Remembering Reykjavik

Author: A. Zaitsev

THE PROPOSAL of an assignment to Iceland made to me over the phone when I was on vacation by the chief of the Foreign Ministry Personnel Department who gave me two days to think about it, for the umpteenth time confirmed the correctness of my idea formed over more than 30 years of diplomatic service of the unpredictability of the chosen career.

I accepted the offer remembering the oriental wisdom about the need to change occupations for at least once in 12 years to boost your professional growth and gain knowledge of new regions, countries and cultures. Changes like this happened to me even more frequently. * Now it was a new appointment, as ambassador to the northernmost and westernmost European capital, Reykjavik, on the biggest volcanic island in the world next door to the Arctic Ocean.

The procedure usual in appointing ambassadors dragged on for several months because I had to get clearance from many authorities, wait for the agrément and the signing of the presidential edict.

I carefully studied the appropriate information I found in the Foreign Ministry departments to prepare for answering questions from the Ministry's top officials and Federal Assembly international affairs committees. Securing clearance from all the authorities I looked up and studied, in the time remaining before my departure, all that was written about

* My first assignment to the embattled Vietnam was followed by jobs at the Permanent Mission to the UN Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva, next I worked for the Second European Department of the Foreign Ministry (Australia and New Zealand division) and for the Foreign Minister's secretariat. Then I once again had to deal with Southeast Asia, this time as the head of a department. This assignment was followed by appointments as ambassador to Congo; on my return to Moscow, I was put in charge of relations with countries in the Transcaucasia and ...

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