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Leigh Turner

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

6th December 2017 Vienna, Austria

What does an Ambassador do?

People often ask me what exactly an Ambassador does.  I did a video blog about this earlier this year.

As I noted then, I represent the UK and its interests in Austria, including at some of the international institutions based in Vienna; engage in debate around issues of Austrian and UK interest; build relationships; and report back to the UK government.

So after a busy week of travel, calls, speeches and lobbying ahead of Christmas, I thought a short diary piece, with pictures, might also be a good way to illustrate what this looks like in practice.

Friday 24 November

I attend the first annual meeting of the International Gender Champions, a body promoting gender equality issues in the international organisations in Vienna, Geneva and elsewhere.

Monday 27 November

I meet members of “UK Citizens in Austria” at the Café Ministerium in Vienna to talk about Brexit and citizens’ rights.  Thanks for all the good questions!  See also my Facebook Q&A.

Tuesday 28 November

After a day meeting representatives of UK companies and discussions with the Austrian Foreign Ministry about the Western Balkans, I open the International Literature Festival at the Literaturhaus in Vienna where the guest speaker – Jeanette Winterson – delivers a compelling speech on love – “The world’s first disruptive start-up”.  She is a most impressive individual.

Wednesday 29 November

In a day of calls in Styria I visit AMS AG, one of the world’s leading producers of sensor technology and a big investor in the UK, to discuss their plans.  Later I do a short TV interview, in German, with ORF about Brexit (and the forthcoming Royal Wedding, about which everyone in Austria is thrilled).  I meet local leading politician Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, and visit the British Consulate in Graz with Honorary Consul Eva Brühl. I then participate in the “European Dialogue Discussion”, again to talk about Brexit and its impact with a young audience made up mainly of students.  In the evening I attend the University of Graz “Polit Café” where I speak with an audience of politically-engaged Styrians, again about Brexit, before returning late at night to Vienna.

Thursday 30 November

After a lunch with diplomatic colleagues to discuss the way forward on modern slavery, I open the biennial conference of the Jane Goodall Institute, in Vienna.  Later I talk to a visiting delegation of international affairs students from the UK about what diplomats do.  This prompts me to think about writing this blog.

Saturday 2 December

I am invited as after-dinner speaker to the Christmas dinner of the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Austria.

Sunday 3 December

We are delighted to host both the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the Jane Goodall Institute at an event at the Residence to mark the end of the latter’s Vienna conference.  Impressive participants on every side!

Monday 4 December

On a day which sees an important step forward on Brexit, I accompany a British VIP for calls on key Austrian ministries and trade bodies.  I also attend an event with fellow Permanent Representatives to the Vienna-based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) to discuss how we can build further on the organisation’s existing excellent work.

Looking back at the week or so of these entries, I am struck by the variety of events.  I have not sought to list every meeting, but to focus on those of which I have photos.  I hope it gives a feel for what an ambassador in an EU country – with a cross-accreditation to some of the international institutions here – spends his time doing.  And if you want to find out more about what I get up to in near-real-time, do follow me on Twitter or Instagram.  And while we are on the subject of social media, don’t forget to let me know your favourite #keenonWien tweet.  I have so far tweeted out well over 200 reasons to be #keenonWien!

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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.