Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Diplomat Magazine’

11th London Diplomat of the Year Awards

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 29th April, 2019

3D20EDF9-8D9B-4C61-AA2A-CFC139A2AFB6The London diplomatic corps was out in force this evening at the Carlton Towers Hotel in Belgravia for the 11th annual Diplomat of the Year Awards, organised by Diplomat magazine. The publication has actually been going for more than 70 years, and I have written for it on occasions in the past, but the awards ceremony has taken it to new levels. The awards, based on voting by diplomats themselves, are an occasion to celebrate the achievements of colleagues. And rather as in international football tournaments, supporters from each region come out in force to cheer the winners. Appropriately this year the new partnership with the charity Football Diplomacy was highlighted. This helps give opportunities for divided or opposing communities to come together through sport to help engender mutual understanding and peace. The main awards tonight, given on a regional basis, were won by the Ambassadors of Afghanistan, Cuba, Finland, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, the UAE and Uruguay. Honourable mention, as always, deservedly, for the doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Khaled Al-Duwaisan, Ambassador of Kuwait, who has been in post for an astonishing 26 years.

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Tata Diplomat Awards 2018

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 24th April, 2018

Diplomat awards 2018Last night I was at the Jumeirah Carlton Towers in Knightsbridge for the annual Diplomat Awards, arranged by Diplomat magazine — for which I have sometimes written — and sponsored by the Tata group (among others). This is the opportunity London’s sizable diplomatic community has to recognise outstanding members within its own ranks. Laureates are chosen within geographical regions and last night’s winners were the Ambassadors or High Commissioners of Algeria, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Malawi and Papua New Guinea, with special awards for the wife of the Cypriot High Commissioner, a young diplomat award for the Press and Culture secretary of the Italian Embassy and an institutional award for the International Maritime Organisation (IMO — the only UN agency based in London). I became involved with the diplomatic community when I was the Honorary Consul of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to the Court of St. James’s (1991-2000) and as a writer and broadcaster focusing mainly on the Middle East and North Africa I find diplomatic gatherings invaluable for picking up information and making contacts. Diplomats based in London are having a particularly busy time at present, trying to interpret Brexit and its likely consequences, though it is no secret that most believe Britain’s leaving the European Union is an act of folly.

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The 2014 Diplomat of the Year Awards

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 14th April, 2014

Diplomat MagazineKhaled Al DuwaisanFor several years Diplomat Magazine in London has hosted an annual awards ceremony at which members of the diplomatic corps get to laud those of their number deemed worthy of special praise. This year, once more, the event was hosted by the Langham Hotel just opposite BBC Broadcasting House — an elegant establishment that claims to be Europe’s oldest hotel de luxe; it will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. They certainly looked after us all well tonight, along with other sponsors. Veteran broadcaster Martin Lewis was the Master of Ceremonies. The major Diplomat awards are given out regionally to the Ambassador or High Commissioner who has won admiration or affection. It was fitting that the first award went to the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Khaled Al Duwaisan from Kuwait, who is such a fixture of the diplomatic circuit. He has the reputation of getting to seven different events each evening — as well as hosting dinners at his Embassy several times a month — and really has won a place in the hearts of the political establishment in London, as well as his colleagues. He expressed a wish to retire some years ago, but the Emir has understandably wanted him to remain. Other heads of mission who were honoured tonight included the Ambassadors of Kazakhstan, Finland and El Salvador and the High Commissioners of Singapore and Antigua & Barbuda. I suppose to people not on the diplomatic circuit this must all sound like one long jolly. But as someone who has covered diplomatic and international affairs for over 40 years — as well as serving for a decade as Mauritania’s Honorary Consul in London — I know just how many diplomats work 12-14-hour days, and how they need to be on guard even at social events, as well as networking furiously.


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Diplomat Awards 2013

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 29th April, 2013

Ambassador BoomgardenHE Carlos dos SantosThe Langham Hotel, just opposite BBC Broadcasting House, claims with justification to be one of the oldest top-end hotels in Europe. Crown Prince Edward presided over the opening of its grand function room in 1865; this evening, almost a century and a half later, it welcomed the massed ranks of London’s diplomatic corps, at what has become a key date in the capital’s annual social calendar: Diplomat Magazine’s Awards for diplomats of special note, nominated by their peers. It’s true that in the interim the hotel went through some barren years, especially after the Germans dropped a bomb through the roof and the BBC then occupied it for offices. But now it is back to its former glory (despite recently hosting Justin Bieber, on the less than glorious London led of his concert tour). The Awards were presented tonight by Sir Christopher Meyer, former UK Ambassador to to Washington and head of the ill-fated Press Complaints Commission; he is now sucked into the corporate sector and performed with immense slickness and occasional wit. The laureates included the Christian Lady Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain (Middle East), the German Ambassador (who sent a deliciously subversive pro-European Unity message in his absence), the Ambassador of Brazil (South America), the Ambassador of Indonesia (Asia)  and the High Commissioners of Mozambique (Africa) and Trinidad & Tobago (The Americas). The hotel and various sponsors certainly did us all proud and it is a credit to the Diplomat’s owners/editors Hugo and Venetia de Blocq van Kuffeler that they manage to keep the whole enterprise going in these difficult economic times. With over 160 diplomatic missions London as a posting remains one of the highlights of any diplomat’s career and indeed for some being accredited to the Court of St James’s is the crowning of a professional lifetime, even if on occasions (as Sir Christopher wickedly reminded us, in the words of Henry Wotton) they are being sent abroad as honest men (and women these days) to lie for their country.

[photos show HE Georg Boomgaarden, Ambassador of Germany, and HE Carlos dos Santos, High Commissioner of Mozambique]

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Diplomat Magazine’s Awards 2011

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 28th May, 2011

More than four score Heads of Mission from the diplomatic community in London gathered at the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill hotel for the 2011 awards from Diplomat Magazine, for which I write regularly. As Diplomat’s publisher, Hugo de Blocq van Kuffeler, pointed out in his speech, ‘despite the conveniences of modern technology, the tact, persuasiveness, influence and guile of a great diplomat is far more powerful and effective than an e-mail or a letter. Diplomacy is the brain of a nation. It has been said that the quality of a nation’s diplomacy gives it direction and weight.’ London has one of the largest diplomatic communities in the world, so the magazine gives awards for the most remarkable Head of Mission for each geographic region, this year’s laureates being Dr Afnan Al-Shuaiby, Secretary-General of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce (Middle East); HRH Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso, High Commissioner for Lesotho (Africa); HE Mr Keiichi Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan (Asia) — who accepted his award on behalf of the people of Japan, in the wake of one of the worst natural disasters in the world since World War II; HE Mr Otabek Akbarov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan (Eurasia); HE Mr Johan Verbeke, Ambassador of Belgium (Europe); HE Ms Kamela Palma, High Commissioner for Belize (Americas); HE Mr Roberto Jaguaribe, Ambassador of Brazil (South America); Deputy Head of Mission of the Year: Ms Klara Breuer-Rudas (Embassy of Hungary); Outstanding Contribution to Women in Diplomacy: HE Ms Ruth Elizabeth Rouse (High Commissioner for Grenada); Outstanding Contribution to the Consular Corps: Bogdan Kolarov (Embassy of Bulgaria); Young Diplomat of the Year: Mr Marwan Francis (Embassy of Lebanon). The Wilton Park conference centre received a special award for its Distingtuished Contribution to Diplomacy in London.

Photo: Roland Kemp (


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The EU as a Global Player

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 23rd November, 2010

The President of Slovenia, Dr Danilo Turk, was the guest lecturer at an LSE event this evening, taking as his subject the EU as a Global Player: Reality or Illusion? I’ll be writing the event up at much greater length for Diplomat magazine, but a few coments are perhaps warranted earlier. Slovenia is definitely among the ‘good guys’ of the new EU intake of 2004. Indeed, it joined both the euro-zone and Schengen in 2007 and in January 2008 even assumed the Union’s presidency (very competently). But as the first of the former republics of Yugoslavia to join the EU, it inevitably has a particular vision of the Union’s future vocation. Dr Turk — who was a law professor and UN diplomat prior to his becoming Head of State — highlighted what for him is the primorial importance of the EU’s looking East: not just to taking the Western Balkans and Turkey into membership, when they have met the necessary conditions, but also maintaining positive relations with Ukraine and Russia. Of course, the EU is currently beset by the problems of the financial crisis in general and Ireland in particular, but that should not blind us to its global potential, he argued. That means championing our shared set of European values — including human rights — while not lecturing or being condescending to outside powers such as China. Probably the EU is over-respresented at present within the G20, but nonetheless, in the shifting geopolitics and economic balance in the world, the EU can and should be punching more at its natural weight.

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Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Woes

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 10th April, 2009

Protesting outside summits is the flavour of the month. Barely have the G20 demonstrators been pushed out of the City of London than police in the Thai resort of Pattaya are trying to keep red-shirted supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra away from the hotel where leaders from the 10 South East Asian countries are due to gather for an ASEAN summit. In this case, though, the protest and associated anger are essentially domestic, as the demonstrators are calling for the current PM, Abhisit Vejjajiva, to resign. The protest leader, Arismun Pongreungrong, said the Redshirts do not intend to damage anything, but ‘we have to show the world that this government is not democratic.’

It would be a shame if the protests did disrupt the summit, as ASEAN needs a meeting to discuss the region’s approach to the current global economic and financial crisis. Mr Abhisit and the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, were both at the G20 summit in London, but the Pattaya meeting should be more than a report-back from that. As I wrote in an article for the next issue of Diplomat magazine, the situation of the different ASEAN member states varies enomously. Indonesia, for example, still expects to enjoy around four per cent growth this year, whereas Singapore — which is heavily dependent on trade — has seen a sharp contraction. It will be interesting to see if ASEAN can come up with a more united front than the EU has managed to do.

In the meantime, Abhisit has to figure out how to deal with the wave of pro-Thaksin protests that has been sweeping the country for months, as well as the polarisation in Thailand between the Redshirts and the yellow-shirted campaigners of the conservative People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which is close to some members of Abhisit’s government yet also keeping a close eye on the Prime Minister’s performance.

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Austria Confronts Its Past

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 21st February, 2009

Being part of the European Union is partly about forging a new destiny, in partnership with the other 26 member states. But often this involves re-evaluating the past — whether this is a history of conflict, as between Britain, France and Germany, or a period of Communism, or the dark days of dictatorship. Austria is going through such a period of re-evaluation now, in relation to its own Nazi past. There is an old joke that the Austrians perfected the art of spin, by portraying Beethoven as an Austrian and Hitler as a German. But at long last — decades after Germany went through the process — Austria is confronting the Hitler years.

I wrote about this in a article in the current issue of ‘Diplomat’ magazine, focussing on Linz as this year’s European Capital of Culture (alongside the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius). The castle in Linz has a vast exhibition on Hitler’s plans for it as his capital of culture, which includes some chilling film footage of his triumphal entry into the city at the time of the Anschluss. But here in London, too, the Austrians are examining what happened following 1938, with a whole series of lectures and events at their Cultural Forum in Rutland Gate. The next one is a talk on the legacy of Nazi-expropriation in Austria, given by Clemens Jabloner, former Chairman of the Austrian Historical Commission, on Tuesday 3 March at 7pm. Given the rise of anti-semitism in this country, following the Israeli assault on Gaza, it is salutory to be reminded where anti-semitism can lead.

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Brazil’s National Day

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 9th September, 2008

I celebrated Brazilian National Day today by finishing a long feature article on the country for Diplomat magazine, before repairing to the Ambassador’s residence for what is always one of the great lunchtime diplomatic parties of the year. At a time when much of the world is sullen because of the economic downturn, Brazil is buoyant and savouring the prospects offered by huge new discoveries of offshore oil and gas. I spent a month there earlier this year, already picking up the new sense of optimism. Brazil may not have received as much publicity as the other BRICs (Russia, India and China), but it is definitely a country to watch, for all its ongoing environmental and social problems.

Rio de Janeiro is putting in a strong pitch to host the 2016 Olympic Games, in the hope that they can emulate China’s success last month in showcasing their achievements. As the Carnival shows each February, cariocas (inhabitants of Rio) certainly know how to throw a party. If Rio succeeds in its bid, we can be sure that both the federal and state governments will take the thing hugely seriously. And of course, the Brazilians — an estimated 300,000 of whom currently live in Britain, mainly in London and the South East — are eagerly watching how London will prepare for its hosting of the Games in 2012.

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