UK New Envoy to Bulgaria: In Love with Plovdiv before Taking Office in SofiaDiplomacy | January 25, 2012, Wednesday // 13:57| views
Jonathan Allen. Photo by fco.gov.uk
The new UK Ambassador to Bulgaria will be leaving for the capital Sofia this week after spending a month in the second-biggest city of Plovdiv, getting to know the country and its people firsthand.
Jonathan Allen, who will officially assume office on January 30, used the time to study Bulgarian and learn more about local traditions, but by all appearances has been captivated by the ancient Plovdiv.
"Plovdiv is a city I shall always come back to," the ambassador told reporters on Tuesday after meeting mayor Ivan Totev.
Though admitting that learning the Slavic language was a real challenge, Jonathan Allen impressed everybody by speaking namely in Bulgarian.
He thanked the mayor for inviting him to live in the ancient city and expressed readiness to attract more British investors and tourists there.
According to him Plovdiv has the potential to become European Cultural Capital in 2019, because it is not only the oldest, but also the most beautiful city with nice people.
During his stay in Plovdiv, Jonathan Allen was accommodated by the family of a consultancy owner and an English language teacher. The couple has a ten-month son.
The ambassador's only requirement, as far as their flat was concerned, was to have a room of his own – which the hosts gladly offered. The location of the flat remained top secret, but it is said not to be in the luxurious districts of the city.
In this experiment the diplomat has not been joined by his wife Liz, according to media reports.
Jonathan Allen took take up his appointment during the second half of 2011. He succeeded Steve Williams who took up a new appointment outside the Diplomatic Service.
On his appointment as Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria, Allen said:
"I am thrilled to be appointed to be Ambassador to Bulgaria. The UK and Bulgaria need to work together in the EU, in NATO and on a range of country to country issues. I look forward to helping the thousands of Brits who holiday in Bulgaria and the British companies who trade there. My wife, Liz, and I are excited at the prospect of exploring this beautiful country and at making new Bulgarian friends."
Jonathan Allen served previously as Head of the East Africa and Great Lakes Department of the FCO. Prior to that he established and led RICU, a cross-Government Counter-Terrorism communications unit, and was Assistant Director in the Home Office's International Directorate with responsibility for Bulgarian and Romanian entry into the EU.
He began his career on EU issues and has been posted to Cyprus and Brussels, where he was Government Spokesman during the UK Presidency in 2005.
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