supporting the EU membership of all the countries in the region, and are working in partnership with our EU partners to overcome the current economic crisis.”
Mr Caramitsos-Tziras reminisces that during his career he has lived and worked through some interesting times: “I was in South Africa when the transfer of power took place, I witnessed the transition of post-communist Bulgaria to democracy, worked for the Athens Olympics, and I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing and important personalities around the world.” Tapping into his great European expertise in the UK at such a crucial time for the continent, perhaps the most interesting time is yet to come…