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Brit Ambassador Leaves Athens Post, Moves to London

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  • #47712
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        John Kittmer after four years in Greece is being promoted back to the UK as Director of the Department of Overseas Territories in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Prior to his departure he wrote the following in his blog. It is translated from the original Greek, in which John is fluent.

        "Dear friends,

        the last 32 years traveling back home. Every step I made, every conversation I had with you, each of you I knew, everything I learned en route – all these were for me an indescribable joy and a privilege.

        These last four years, I served as Ambassador of Her British Majesty the Greek Republic. This is a grand title and not always feel worthy to fetch him. But I know now that the glory hides many small and simple things. And I remember him with great pleasure as the end of my life.

        It was a great honor for me to serve my Queen and my country in a country that, from my childhood, I love and admire.

        Many of you have called ‘Philhellene "and always blush with pride every time I say it is. In my mind shine forms what actually deserve that classification: Byron, the Hastings, the Kontringkton the Tsorts the Canning, the Gladstone, the Leigh Fermor – to name only a few. Like these, of course, so I am, first of all, a patriot: in my case, British, English and Yorkshireman. And my main task here was to serve the interests of my compatriots. I hope you did.

        But for me, to serve in Greece was to always mean something (even) more than that.

        Your home fascinated me since I was a child, when my father brought us souvenirs from his business trips to Greece. And I began to learn ancient Greek just was not possible. I knew this would open me the way to the language of the New Testament and the knowledge that I find everything sacred language.

        So, quickly fell in love with the language of your ancestors: so complicated, so flexible, so detailed, so beautiful. And behind it there is a wonderful literature. My teachers with inspiration and the best of them brought us, my fellow students and me, here in 1984. We spent about a month for me was revelation. It was spring, he was Easter and Greece awoke. I fell in love again: this time it was your home. The landscape (land and sea), the monuments, the cuisine, beautifully perfect climate, the temperaments (so different from English idiosyncrasies) – all charmed. And I fell in love with the same intensity and you Greeks.

        These first years of my travels here every Greek I met seemed to be the bearer and the incorporation of some mysterious, some occult and yet simple sense in which you Greeks have access to and which we Westerners had forgotten. As I learned to adjust my ancient to modern times, every stutterer conversation I had, it was like pulling the soft seniority thread the centuries in the modern world. The more I learned about your language, your customs, your religion, your history, your literature and your culture, the more I loved you.

        Perhaps exaggerating. I might have already enmeshed in the romance of philhellenism. Maybe I only saw what I wanted to see. But now I live in your home for four years and the truth is that I have not changed my mind.

        You experienced seven very difficult years. I know and I know and its impact – and it saddens me deeply. But I ask not to despair.

        The tenth to ninth century, despite the difficulties, it was glorious for you. In 1821, lit the flame of freedom and proved that, as loud as if the winds hit, once lit, is not extinguished.

        But the twentieth century, although started well, proved largely traumatic. The defeat in Asia Minor, to be null exchange, dictatorships, the Occupation, the Civil War, the Cold War, the junta. Yet you remain undaunted as a people during all these. Each time, going out of your adventures with your head held high and even more determined. My countrymen will never forget what you did for my country, Greece itself and the freedom, during the First and Second World War. Every year of my term in the Commonwealth military cemeteries in Northern Greece, Crete, smaller islands and Faliro, I submitted my silent respects to those who paid the ultimate price for all these fundamental ideals to which you and we believe.

        From the 1980s onwards, began to heal the scars of the Civil War and to find a new support to what was to become the European Union. I remember too the decade of growth since 1995. There was a chimera, although not everything was ideal. He proved to everyone what we already knew them your compatriots often coming to Britain and live among us, working and studying: you have an entrepreneurial spirit and creativity, make great studies and, indeed, working hard. These qualities, when the merge in a successful political and economic program will take you from the difficulties again, and will allow you to proudly stand.

        In the following years, my country would withdraw from the European Union. We have much to negotiate prior to clarify the form of the final agreement. But we are determined to deepen and strengthen our bilateral relations with the states of the European Union. These last four years, I worked hard to cultivate close ties between the Greek and the British people, and between the British and the Greek government. Maybe not sound modest, but I honestly believe that my Embassy and I have succeeded well in this. By the end of this week, I am no longer myself responsible for this task. But for me the rest of career and after, will do everything in my power to a professional and personal level, to reinforce and strengthen our ties. Our alliance and our friendship is more important than anything else for me.

        Saturday will begin a long, slow journey through Europe – returning back to London, where I will take my duties as Director of the Department of Overseas Territories in the Foreign Ministry. My partner, David, and I will take with us the most powerful and joyful memories of our careers and our personal lives in Greece. For all those memories, we owe gratitude to you: our Greek friends. You did these four years, for us at least, priceless. In British diplomatic corps, ambassadors not appointed a second time in a country where they already have served. So finally finished my diplomatic career in Greece. But you do not have no doubt: I will come back. For holidays, for my academic studies, to see our friends here. So, it is not a "goodbye" but "you soon".

        I wish you all peace, happiness and all the best for Christmas, New Year and the future.

        Always your friend,

        John Kittmer
        December 6, 2016

        Above taken from the Greek original at http://blogs.in.gr/blogger/?cid=977

        You can keep up with writings from a sitting British Ambassador in Athens
        by visiting their blog:

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        #48029
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            How remarkable that not a single Brit has responded. At least a wish you well message would I am sure be appreciated. Mr Kittmer livened up in Athens the staid diplomatic arena.

            #48165
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                I’ve never found any of the UK ambassadors of any help since my arrival in the country as a UK citizen – whenever I’ve rung for help or advice I just got passed on to somebody else and eventually the realisation was to sort things out yourself. Don’t wish the bloke any harm but don’t feel any obligation to him either.

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