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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

31st October 2017 Vienna, Austria

My year in Vienna: what has changed?

A bloke in a leather jacket stands on a sunny railway platform, looking forward to starting a new job.

I started as British Ambassador to Vienna and UK Permanent Representative to International Organisations in Vienna over a year ago. What does that job consist of, and how has it changed?

I wrote about what a diplomat does in my first Vienna blog: “Salzburg, Vienna, Austria: language, migration and nuclear testing”.

What has happened since then? The short answer is that I have written more than 40 blogs, and sent hundreds of tweets, describing all aspects of my activities in Vienna, the regions of Austria, and some trips further afield.  Someone once said that to follow a diplomat’s social media account is like “having a jump-seat on the Ambassadorial plane”.

So my top message to you if you want to know more about what I’m up to would be to follow my twitter @LeighTurnerFCO; visit regularly my regular blogs in English on the FCO website and in German on the fischundfleisch website; or if you’re an Instagram type, follow my account at instagram.com/LeighTurnerFCO.

I have had a look through the blogs and tweets for the last year.  What they show is the diversity, depth and breadth of British diplomatic activity in Austria.  I see blogs on everything from how to ban nuclear testing to why I wear a poppy for Remembrance Day; modern slavery; combating Zika mosquitoes; promoting the rights of women and girls; Brexit; how football connects the UK and Austria; how the UN governs space; or how Douglas Adams and the wonderful Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are linked to Innsbruck.

My tweets over the past year range even more widely, from meeting members of Deep Purple, Edmund de Waal or the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, through to our two Royal visits this year, the tragic terror attacks in Manchester in London, inward investment into the United Kingdom, exports of food products, what I look like in Lederhosen or at more formal events in my kilt – I am one eighth Scottish – or even my bruising encounter with Viennese wild boar.

Being an Ambassador is a challenge and a privilege.  I’m grateful to the countless Austrians and others who have helped and supported me over the time of my posting so far.  I look forward to the next couple of years – including continued negotiations on Brexit; the Austrian EU Presidency in 2018; and, of course, UK Presidency of the Wassenaar Arrangement in 2018!

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.