ON 23 AUGUST 1989 at 7pm, two million people across Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania joined hands, forming a 675km long human chain from Tallin, via Riga, all the way to Vilnius. This peaceful demonstration stretched the distance from London to Glasgow. Thirty years on, Ambassador of Latvia Baiba Braže recalls her involvement in one of the most unique expressions of non-violent protest the world had ever seen. The remarkable lengths people went to for a united Europe make a noteworthy historical counterpoint to the events of today.
Back to the present day. At the time of going to print, former PM Harold Wilson’s famous phrase “A week is a long time in politics” has never seemed more appropriate. The new Prime Minister is just six weeks into the new role, and events are galloping along in Parliament. As they attempt to follow and report back on all this, it’s hard to imagine how London’s diplomatic community are getting any other work done at all. So, in his regular column on Westminster, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP tackles just one of these issues: the constitutional legitimacy surrounding recent events in Parliament. He notes, “this House of Commons has demonstrated a tendency to wound the government, but a reluctance to kill it.” We shall see…
A little further away, but no less alarming, Diplomatcovers a forbidding issue that is not being recognised by global powers for the health emergency that it is. APCO Worldwide Executive Director Simon McGee, who served at the UK Department for International Development and Foreign Office during the 2014-16 epidemic of Ebola, reflects on why this latest outbreak is more perilous than the last – and argues that only diplomacy can save the day.
Former UK Ambassador Charles Crawford tackles the “political and media tsunami” experienced by the UK’s Ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darruch. He asks should ambassadors report back their full and honest views? What if those views leak? The Times’s Michael Binyon says that former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s new book might be the key to working out the enigma that is Iran. His timely account goes some way to explain the country’s “almost obsessive distrust of Britain.”
For some time, I’ve observed that governments around the world are sending their top diplomats to the UK to try and make some sense of Brexit, and seize any opportunities that might arise in the months ahead. So, Diplomatcontinues to review the credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting the Ambassadors of Bulgaria, Norway and the UAE, along with the High Commissioners for Kenya and Malaysia. UAE Ambassador Mansoor Abulhoul has pledged to cycle the length of the UK from John o’ Groats to Land’s End as a way of getting to know the UK and it’s people, and working out the best way to engage with them. His youthful, hands-on approach is definitely a first for an ambassador accredited to the Court of St James’s!
In the lifestyle pages, Diplomat ventures up to Edinburgh for a stay in the newly converted lighthouse ship of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Diplomat also revels in the glittering past of the Hotel Café Royal, marvelling at its latest incarnation, while enjoying an outstandingly delicious meal at Chutney Mary in St James.
We also continue to help diplomats with the ongoing logistical issues that they come across throughout the year. In this issue, we include profiles of some of London’s best hotels, chauffeurs and property consultants, also highlighting Leo Trippi’s hands-on approach to organising trips to the World Economic Forum. Celebrating its 50th anniversary next year (21st to 24th January 2020), this annual meeting draws political, diplomatic and business leaders together to discuss and shape the global agenda. From accommodation to event organising, security and booking speakers, Leo Trippi will organise it all. Contact them ASAP!
Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice for the months ahead, including information on an exhibition from the House of African Art, showcasing established and emerging artists from Africa and the diaspora, plus a new spotlight exhibition at the National Army Museum exploring the changing roles of women in the British Army.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
VENETIA DE BLOCQ VAN KUFFELER