Ambassador: It was my professional mistake

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"If
I had an opportunity, I would have asked to stay in Belarus as long as possible,"
ERB has interviewed outgoing British Ambassador Nigel Gould-Davies.

ERB: Why are you leaving early after working in the
country for just over two years?

NGD: That was the biggest mistake of my career. The
reason is simple: when I came here two years ago and my colleagues in London suggested that I
take over as ambassador I said "OK." But I do not want to live and
work here for more than two years because I have just come from Moscow where I worked for
four years. I was tired and insisted on working in Belarus for no more than two years.
Now I understand that was the biggest mistake in my career. If I had an
opportunity to persuade my colleagues in London,
I would have asked them to keep me here as long as possible. I've realized how
good the country and its people are.

ERB: Are real changes taking place or just
window-dressing?

NGD: I think the situation in the country has really changed compared to the
situation two years ago. We have noticed progress in relations between Belarus and the
European Union. There is an understanding in Belarus that stronger ties with the
EU are important for the future. The atmosphere and tone of relations are
changing for the better. But there is still a lot of work to be done. We hope
that steps that have been taken are just the beginning. We want to see progress
and hope the process will be irreversible.

ERB: You repeatedly stressed the economic potential
for cooperation between Belarus
and the West. Have trade and economic relations improved between Belarus and the UK during your work here?

NGD: Yes. Belarus
held the first investment forum in London
last November. That was a kind of investment in the future. Despite
difficulties attributable to the global financial crisis, economic and
investment relations have improved between Belarus and the European Union as a
whole. But much will depend on Belarus'
choice.  I always say it is not our
business to order businesspeople to invest money in one country or another. Business
owners should decide themselves. They are willing to work where they can make
profits in normal conditions for business development with transparent rules
applied consistently and where there is no room for red tape.

ERB:
What of the things you have done in the country you remember the most?

NGD:
Before a World Cup qualifier, the embassy and the education ministry organized
a children's football tournament for integrated teams that included kids with
impaired hearing. I officiated the final game. It was a successful event to my
mind. Also last year we organized an art contest on the theme of relations
between our countries. I was surprised at the quality of works. I am taking one
child's work with me to Britain.
It was painted by the youngest winner of our contest. She was five or six. It
is our Queen's portrait. Excellent work!

ERB: What have you failed to do as ambassador?

NGD:
I regret very much that I have not learnt the Belarusian language. I just did
not have time. I regret it very much. I would love to.

Photo — black--cat.blogspot.com