UK New Envoy to Bulgaria Takes Office Armed with Rich Local ExperienceDiplomacy | February 2, 2012, Thursday // 17:50| views
Jonathan Allen (R), pictured here on his way to Bulgaria’s presidential headquarters, succeeds Steve Williams as UK Ambassador in Sofia. Photo by BGNES
Jonathan Allen, the new UK Ambassador to Bulgaria, handed in his letters of accreditation on Thursday after living for a month with an average local family.
Ambassador Allen officially assumed office following a ceremony at which newly elected Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev welcomed him.
The British diplomat spent the first month of the year in the second-biggest city of Plovdiv, getting to know the country and its people firsthand, as well as making an impressive progress into his studies of the Bulgarian language, a real challenge for any foreigner.
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 was 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 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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