Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Wilton Park’

AEJ-UK at 50

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 29th September, 2018

AEJ Brexit seminarWith Brexit looming on the horizon, there is not much for pro-Europeans to celebrate. However, yesterday afternoon the UK section of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ)  held a seminar at Europe House in Westminster to mark 50 years of its existence. The theme was UK-EU Relations beyond Brexit, which most speakers were agreed would need to remain close — both on economics and security matters — even if Brexit does go ahead on 29 March 2019. However, several contributors, such as the former Whitehall mandarin Sir Martin Donnelly and the anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, minced no words about Brexit being a mistake and held out hope that somehow it could be averted. In contrast, the former Labour MP and arch-Brexiteer Gisela Stuart (soon to take up the position of Chair of the FCO’s policy forum, Wilton Park) maintained that the voters had made the right choice in the 2016 EU Referendum and that the result had to be respected.

Given the audience — which included over a dozen journalists from other AEJ sections, from Ireland to Cyprus and Bulgaria — there was quite a lot of discussion about the role of the media in Brexit. Quentin Peel, former Financial Times correspondent in Brussels, admitted hat he had been lucky in working for an employer who wanted to know the details of complex European matters which were also of interest to the paper’s readers, whereas Peter Foster, Europe Editor of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, outlined the difficulty of covering the European story in ways accessible to the general public. The name of the Telegraph’s “star” columnist, Boris Johnson, was unsurprisingly bandied about, as people recalled his fabrication of anti-EU stories early in his career and now his championing of his own Brexit scenario. I was based in Brussels myself for eight years, initially with Reuters news agency, and it was there that I first joined the AEJ (French-speaking Belgian section). The everyday minutiae of news from the European Commission were challenging to convey in an interesting fashion, but the longer I stayed in Brussels and began to understand the purpose of the European project, the more I believed in its aims — which is why the prospect of Brexit does sometimes keep me awake at night and why I will continue to fight for Remain, probably via a People’s Vote or new referendum on whatever terms Theresa May’s government agrees with the other 27 EU member states, always assuming agreement is possible.


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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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