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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 Austria

20th September 2016 Vienna, Austria

A Tyrolean Squirrel’s Tail

Servus Österreich!

When I arrived at the British Embassy in Vienna on 29 August 2016 one of my first meetings was with my excellent Press and Public Affairs (PPA) team.

Part of the work of diplomats is to explain to people what we do; and draw attention to good things that link our countries together.  For example, if a brilliant Austrian student wins a British Council Global Study Award, it’s right that we should highlight that.

Result: we draw attention to the work of the British Council and to studying in the UK as well as Jürgen’s achievement. And, with luck, even more people will apply for future British Council initiatives.

That’s why the British Embassy in Vienna has a rather good Facebook page (please Like us!); and why I have both a Twitter account and an Instagram account (I’ll be delighted if you follow me on either, or both).

The UK is doing a lot of good stuff in Austria.  We want people to know about it and join in.

Another part of the message is that diplomats are human beings and are interested in the countries to which they’re posted.  In my last job, in Istanbul, I had a Twitter hashtag called #reasonstolikeIstanbul – I did 638 of them altogether, although I know there are many more reasons to like Istanbul than that.

Here in Austria I’ve started a series called #keenonWien, though I’m open to better suggestions!  So far they don’t have numbers.

The above-mentioned PPA team, meanwhile, had a great idea: why not do an introductory video setting out what my job involved?  To add interest, I could speak German, and use some words from Austria’s diverse dialects, including Viennese (Wienerisch) and Tyrolean (Tirolerisch).

So I did – watch it here (in German):

Apart from the challenges of getting my mouth around such tongue-twisters as “Oachkatzlschwoaf” (Tyrolean dialect for a squirrel’s tail) and “strawanzen” (Vienna dialect for “wandering around”), the video was a great opportunity to deliver messages about my work as Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the International Organisations in Vienna.

By bringing together the dialect and the message, we were able to reach a wider audience than we might have done with a “straight” message video.  Since we published the video on 13 September it’s been watched more than 4,000 times on YouTube and 5,000 times on Facebook.

Response has been positive, with lots of warm tweets from Austria and beyond, and press coverage including the kind headline in the on-line edition of Austria’s most-read newspaper the Kronen Zeitung (in German)British Ambassador conquers Austria’s hearts”.

After the next two weeks, when I’m expecting to spend most of my time at the UN attending the IAEA Board of Governors and the IAEA General Conference, I look forward to visiting more of the Austrian regions.

I’ll report back on what I find – including any fascinating new dialect words.

3 comments on “A Tyrolean Squirrel’s Tail

  1. Congratulation to your promotion! im sure you will do well!
    Austria is a place where you can have the lifestyle and the security like no where else in the world! please enjoy our beautiful country!

    Kindes Regards

  2. Good Luck in the new role and congratulations on a promotion. Don’t forget about the old country Ukraine where you did a sterling job. Looking forward to hearing about business opportunities for my customers in North West.
    Bohdan Ratycz | International Trade Adviser | North West International Trade Team|
    Department for International Trade | 56 Oxford Street | Manchester M60 7HJ | Mob: +44 (0)7803 115706| Tel: +44 (0) 333 320 0392 | E-mail: bohdan.ratycz@tradenw.org

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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.