Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of UK in Hungary

9th August 2012 Budapest, Hungary

Sziget: “First” impressions

Guest blog by chargé d’affaires Theresa Bubbear

Team GB might not have won any medals on 8 August (although we were very happy to see Hungary doing so well), but for me it was a day of firsts: Day 1 of the Festival was also the first anniversary of my arrival in Budapest and I made my first visit to the Sziget Festival and my first speech in Hungarian.

Sziget Festival 2012

I had no idea that Sziget was so big – in any sense. It took us a while to navigate onto and around the island and to find our first appointment, not least because there were so many interesting things to look at and listen to along the way. My first impression was of dust. And more dust. And tents of every shape and size pitched in the most unlikely places and at some unlikely angles. And people. And unexpected snatches of music of every kind.

Our first stop of the day was at a tent set up by the Interior Ministry to raise awareness of human trafficking. The Embassy had helped sponsor this initiative so, with colleagues from the Dutch, German and Austrian Embassies and Deputy State Secretary Krisztina Berta from the Ministry we held a short press conference at the official opening.

Sziget Festival

I had practised my very short Hungarian speech carefully, only to discover that (as the only native English-speaker) I was the only one not speaking English – but it didn’t matter. I gave a short TV interview about the Embassy’s interest in human trafficking and had a go at a quiz on the subject before moving on to some of the other tents.

Sziget Festival

At the Jewish Meeting Point and Israel Cultural Centre tents my colleague Levi and I tested our knowledge of famous Jewish people on a “stepping stone” quiz, learned about the Hebrew alphabet and what my name would look like in Hebrew script and pictograms, and ate a delicious Israeli salad.

Sziget Festival

We have worked closely with a number of Jewish organisations on various projects this year, including a theatre production for schoolchildren, the launch of a book of holocaust poems, and our annual human rights movie day, so it was good to catch up with them again.

Our last stop of the day was at the Hungarian LGBT Association tent and their neighbours the Friss Gondolat Association. Again, the Embassy has close associations with LGBT groups in Hungary. The Ambassador opened this year’s Budapest Pride, I opened the LGBT Business Leaders’ Forum at the EuroGames, and we co-ordinated a joint statement of support for Budapest Pride from 16 embassies.

Sziget Festival

Levi and I were able to identify most of the European countries which allow same-sex marriages or partnerships, but we did less well on identifying famous LGBT faces. All the organisations are looking forward to having lots of visitors to their tents, so if you are at Sziget do go and see them and see if you can beat the Embassy with your quiz scores.

Day 2 brings a water fight in the name of transparency and some US and Hungarian experiences. I’ll let you know how it goes.

About Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take up his post. He left this post on April…

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to
Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take
up his post. He left this post on April 2015.
He has previously held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and
abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate
finance issues. Jonathan has served in a number of positions in the
British Diplomatic Service since joining in 1988:
Before his appointment was Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment in South Korea from 2008 to 2011.Between 2005 and 2008 he held the post of Deputy Finance Director in the FCO.From 2000 to 2005 he served as First Secretary (Trade, Corporate Affairs and Finance Negotiator) in UKDel OECD Paris.From 1996 to 2000 he was First Secretary (Head of Political/Economic/Aid Section) in Mexico.From 1995 to 1996 he worked in the FCO as Deputy European Correspondent at the EU Directorate.Between 1991 and 1995 he served as Third later Second Secretary (Political / Press and Public Affairs) in Havana.From 1990 to 1991 he was Desk Officer in the FCO’s First Gulf War Emergency Unit.Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as Desk Officer in the FCO in the Anti Drugs Cooperation Department.
Jonathan holds an MA in law from Oxford University, and he is a
member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He speaks
English, French, Spanish and Hungarian. He is married to Angela Susan
Knott and has one daughter and two sons.

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