Monday, September 07, 2009

Meeting the Armenian Margaret Thatcher

Having only had four hours sleep, today got a bit of getting through. Eyelids were drooping at one stage. This morning was spent in meetings with the British Council here in Yerevan and then meeting the British Ambassador to Armenia, Charles Lonsdale (pic) at the embassy. We then had lunch in a French restaurant where we were serenaded loudly by some very loud French music. Watching my travel companion Aisling from the John Smith Memorial Trust eat her salmon steak to the strains of Je T'Aime was a delight indeed. During the afternoon we made our presentation to thirty or forty possible candidates for a JSMT Fellowship, encouraging them to apply to come to Britain next summer for five weeks. Find out about the fellowship programme HERE. The room we were presenting in felt like a sauna as the air conditioning had failed. But the potential Fellows seemed impressed by what we had to tell them.

This evening we attended a reception at the Ambassador's residence related to the EU Skills initiative. It turned into a highly entertaining evening firstly because the Ambassador took a shine to my tie - clearly a man of taste.

I then had the pleasure of having an uproarious chat with the Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister, a lady called Karine Ghazinyan (pic). She's only been in the job six months, having previously been Armenian Ambassador to Rumania and Germany. Armenian Ministers are not politicians - they are appointees by the Prime Minister. She was the most untypical diplomat I have ever met - a real Margaret Thatcher in the making if ever I saw one. She also had a good line in jokes from the Soviet era...

Both the American and Soviet constitutions guaranteed freedom of speech. The difference was that the American constitution guaranteed freedom after the speech.

Boom boom. And... Damn, I can't remember the other one.

Tomorrow I have three TV interviews to do, and in the morning I am visiting the genocide museum and then going on a trip outside the capital. And back to London on Wednesday morning. I wish we were here longer. There's a lot to see and because of all the meetings we'll barely scratch the surface. I won't make that mistake again.


Anonymous said...

Alan Duncan Moving to shadow Justice Minister (SKY)

Anonymous said...

yeah really interesting....zzzzzzzzzzz

What about that Alan Duncan then? You reap what you sow.

Purple Man said...

Liking an Iain Dale tie is surely a sackable offence for someone in such high public offence?

Anonymous said...

Am very much with you in finding the caucasus interesting, Iain. After having been submerged in the USSR for so many years they are coming out into the light. Of course, they were always there really.
Don't be put off by the cynical remarks posted here, Armenia is a natural friend of this country. We must get to know more about her. Georgia too.

Just a little bit worried by your fraternising with such nests of caledonians as the Smith Trust and the British Council.Yes, the BC! Frankly , i'd put more trust in the Armenians than I would the BC. Needs must I suppose.

Suss 'em out. No need to swallow their b-llsh-t tho.