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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Turkey

1st September 2015

Gallipoli, Greenwich and Istanbul

Two hundred Scouts gather on a parade ground for a flag ceremony, surrounded by trees.  As the morning sun raises the temperature into the humid mid-30’s, the flags of Turkey, the UK, Egypt, Serbia and other countries are raised into the Istanbul skies.
I was delighted recently to visit Istanbul’s largest Scouting centre at Umraniye on the Asian side of the city.  A group of 20 scouts with their leaders from Greenwich, in South East London, was spending a week meeting Turkish Scouts in Istanbul plus three days at Gallipoli, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign.
I’ve been a fan of the idea of bringing together young people from different countries to get to know each other since being the beneficiary of school exchange programmes with France and Germany in my teens.  The idea that both sides benefit by bringing together teenagers from different countries, and that such visits can help counter stereotypes and xenophobia, makes good sense.
During my visit I see that the Greenwich Scouts have been matched up with a notably friendly- and with-it-seeming group of Turkish counterparts.  Their programme in Istanbul looks great, with activities on a single day including everything from swimming to orienteering, archery, sailing and horse riding.  The planned three-day visit to Gallipoli looks like a striking opportunity to experience at first hand the stark and sombre landscape where the events of a century ago unfolded.
Turkish, British and other international scouts at the flag-raising ceremony
I was honoured during my visit to meet a senior representative of the Turkish Scouting movement, Mr Ramazan Kartal, and the head of the British Scout group, John Sweeney.  I hope that the contacts between British and Turkish Scouts in this 100th anniversary year will help develop lasting links between the two organisations; and further promote practical co-operation and understanding between the UK and Turkey.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.