Diplomacy in Friendly Europe

Post length: 476 words, just over 2 minutes.

Paul Brummell‘s team published something on his blog last Wednesday which illustrates to me exactly what the British mission in Romania should be striving to do. At the end of a run of blog posts celebrating of 10 years of the embassy’s internship scheme, they posted the answers to three questions posed to alumni of the scheme ahead of the anniversary party. Some of the answers were touching and some made me feel a sense of pride in what the UK’s mission in Romania are doing. I don’t mean to belittle the good diplomatic work that I know the British embassy in Bucharest do (personally, see this), of course, but in the grand scheme of world diplomacy a mission in a stable, friendly European country cannot be the most challenging of postings. For me it raises the question of what a British embassy should be doing in a country like Romania.

“Britishness” and “British values” are often talked about by politicians and the media and of course everyone has a different opinion of what these things actually are or should be. For me one message left by an intern sums up British values perfectly: “To think and dream big, to believe in myself, to write and speak diplomatically. It helped me grow.” What should be Britain’s role in the modern world? To instill the ability to believe in oneself: no matter who you are or where you are from, to believe that you can do what you want to do; no matter how big you think or how big you dare to dream.

Another comment caught my attention too. When asked to write what they had learned during their time at the embassy, one intern alumni wrote “How Bucharest can be magnificent and full of life in an Ambassador’s eyes.” I know from experience that when you live somewhere you can’t always see the positive side of that place. I know from experience that Bucharest is a city of great life and magnificence. But it can sometimes take an outsider’s eye — be that your own eye after you leave or another’s eye while you’re there — to highlight the positive in any place. If an ambassador can, through their outsider’s view, inspire locals to see the same great things that they see in a city or country then in my opinion this can be classed as nothing but a huge success.

Embassies are undoubtedly expensive to run and you could contest the value gained from diplomatic missions to friendly countries, but if such missions can instill a sense of confidence and growth in individuals along side opening the eyes of locals to the life and vibrancy that exists in their own country, isn’t that bringing positive change to the world? And isn’t that, after all, what any major player in international diplomacy should be doing?

Posted on Monday 27th July, 2015 at 10:33 am in Obiter dicta.
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