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2017 December January

IT’S BEEN TEN YEARS since the collapse of Lehman Brothers; since British and American governments pumped trillions into the banking system, saving some institutions and abandoning others. The crash of 2008/09 shook the foundations of modern capitalism.

So where are we today? We face a whole set of new challenges that we never could have predicted. Uncertain global security. Brexit. “It doesn’t matter what issue we are discussing in London. It always comes back to Brexit,” said one Ambassador I met this month. These pressures mean that governments continue to send their most experienced diplomats to London to negotiate these challenges. They’re here to make some sense of Brexit and the implications for diplomacy with the UK going forward, and of course, make the most of any trade opportunities that may arise as a result. In this issue, Diplomat reviews the credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting the Ambassadors of Croatia, Denmark, Iceland and Tunisia.

2018 is a commemorative and celebratory year: it’s the centenary of the end of World War I, and we highlight 100 years of the Baltic states. In this jam-packed issue, we have contributions from the Ambassadors for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, along with the Ambassador of Austria, who write reflective articles on their countries’ 100th birthdays. It’s a time to reflect on the past and look to the future. And did you know that Latvians are among the most multilingual people in Europe? Almost everyone is bilingual, and more than 60 per cent are trilingual!

The Ambassador of Hungary writes a piece on his country’s Presidency of the Visegrad Group. He says a strong Europe needs a strong Central Europe. Diplomatic Correspondent for BBC News James Landale asks if using humour in diplomacy is an effective tool or a dangerous game. Diplomat has a preview of the new US Embassy and The Times’s Michael Binyon recounts Sir Christopher Mallaby’s experiences as Britain’s Ambassador in Bonn and the twists and turns of getting Mrs Thatcher to agree to German unification.

Ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April, in which Heads of State and VIPs from 51 states will descend on the capital, Diplomat reviews the best hotel suites with the appropriate facilities for high-level visits. These suites have to be seen to be believed. We enjoy comfort food at the Cubitt House group’s latest offering, The Coach Makers Arms.

Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and arts reviews, including the Tara Donovan exhibition at Pace London and Charles I’s extraordinary art collection reunited at The Royal Academy of Arts. Finally, I always want to hear from you, our readers, on article suggestions, new appointments, local news and other embassy events that you would like covered. Please contact me on vvk@diplomatmagazine.com

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