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2014 July August Issue

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BOTH POPE FRANCIS and the Most Revd Justin Welby have shown themselves to be skilled at using their huge moral authority to improve the political climate and persuade leaders in conflict situations to look again at proposals for peace. As the only journalist travelling with the Archbishop on a visit to Pakistan, our writer tackles the issue of church diplomacy. We also consider the significance of the Pope’s recent trip to Israel, firstly highlighting the growing peril faced by Christians in the Middle East and, secondly, the symbolic contribution he made to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Diplomat asks whether Christian religious leaders – rather than politicians – are leading the way in terms of championing humanitarian causes.

The recent European Parliament elections have sent shockwaves through the political establishment. Parties considered to be on the political fringes topped the polls in four member states (Denmark, France, the UK and Greece). As a follow-up to an Ambassadors Breakfast Briefing that Diplomat co- hosted with the London Academy of Diplomacy in June, our speaker, Dr Martyn Bond, offers his views on the implications of the recent European Elections. What do the elections say about the legitimacy of the EU? What do they mean for the structure of political groups in the European Parliament? And what effects may they have on the parties in Westminster? Our regular Note Verbale column notes that political communication in many countries has become too polished and lacking in real emotion, making it seem remote from our everyday lives. In contrast, populist leaders such as Beppe Grillo or Nigel Farage are talented political communicators. They sound authentic, and speak directly about concerns and issues that voters feel are being ignored by the Establishment. The column goes on to say that the recent European elections represent serious warnings. If traditional political parties do not change the way they listen to, talk to and represent the people, they will end up just representing themselves.

For most of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the news coming out of Sri Lanka was almost uniformly bad, as violent activity by militant Tamil separatists was countered with a tough crackdown by government security forces. But since the civil war came to an end in May 2009, the South Asian island nation has experienced a remarkable turnaround and for the past four years its economy has enjoyed one of the fastest growth rates in the world, at an average of 7.5 per cent. Diplomat met with the Chair of the Colombo Stock Exchange and Head of the Securities & Exchange Commission, who highlighted that major investment opportunities are likely to catapult Sri Lanka into the mid- range of middle-income countries.

Although not a diplomat herself, Diplomat has a new contributor: the wife of the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps. Having moved back to the UK after 15 years of overseas postings, Sarah Harrison looks back at migratory life overseas. The key to survival, she says, is to expect the unexpected and maintain a sense of humour.

As always, Diplomat reviews the Credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting with the new Ambassadors of Belgium, the Republic of Guinea and Hungary. For our Portrait page, we photographed the new Mexican Ambassador as he presented his Credentials to Her Majesty The Queen.

In the lifestyle section, Diplomat discovers an authentic slice of quintessentially rural Britain at Water Meadow Cottage on the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire. Diplomat enjoys a delicious dinner at Rivea, Alain Ducasse’s latest offering at the Bulgari Hotel & Residences, and stays at the beautifully restored Rosewood London. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and arts reviews, including details of London Art Week and the new House of Illustration in the King’s Cross regeneration area.

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