Published in Huffington Post on 14/07/2015.
In 1993, when I first came to Britain to study International Relations at the University of Leeds, I did not dream that one day I will be back as Ambassador of my country to the Court of St James’s.
I remember that after being appointed to the UK but before arriving to London from Brussels in March 2008, my British friends offered to help with good advices and thousands of pages to read. So, I got the movie The Battle of Britain, with the kind suggestion: “Watch this film and you will understand why we, British, are as we are.” I was also advised what models of shoes to wear (Cambridge and Oxford style) and how to dress in traditional British clubs and events. But above all, I was warned to use jokes in speeches: “If you have to deliver a speech and in the first two minutes you do not say a joke, you are considered boring”.
Well, I watched many times The Battle of Britain and I have travelled from Southampton to Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, from Cardiff to Kent and Lincolnshire, from Brighton to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands, Belfast and Londonderry, trying to understand Britain and Britons. Only to Scotland I have been no less than 20 times.
In my seven and a half years as a Romanian diplomat on the British soil, I have travelled almost all over in Britain. I did it not only because it is within the remit of an ambassador to become acquainted with the country in which he is accredited, to meet the local authorities and the Romanian communities who live there and bring their valuable contribution to the British economic, social and cultural life. I did it because I wanted to understand the spirit, the soul and the traditions of the British people, to understand why words like “to behave like a lord” and “fair play” were not invented somewhere else, and why Magna Carta was not written in 1215 in a different corner of the world.
I had the opportunity to discover Britain’s true values: national pride, high moral standards and an incredible rich history. Because I am married to a History teacher, the love for history is a must in my wonderful family who, so loyally, stood by me in al l good and difficult moments.
Being Ambassador of Romania to London was for me both a privilege and a challenge, because London is a hub of world diplomacy and the meeting point of most important axes of global interests. It is a capital of civilization, culture and European economic liberalism. Today, Britain is one of Romania’s best friends, partners and allies in Europe and I did my best to consolidate this relationship. I am most grateful to our British friends for their invaluable support to this endeavour.
The diplomatic environment in London is highly professional and competitive. I was lucky to make many good friends among diplomats accredited to the UK. For the last three years I was the doyen of the European ambassadors in London. I will always keep a fond memory of the cooperation and friendship of my European colleagues but also of many other ambassadors from around the world. Because the Earth is round, I am sure that there is a chance to meet again somewhere else, sometime in the future.
There is an important Romanian community in Britain. Around 6,000 Romanian students are enrolled in British universities and more than 4,000 Romanian doctors and nurses are working in the British NHS. There are Romanian researchers in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Medicine and IT in almost every important research centre in Britain. Thousands of young Romanians are employed in the City of London or run their own companies in the UK, and there are Romanian workers in every construction site in Britain. Together with my colleagues in the Embassy, we worked tireless and passionately to defend their rights and public image. I want to thank my Embassy team for its professionalism and dedication.
The President and the Government of Romania have now decided to entrust me with a new diplomatic mission. From August 2015 I will take over the job of Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations in New York, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
But Britain will always keep a very special place into my heart.