Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of UK in Hungary

14th August 2014 Budapest, Hungary

Sziget Adventures – Day 1

Guest blog by Theresa Bubbear, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Budapest.

In 2012 I blogged about my first experience of Sziget.  Yesterday I went back to see what was happening and what had changed.

This year’s festival is bigger and better than ever, with 400,000 visitors expected and some top bands playing.  The organisation is slick, with helpful multilingual staff all over the island and clear signs everywhere.  The range of stalls and eating places is impressive, as is the number of small stages and the opportunities to experience everything from bungee jumping to Hungarian folk dancing.  We heard almost every European language as we strolled around in the sunshine, and in front of the main stage there were hundreds of flags of all nationalities and regions swaying to the beat of Imagine Dragons in the evening.

But we were there to work.  So we headed for the Civil Village to visit some of the NGOs the Embassy supports.  We started with a press conference at the Human Trafficking Awareness tent, organised by the Interior Ministry.  My Austrian, Belgian, Dutch and Swiss colleagues and I spoke at a press conference with the Deputy State Secretary responsible for human trafficking.


We all noted our excellent co-operation with Hungarian law enforcement agencies and some good progress in terms of arrests, but there is always more to do and this issue is high on the agenda for the UK.  From there we moved to the Jewish Meeting Point tent where my colleague Levi and I answered some questions about Jewish traditions.



We did quite well on those (and Levi beat me on a giant board game involving famous Jewish people – mostly because I kept landing on Hungarian Nobel prizewinners whose photos I didn’t recognise, while he was getting Hollywood stars), but we struggled a bit at the Israeli Cultural Institute where we had to match photos to different branches of Judaism (Sufi, Druze etc).  We then moved on to Ask a Rabbi, where for HUF10 (less than 3p) you can ask a Rabbi anything you like.  I had a very helpful Rabbi who talked optimistically about the situation of Hungary’s Jewish population, and also gave an interesting view on the holocaust (“yes, it happened to us, but we’ve dealt with it. Now others need to do the same”).  We had an interesting discussion – and I didn’t charge the Rabbi for the questions he asked me.



Feeling happy with our successes in various quizzes we moved on to the Hungarian LGBT Association’s tent, where our winning streak came to an end.  We struggled with almost all the questions about same sex marriages across Europe and the dates on which legislation was enacted or lifted in various countries.  Some of the answers were surprising, some shocking – and we couldn’t guess most of them, although we were quite good on the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.

On our way out we bumped into the two British policeman who are patrolling the festival at the invitation of the Budapest police.  Our bobbies are always a great hit and this year is no exception – PCs Steve and Natalie were mobbed everywhere they went.  They are handing out prizes to anyone who takes a photo or selfie with them and puts it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #Spotthebobby.


The afternoon ended with another press conference, this time for Transparency International, where I spoke with my Dutch, French and Norwegian colleagues and then gave interviews for TV and radio.  It was good to see the festival’s Programme Director, Fruzsina Szép, at the TI tent, speaking out for transparency, chatting to visitors in 4 languages, and encouraging us all to have fun.


I was tweeting all afternoon. You can see some of the photos at @ukinhungary or @TBubbearFCO.  And there’s more to come as I’m going back today to wrestle with obstacle courses and Rubik’s cube.  And give a press conference with the famous bobbies.  Then, duty done, I hope to enjoy some music and remind myself what Sziget is really all about.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the British government.

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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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