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A Business, Diplomacy & Foreign Policy Publication

MARCH – APRIL 2019 • $7.95

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CONSUL GENERAL DAVID GILL Consulate General of Germany in New York

H.E. DAWDA FADERA Ambassador of The Gambia to the United States

Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong'o

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga

Travel to Tunisia

British Royals with The Gambia's First Couple

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Diplomatic From the Publisher Dear International Reader: In this issue, Ambassador Fadera speaks at length about his country returning to “a shining example of democracy in Africa.” Nations from all over the world are invited to invest in The Gambia; they have “attractive incentives” to encourage business and enterprise. He expresses deference and appreciation towards the U.S. government for “reinstating us in the Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Program and the AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act).” Read the details in this riveting interview starting on page 14. Maintaining the position of state secretary and chief of staff to the president of any nation is a substantial accomplishment and in this magazine, German Consul General David Gill discusses how he transitioned from that career position to the diplomatic post he currently holds in our nation’s culturally iconic and extraordinarily diversified international population of New York City. He explains their mission includes addressing issues concerning politics and the economy. In regard to their economic contribution, Gill states, "All the major German car companies produce cars in the United States – such as BMW, with its huge plant in South Carolina.” His reference is to the location in Spartanburg. Gill’s dialogue with Diplomatic Connections begins on page 44. Britain’s long goodbye to the European Union has been in the news a great deal and the world is watching. Read about Britain’s extensive history with what was called, early on, the European Economic Community to what is now referred to, of course, as the EU on page 56. Travel to the North African coast to the historical and traditionally rich country of Tunisia with its “narrow streets and blind alleyways of the old city quarters.” Read your way through their palaces, mosques, mausoleums, fountains and monuments with Diplomatic Connections’ own travel journalist. View scenic pictures of the Tunisian coastline; there may be more to do and see as a tourist than you might have previously imagined. Go to page 58 to get a glimpse of some fun photos of this beautiful nation. The Golden Globes are celebrated every year and for those who enjoy glancing at the different styles the stars wear for the festive occasion, the fashion section can be found by opening to page 72. If you would like to have our travel journalist visit your country to have a tourism article featured in a future publication, send an email to: Our next Diplomatic Connections' International Diplomat Appreciation Reception Hotel on February 21st. Looking forward to seeing you there!


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Journey Back toDemocracy Returning to “A Shining Example of Democracy in Africa.”

An Interview with Ambassador Dawda Fadera ROLAND FLAMINI

THE GAMBIA, a thin country in size that takes its name from the river running through it, lies on the Atlantic coast of Africa. In 2017, a seismic crack formed on the country’s historical surface: the 22-year virtual dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh on one side, and a return to democracy under President Adama Barrow on the other. Jammeh had initially refused to accept the result of the 2016 election that ousted him, but when neighboring West African leaders sent in troops to force him into exile, he capitulated. Thus avoiding the bloodletting that so often results from such power shifts in Africa. What was inescapable, however, was the phase of uncertainty that Gambians now face, as the battered and impoverished nation tries to pick up the pieces and restore governance and a functioning economy. 14

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H.E. DAWDA FADERA Ambassador of The Gambia to the United States

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UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 2337 (2017), urging all Gambian parties and stakeholders to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the December 1, 2016 election which recognized Adama Barrow as then President-elect of The Gambia. The Council also endorsed the decisions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to recognize Mr. Barrow as President of The Gambia.

In an interview with Diplomatic Connections, Dawda Docka Fadera, The Gambia’s Ambassador to Washington, described the shambles left behind by the departing regime, and the difficult process of recovery in what had once been a country that Ambassador Fadera calls “a shining example of democracy in Africa.” Independent from the United Kingdom since 1964, the continent’s smallest country and former British protectorate (population 2.2 million) is surrounded on three sides by Senegal with the fourth being its ocean coastline. During the past two years the country has made noteworthy progress specifically in the rule of law and reforming democratic institutions. Moreover, the U.S. State Department, in its annual assessment, acknowledged that The Gambia had made “significant positive changes in the human rights climate.” Re-building the country’s economy to meet high expectations, especially those of young Gambians, has proven a more difficult challenge than other reforms. Revenue in the country depends heavily on groundnut crops and production, which makes up six percent of the GDP and more than a third of Gambian exports. Tourism, another income source, is showing more promise than 16

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ever before. In early 2019, a new bridge over the 700mile Gambia River was inaugurated, river cruises stopped at Baboon Island, home of hippos, crocodiles, and Africa’s oldest center for rehabilitating chimpanzees into the wild. Complementing while simultaneously supporting this growth in tourism, new direct flights from Europe will be in operation. Remittances from the many Gambians who emigrated to find work and escape from the Jammeh regime have long buttressed the economy. However, remittances are expected to decline as a leading source of revenue as Gambians return home under the new regime. Contact with international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, severed under the old regime, has been re-established; but what Gambia seeks is investors to enlarge its economic and employment base. China, already very active in Africa, has stepped in with agreements to invest in infrastructure and education. Ambassador Fadera reports little response from U.S. investors as of yet, even though, overall, bilateral relations have improved since the change. The State Department no longer lists Gambia among the countries refusing to accept the deportation of Gambian illegal immigrants from the

U.S. (around 2,000 at present count), and the ambassador says the new government is cooperating with Washington in the matter of sending them home. Ambassador Fadera was a former head of the Gambian civil service in the new administration until 2018, when he was appointed to his first ambassadorial post. Diplomatic Connections: In 2017, the political situation changed dramatically in your country when The Gambia’s long-time autocratic leader, Yahya Jammeh, spectacularly lost an election to Adama Barrow who became president, restoring democracy and freedom of expression. So now, two years later, how is that restoration progressing? Ambassador Fadera: It has been very difficult. The former president, who ruled for 22 years, had essentially dismantled all of the country’s democratic institutions. For its first 30 years (of independence), The Gambia had been a shining example of democracy in Africa, and a leading light in the respect for human rights and protection of liberties, but all that went out of the window. We had one of the worst dictators in Africa; a lot of Gambians lost their

lives, lost their property, their liberty, and Gambia was more like a big prison -- everyone was serving in it, and the only guard was the former president. During that time, our progress towards development really took a battering. When the new government took over, they inherited a government that was completely bankrupt. The dictator took all the money away that he could lay his hands on. We also inherited a huge debt portfolio amounting to well over 130 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP). Most of this is nationally held  because when it got to the point that the international institutions stopped their loan support, he reverted to borrowing domestically from people within The Gambia. Diplomatic Connections: It is so that the international financial institutions had cut off contact with Gambia? Ambassador Fadera: That’s what happened. Towards the end of the regime, the government was completely isolated. We left the (British) Commonwealth, we left the ICC. We were weak in ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States). The World Bank and the International

UN Photo/Cia Pak

Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, makes remarks during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 24, 2018.

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Monetary Fund wouldn’t have any programs with Gambia. This new government took over facing all these big problems. We have made some progress in terms of governance. The media landscape has changed in The Gambia, press freedom is back – people can write as think fit, within the law – political parties are now up and running, seven parties and one independent candidate form are in the coalition government. In the past two years we held a cycle of elections that were highly subscribed ranging from legislative to local and municipal elections, marked by spirited debates and unprecedented youth and women participation at all levels of the processes. These were monitored both by local and international observers successfully administering a clean bill of health. The rule of law is back. The judiciary is completely independent now; a couple of times in the past two years Gambians have taken the government to court and won. That was unthinkable for 22 years. Diplomatic Connections: With President Barrow committed to a three-year term, wouldn’t you agree that the clock is ticking for the presidential government?


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Ambassador Fadera: The coalition members got together among themselves and agreed to a transitional government to run for three years, after which they can go for elections. But that now seems too short. There’s a national debate at home whether to go for five years or three, and it looks like we are heading for a five-year term. The old constitution had been amended by the dictator to the point of abuse, so the country has already put together a constitutional review committee. Its terms of reference are to come up with a brand new constitution that will respond to our current and future needs. That’s ongoing right now, and we will have a new constitution and a new

John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Foreign ministers pose for a picture during an EU-African Union Meeting at the European Union headquarters in Brussels on January 22, 2019.

republic. It’s a very exciting time for The Gambia and its citizens. Diplomatic Connections: There has been mention of a truth and reconciliation commission. Has that been established? Ambassador Fadera: It’s already formed, and its hearings are televised. It’s imperative that we heal the wounds that were inflicted during the past 22 years. We are hoping that people will come forward, tell the story, and seek forgiveness. But part of the commission’s work is also to help establish some standards for paying reparation – damages – to people who have been unduly affected by the past regime. Of course, that is ongoing and has international support. Diplomatic Connections: According to your biography, you yourself had problems with the previous regime. Were you not fired from your job, but brought back because things worked better with you in charge than without you? Ambassador Fadera: The former dictator had problems with almost everyone in the country. Once you didn’t agree with his ideas, you either had to resign, or be fired. A lot of people were taken out and brought back because he realized that for the public service to function properly, you need people with experience, capacity and integrity. Diplomatic Connections: Yahya Jammeh refused to leave after losing the election, and ECOWAS dispatched troops to force him into exile? Are those troops still in The Gambia? Ambassador Fadera: Yes. They are still helping to maintain peace and security in the country. In December 2016, when the election results were announced and the electoral commission declared the leader of the opposition, Adama

Barrow, as the winner, President Jammeh actually accepted the outcome, but a few days later he changed his mind. He rejected the results in their entirety and called for fresh elections. So the Gambian people came together to say ‘no.’ There was a lot of internal struggle against him, and then ECOWAS put a military force together and they were at the border when (Jammeh) saw this was a serious business, and he agreed to go. The United Nations also passed a resolution supporting the people of Gambia. Diplomatic Connections: How did ECOWAS get involved? Ambassador Fadera: ECOWAS is one of the best regional blocs in Africa and really stands for democracy. In the past, West Africa had suffered greatly from endless military coups, which greatly affected the development trajectory of the region. The West African nations came together to say no to military coups, no to unconstitutional changes of government, and no to leaders who would disregard the people’s will at the polls.  ECOWAS has also intervened in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire. Diplomatic Connections: Is there a time frame for how long the ECOWAS will remain in The Gambia? Ambassador Fadera: This is left to the governments to work out, and there are funding implications as well. They will study the situation, and I think they’re going to extend their presence for one more year. Hopefully, very soon, we might not need them. This will depend on the security situation at home and consultations between the Government of The Gambia, Governments of the ECOWAS Region and partners. Diplomatic Connections: What would you like to see the United States do to help this restoration effort?

John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

President of The Gambia Adama Barrow holds a joint press conference with EU Commissioner of Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship Tibor Navracsicsa following their meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels.

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Ambassador Fadera: I’ve met many U.S. government officials and my message has always been for them to come forward and give Gambia stronger support in our reform. We see what’s happening in Gambia today as a model for Africa. We were almost on the edge of a bloody civil war that would have destabilized the entire sub-region, but the way the Gambian people organized themselves and handled it – they put their faith in democracy. So I tell officials that this is a time to work together and give Gambians the dividends of democracy. We’re not necessarily asking for handouts, but at least one way that the U.S. can help is to improve investment in the country. The youth population is huge, unemployment is very high, and the government alone can’t create employment for everybody. So that’s why we call upon the United States and other countries that mean well to come forward and invest in our nation. As a government we’re doing what we can to attract investment. People can come forward and have faith in the judicial process and invest in our nation. We also have attractive incentives for people who want to invest in The Gambia; it’s a small country but strategically located. From the Gambia you can 20

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target the population of ECOWAS, which is 15,335 million people constituting one third of the total population of subSaharan Africa. All the resources are there, and we’re five hours from Europe. Diplomatic Connections: In other respects, how would you characterize bilateral relations with the United States? Ambassador Fadera: They’re very strong right now. We are very grateful to the current U.S. government in that immediately after the change (Washington) made two important restitutions. One was to reinstate us in the Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Program, which is extraordinary and of great significance. The other was to put us back in AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act).

Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

ECOWAS Economic and Business Forum Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci (6th R); Minister of Economy, Finance and Development of Burkina Faso, Rosine Sori-Coulibaly (5th R); ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector, Kalilou Traore (5th L); Minister of Industry and Trade of Benin Mahouwedo Serge Ahissou (3rd R); Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment of Gambia, Isatou Touray (6th L); Head of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK), Nail Olpak (2nd R); Chairman at Turkish Exporters Assembly, Mehmet Buyukeksi; and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Turkish Educational Foundation (TEV), Rona Yircali (4th L) pose for a photo during the opening ceremony of the ECOWAS Economic and Business Forum in Istanbul, Turkey, 2018.

This is a powerful show of confidence in the new government, and we are very happy about that valued reassurance. Since then, we have been in consultation with various state and non-state actors here in the U.S. and the outcome is very positive. Diplomatic Connections: One of President Barrow’s first trips abroad was to China where he signed a number of bilateral agreements. How strong is China’s involvement with The Gambia? Ambassador Fadera: We have very strong bilateral relations with China, and that’s working out well. The Gambian people really yearn for the dividends of democracy. But, for the past 22 years we’ve had a huge infrastructural gap in the country, and huge unemployment. With the change, people thought that it would bring them at least job opportunities, bring them growth, some infrastructural development, bridges, and a private sector employing more people. The expectations are very high. With China, it has been much easier in terms of negotiations and getting things started. China has already offered to build a conference center that cost about $16.5 million. That’s happening as we speak. The Gambia is poised to host the OIC Summit in 2019, and the Chinese are generously providing the conference center as a grant for the country. China has very strong ties with the continent. The huge African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa was built by the Chinese government as a donation to the African Union.

Many, many highways and railways across Africa are built by the Chinese. Diplomatic Connections: What has been the most significant economic development since the change? Ambassador Fadera: When the new government took over our reserve in the Central Bank for import cover was less than two weeks; currently, that has been increased to more than three months. That brings confidence in the economy, and our currency is now stronger and competes against major currencies. The prices of basic commodities have not skyrocketed as people thought they would when the exchange rate control mechanism was liberalized. Fuel prices, once controlled by the dictator, now follow global fluctuations. Quite a number of roads are being marked out for expansion in the Banjul area as part of the OIC conference scheme. But the major achievement in the past two years is in the governance area. The economy has not improved as fast as Gambian people would like it to; what we need in terms of investment has not been met. Investments are trickling in, and hopefully this will change. Tourism is doing very well. For the past two years, the number of people wanting to vacation in The Gambia far exceeds the number of available hotels. Gambia has a diverse ecotourism, and is a paradise for bird watchers as we have several different species of birds. As part of diversifying tourism, new markets are being discovered.

Lintao Zhang/AFP/Getty Images

Gambia's President Adama Barrow shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping before a meeting at The Great Hall of People in Beijing on September 6, 2018.

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Tourists visit the Kachikally crocodile pool in Bakau, The Gambia.


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Diplomatic Connections: The economy is based on agriculture – particularly groundnuts – tourism, and also remittances from the large number of Gambian emigrants. But as things improve, presumably many will want to return. How does one cope with an influx of returnees? Ambassador Fadera: The contributions of the diaspora are important to our economy, but the government has now put together a strategy study to get the diaspora to get to come home and invest in the country. Diplomatic Connections: Isn’t The Gambia getting help from the European Union which has contributed  $278 million for Gambian repatriations? Ambassador Fadera: Yes. Many members of the diaspora have been exposed to more education, and they have

experience and skills. We want them to come home and start investing in the country. Some have already responded to that call, and have returned home to start various activities. Certainly, the country will miss the remittances, but they are engaging in something else that would help create wealth in the country. It’s a delicate balancing act, but the government is working on it. We’ve put together a strategy to engage our diaspora to make their contribution more effective. Diplomatic Connections: How many Gambians are there in the United States? Ambassador Fadera: We have a huge number of Gambians in the United States. We don’t have the updated figures, but it is estimated that well over 22,000 Gambians live in the

Kachikally continue to page 27

A tourist touches a crocodile at the Kachikally crocodile pool in Bakau, The Gambia. D I P L O M AT I C C O N N E C T I O N S B U S I N E S S E D I T I O N | M A R C H - A P R I L



Tourist boat excursion on the The Gambia River.

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images


Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Gambia: Tourists on a Safari


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Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Tourism Palma Beach in Banjul

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People walk and horseback ride on the beach in the province of Banjul, Senegambia, The Gambia.

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, speaking with a model wearing designs from Lagos Fashion Week at a reception marking their tour to The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria at St. James Palace on October 24, 2018 in London, England.


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In October, Prince Charles hosted a reception at St. James Palace in London previous to visiting Gambia to mark his three nation tour in Africa: The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria. Here he is seen speaking with musician Lethal Bizzle.

U.S. In the past the diaspora had very poor relations with the dictator; he saw them as enemies of the people, so the embassy here wasn’t able to establish a data-base because immigrants tried to avoid the government. Although I can tell you the Gambian community is huge. They live in Maryland, Seattle, New York, Atlanta, Minnesota, North

Group of Ambassadors to develop rules of procedures and a guidebook for incoming diplomats to facilitate interactions within the complexities and the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. This has been adopted and I will be the Chair of the Committee leading this process. It will have the key institutions, the addresses and phone

Carolina and elsewhere. 

numbers, key events that people can attend and engage with other diplomats. The Gambia will take the lead with the AU to publish it. ■

Diplomatic Connections: Just one final question: What would be your advice to an incoming African fellow ambassador, who has just arrived, about operating in Washington?

Photos continue to page 32

Ambassador Fadera: Washington is an important mission for any country. I came in and I really didn’t know where to start. But then with the help of my staff here on the ground, we came up with a strategy of engagement without key partners and allies. I’ve gone out aggressively to meet them, introduce myself and my platform to seek their support. The African Union ambassadors meet regularly which is also very helpful for new diplomats. In fact, Gambia has introduced a proposal for the African

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Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, pose with Gambia's President Adama Barrow and his wife Fatou Bah-Barrow, at the Stade House in Banjul as part of an official visit to The Gambia, on November 1, 2018.

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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales shakes hands with Gambian delegates during a welcome ceremony at the airport in Banjul, upon his arrival for an official visit, on October 31, 2018.


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Prince Charles speaks with children as he arrives to visit a Malaria research center in Banjul as part of an official visit to The Gambia on November 1, 2018.


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Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, beside Fatou Bah-Barrow (2ndL), wife of Gambia's President Adama Barrow, visits the St. Theresa's School in Banjul, on November 1, 2018 during an official visit to The Gambia.


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A Conversation with

German Consul General

David Gill

in New York

David Gill has had a remarkable journey to becoming Germany's Consul General in New York; most notably, he held the venerated position of State Secretary and Chief of Staff for former German president Joachim Gauck during the course of his term. The Consul General's foreign policy acumen and international relations skills attained from his previous job equipped him with an extraordinary level of dexterity and aptitude in interacting with high-level government officials and delegates. Gill is very well-accoutered and accomplished in ways that are essential to successfully meeting the demands of this honorable profession with all its intricacies in one of the most bustling cities in the world.


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DAVID GILL Consul General Consulate General of Germany in New York

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Diplomatic Connections: How and when did your career in diplomacy begin?

Diplomatic Connections: What is the anticipated length of stay for your particular posting here in New York?

Consul General Gill: Technically my diplomatic career started only in 2017. Finding my way to diplomacy was as follows: I grew up in a rectory in Herrnhut in the eastern part of Saxony, in the former German Democratic Republic. For political reasons I was not allowed to attend a public high school nor university. After an apprenticeship to become a plumber, I first attended a high school run by the church that was not acknowledged by the communist regime. In 1988, I became a student of theology. In 1990, I initially was Chairman of Normannenstrasse Citizens’ Committee at the headquarters of the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) and then Head of Administration of the Parliamentary Special Committee for the dissolution of the Stasi. After the German reunification, I served as Spokesperson and Head of the Research Division of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi-Files before studying law, in Philadelphia, amongst other cities. After holding positions with the Federal Ministry of the Interior and with the Office of Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information in Berlin, I was the Deputy Representative of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) to the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union for eight years, it was there that I took my first diplomatic steps. During the term of Joachim Gauck as Federal President of Germany from 2012-2017, I served as State Secretary and his Chief of Staff, an occupation which was highly diplomatic, with many state visits to prepare and conduct as well as many diplomatic colleagues who

Consul General Gill: Usually, the term in a post as Consul General is four years. So I am looking forward to a few more years of working on German-American relations and friendship.

served at my office. Diplomatic Connections: How did you come to be a diplomat in New York? Consul General Gill: In my former capacity as head of the Federal President's Office, foreign policy became increasingly important to me and I enjoyed building, nurturing and strengthening relations between Germany and other countries. That was one of the main motivations that led me to join the Foreign Office. Initially, I was not even focused on serving in the United States, but over the past 20 years, I have not only maintained professional relationships with America, but also private ones - my wife is American. So, I am very pleased that the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent me here, where I have been leading the German Consulate General in New York since August 2017.

Diplomatic Connections: How do you define the mission of a consulate in general and for your nation specifically? Consul General Gill: In general, a consulate should support building and maintaining a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship between the delegating and the hosting nation by strengthening ties and reducing boundaries. There are three major fields of responsibilities: First, the consular duties of issuing passports, visa, etc. Second, it is our responsibility to explain Germany in our host country – such as the political system in Germany or the beauty of our country – in general, to make Germany known in the United States. Third, we try to understand our host country in order to explain to our politicians and the people in Germany how this country works and what its issues in politics, economy, culture, etc. are on a day-to-day basis. In summary, the German Consulate General is in charge of explaining Germany, understanding America and fostering successful discussions and exchange – that is our mission in our area of jurisdiction. Diplomatic Connections: What is its role in New York versus another city in the United States? Consul General Gill: The United States is the country with the most German Consulates General worldwide due to the fact that we are very important allies and partners. Many Germans live here in the United States. In addition to the Embassy in Washington, we have eight Consulates General. The Consulate General in New York has a special role – first of all, New York is an important economic, cultural and political hub with many visitors from Germany. Many German companies invest here and there is a wide-ranging exchange of cultural programs. Additionally, all the major Jewish organizations have their headquarters in New York – one of our main tasks is to network and to partner with them. Diplomatic Connections: How is the consulate organized specifically in New York? Consul General Gill: The organization of the German Consulate General is similar to most foreign missions. It continue to page 50


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The BMW Zentrum Museum welcomes visitors to BMW Manufacturing in Greer, South Carolina. The plant produces the BMW X3, X5 and X7 Sports Activity Vehicles and the BMW X4 and X6 Sports Activity Coupes.

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A new BMW X4 moves down the assembly line at BMW Manufacturing at the Spartanburg plant in Greer, South Carolina.


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Banners hang inside the entrance to the X3/X4 assembly hall at BMW Manufacturing at the Spartanburg plant in Greer, South Carolina.

is divided into five sections: The Consular Department staff offer consular and legal assistance for U.S. residents and German citizens. The Political Department gives the German government a comprehensive view of political developments and additionally cooperates with the Jewish institutions based in New York. In our Economics Section, we support German-American business relations by connecting our partners, in both Germany and the United States, with chambers of commerce, conventions and trade fairs, as well as German companies located here in the United States. Our Cultural Department provides links to German cultural organizations, connects with German language education programs and organizes a variety of concerts and exhibitions to support German artists here in the United States. Finally, our Press Section supports all of our departments with their public diplomacy work online – both on our website and social media platforms – as well as through their connections to German journalists located here in the United States. Diplomatic Connections: What region does the consulate represent for the northeast corridor? 50

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Consul General Gill: The Consulate General in New York represents the German Federal Republic in New Jersey, New York Pennsylvania, Fairfield County Connecticut, and Bermuda. Diplomatic Connections: How is the economic collaboration with the United States? Consul General Gill: Germany enjoys close economic relations with the United States – it is one of the essential pillars of our bilateral relations. The United States of America is Germany’s biggest economic partner outside of Europe. Vice versa, Germany is the most important economic partner in Europe for the United States. Worldwide – in terms of the total volume of U.S. bilateral trade including imports and exports – Germany remains in fifth place, behind China, Canada, Mexico and Japan. Our bilateral trade amounted to 172 billion dollars in 2017. In addition, many German companies are very active in investing in the United States: You can find many of their American headquarters in our district – especially in New Jersey. Almost 700,000 jobs are created by German

the implementation of dual education – e.g. by offering apprenticeships. Ties between the United States and Germany span years, decades and even centuries. This partnership will be of utmost importance in the future, too – for freedom, security and economic success in both countries. Diplomatic Connections: What is the role of the consulate when you have elections in your country? Consul General Gill: Germans who live permanently abroad and no longer have a residence in Germany may still participate in Federal elections and European elections. In Germany, unlike in other countries, voting at the consulate or online is not possible. As a German citizen who lives abroad, you have to vote by mail. Hence, our most important role during elections is to inform Germans companies in the United States. All the major German car companies produce cars in the United States - such as BMW, with its huge plant in South Carolina, which is the biggest American car exporter by value. We have a very active German American Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, many German companies reinforce

residing in the United States how to exercise their right to vote. In addition, we answer questions from interested U.S. politicians, journalists and citizens in regards to the elections. Diplomatic Connections: What services does the consulate offer to your country’s nationals residing in your district as well as visiting tourists?

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A BMW associate installs an interior part on a BMW X4 on the assembly line at BMW Manufacturing at the Spartanburg plant in Greer, South Carolina.

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A bow sits on the hood of a new MINI inside the showroom of a car dealership in Louisville, Kentucky.

Consul General Gill: Our most important, and by volume most common, duty is issuing passports to Germans who live in our area of jurisdiction. Every year about 5,000 German passports are issued in our district – meaning 5,000 Germans, who live in our district, need a new passport. Since passports must be renewed every ten years, there are approximately 50,000 Germans who live in our district – plus or minus those who might have lost their passports. In addition, there are other services that we can offer to the Germans living in our district such as certifications, notarizations, birth registration, and certain legal support. Diplomatic Connections: How does the consulate participate in the cultural and touristic promotion of your nation in the United States? Consul General Gill: There are many German artists in New York who live here either permanently or temporarily. The consulate hosts events such as concerts and exhibitions in order to promote them. Furthermore, the consulate offers


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links to German cultural organizations and information portals. Though, in general, we do not only support the promotion of German culture in the United States, but also vice versa American culture in Germany. This year in particular, we are trying to invigorate these efforts with a special public diplomacy program in the United States and Germany – the so called “Deutschlandjahr”. This campaign was launched on the German National holiday – October 3, 2018 – in Washington. Over the next twelve months more than one thousand events will be hosted all over the country to promote German matters here in the United States. More than 200 German and American partner organizations are part of this unique initiative and bring the campaign’s motto to life: “Wunderbar together.” This initiative is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, implemented by the Goethe-Institut and supported by the Federation of German Industries. Have a look at the website:

Diplomatic Connections: How can the consulate help those who are not your citizens planning to travel to your country?

Diplomatic Connections: Are there any upcoming cultural events organized by the consulate? Are they open to the public?

Consul General Gill: In general, visas are not required for U.S. citizens to travel to Germany. On the other hand, some non-U.S. citizens residing in the United States need to apply for a visa when traveling to Germany. The consulate is pleased to offer assistance through the visa application process. In addition, if you want to know where to visit and what to discover in Germany, feel free to get in touch with the German National Tourist Board office in New York or online via

Consul General Gill: Yes, the German Consulate hosts many events each year that are free and open to the public – these include lectures, readings, movie screenings, concerts and exhibitions. Everyone is invited to join. The best and easiest way to find out about our upcoming events is to sign up for our NYConsulate Events newsletter. Check out:

Diplomatic Connections: What would the difference be if you were to make suggestions for a tourist versus someone going there on business?

Consul General Gill: There is a quite common picture of Germany here in the United States, but there is far more to discover than just beer, bratwurst and pretzels. It is much more diverse, so come and find out – the German Consulate General is pleased to help. ■

Consul General Gill: There would be no significant distinction. Germany is worth discovering and traveling through. It offers a long and interesting history as well as a beautiful countryside with a diverse landscape from seaside, to vast expanses of forests, to mountains, to old cities and their historic town centers. Even on a business trip there should be enough time to visit a museum or a Biergarten to enjoy a beer after work.

Diplomatic Connections: If you had a message for our readers specifically concerning your country, what would it be and why?

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Historical photo, April 6, 1975: Then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, sporting a sweater bearing the flags of European nations, in Parliament Square during her 'Yes to Europe' campaign.

In the summer of 1963, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan visited Rome. Days earlier, Charles de Gaulle, president of France, had blocked Britain’s application for membership of what was then the European Economic Community, the largest experiment of voluntary economic integration in human history. With his country being kept out of Europe, the British Conservative leader joked to a group of reporters that he had decided to come and visit the historic sites of Ancient Rome “for the last time.” In reality, he was there for talks with Italy’s government, but de Gaulle’s rejection had been a blow to Britain’s prestige. Britain had previously turned down an invitation to join the six original European countries (France, what was then West Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands) in signing the 1957 Treaty of Rome that created the EEC, forerunner of the European Union. At the time, the British had felt they could do better by sticking with the British Commonwealth. In the early Sixties, however, Macmillan changed his tune. Concerned at the rapid postwar economic advances of Germany and France, in contrast to Britain’s much slower recovery, he announced that the government was applying for European membership. Macmillan’s statement in the House of Commons brought cries of disapproval, with shouts of “Shame” coming from both sides of the aisle. Opposition to closer ties with Europe had found its voice for the first time, and certainly not the last. Somewhat to the surprise of the British, President de Gaulle vetoed the application, casting doubt on Britain’s commitment to Europe, and warning that Britain would be a Trojan Horse for United States interests –a major obstacle 56

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given the French leader’s anti-American mindset. That one veto was enough to thwart British hopes. However, Sir Crispin Tickell, a senior British diplomat who was involved in later negotiations to join Europe, has recently put forward the idea that what was understood as a veto might have been a breakdown in communications. In his crucial meeting with de Gaulle, Macmillan insisted on speaking French, even though he was certainly not fluent in the language. As a result, he understood “no” when the French president, “in fact had said something rather more subtle. But for that, we might have joined ten years earlier,” said Tickell. True or not, four years later, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson made a second attempt to apply for membership, and this time there was no question of misunderstanding the bluntness of de Gaulle’s rejection. In a speech, de Gaulle called Britain “insular and maritime,” and the British deeply hostile to the idea of constructing a unified Europe. Only after a radical change of their attitude should they be allowed to join the European Economic Community, he went on. Then in 1973, a new French president, Georges Pompidou, and a new British prime minister, Edward Heath, finally opened the way for Britain’s entry. Opinion polls showed the British overwhelmingly against EEC membership, but Heath, a strong Europeanist, was determined to make entry into Europe his political legacy. He had earlier promised not to commit the country to membership “without the full hearted consent of parliament and the people,” but no such consent was sought.

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A Historical Perspective

There were celebrations when Britain joined Europe, but there was also resentment at what critics in six days of parliamentary debate called a loss of sovereignty. The term Euroskepticism came later, but many of the key objections now heard in the anti-European revolt that led to Brexit were already being voiced at the time. Harold Wilson, once again prime minister in 1975 and unhappy with the conditions of British membership, held the first referendum on whether or not to remain in the EEC. The ruling Labour Party, dominated by its left wing, was seeking a result calling for withdrawal. Instead, the British public voted in favor of remaining by a significant 67 percent to 31 percent. Given the inconsistencies of the past, who can say with any certainty that Brexit is the last word on Britain’s relationship with the European Union? Almost from the moment of joining Europe, Britain has managed to give the impression that it has one foot out the door; so can this really be the end? Comparing the referendum of 1975 with the Brexit vote of 2016 reveals the fatal flaw in Britain’s relations with Europe. In 1975, it was the Conservative Party that strongly supported membership. The new Tory leader, Margaret Thatcher, called for a “massive Yes” vote to Europe, and toured the country wearing a woolen sweater featuring the flags of the member states. Even so, as prime minister, the same Margaret Thatcher bickered constantly with Brussels, and forced a reduction in Britain’s annual contribution to the European common budget. But her official biographer, Charles Moore, told Reuters, “The whole time she was in office she supported our membership though with increasing lack of enthusiasm.” The decisions of the European Court of Justice, which are legally binding in all member states and take precedence over the national courts, increasingly stoked British opposition to the EU – although, ironically, the United Kingdom had the best record in Europe for prompt adoption of the tribunal’s decisions. The introduction of the euro was another divisive issue, with the Labour government insisting on staying out of the single European currency (along with Denmark). After which the European Union –as it was now called –made joining the euro zone mandatory for all other member states. During the 2015 general election, in the face of growing criticism of the European Union in his own party, Tory leader, David Cameron, made renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership a key pledge and promised

committed himself to a “remain or leave” referendum on the “new settlement” he intended to negotiate with Brussels. The Conservatives won an outright and largely unexpected electoral victory; Cameron completed the EU agreement - and the Leave campaign won the June 2016 referendum by about 52 percent. Theresa May, who actually favored remaining in Europe, took office three weeks later, committed to make the United Kingdom the first country to leave the EU. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a pro-European, summed up the experience thus: “The tragedy for British politics –for Britain – has been that politicians of both parties have consistently failed, not just in the 1950s but on up to the present day, to appreciate the emerging reality of European integration. And in doing so they have failed Britain’s interests.” In January, the British parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the phased exit from the EU that Prime Minister May had negotiated with Brussels. As the clock ticked inexorably towards the March 29 deadline, May survived, but seemed without further options – except the non-option of a “hard” Brexit to end Britain’s EU membership without a deal - amid predictions of damaging economic consequences for the United Kingdom. Among the most difficult issues – and potentially one of the most dangerous - May faced was the status of Northern Ireland once Britain left the European Union. A tentative agreement between London and Brussels, known as “the backstop,” would continue to allow free access between Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) and the Republic of Ireland, which remains an EU member. An open border between the two Irelands is guaranteed by the so-called Good Friday agreement of 1998 ending decades of sectarian strife on the Emerald Isle. Restoration of a hard border could result in a renewal of old tensions. The backstop, however, is a sticking point for Brexit hardliners because free access at the Irish border will constitute an open back door for people and goods into the United Kingdom from the European Union. In desperation, some British politicians pushed the eleventh hour idea of yet another referendum -with no solid indications that the result would be any different. It seemed more likely that Britain’s emotive, internally divisive, complicated relationship with the European Union has gone full circle – and Charles de Gaulle had the last word. ■

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By Monica Frim Photography by John and Monica Frim


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C o m e w i t h m e t o z eK a s b a h . The iconic meme evokes images of Pépé le Moko, the thieving character played by Charles Boyer in the 1938 movie, Algiers, dashing Hollywood-style through the narrow streets and blind alleyways of the medina (old city quarters), except that we were in Tunis, not Algiers, and the famous kasbah line attributed to Boyer never did make it into the movie. Instead, a lovesick cartoon skunk named Pepé le Pew, usurped the expression and gave it immorality. Pepé and his French-accented pick-up line are still making the rounds almost 80 years later. In my mind’s eye, the adorable cartoon skunk of my childhood perfectly sized up the historic heart of Tunis. In the strict sense of the word, a kasbah is a fortress or citadel, although in some North African countries kasbah can refer to the entire medina or any structure behind a defensive wall. In the capital city of Tunis, the Kasbah is a central district of spaciousness and relative quiet where modern government buildings and a large public square now occupy the historical sites that once bore the imprints of Turkish, Spanish, French and other conquests. It’s known a few protests, including the Arab Spring uprising of recent history, but remains, for the most part, an oasis of calm next to the hustle and bustle of the adjoining medina, one of North Africa’s best preserved. Hundreds of palaces, mosques, mausoleums, fountains and monuments from various dynasties and cultures surround the Kasbah. But the real pulse of the medina is found in a tangle of cobbled alleyways where bazaars and souks (shops) buzz with the sounds of artisans

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Blue doors, decorated with nails, are hallmarks of traditional Tunisian design.

hammering designs onto bronze and copper wares, or carvers scraping wood into beautiful sculptures. Weavers pull colorful yarns through hand looms, and hat vendors put finishing touches on carmine-colored brimless caps known as chechias, Tunisia’s national trademark. Windows shimmer with gold and silver jewelry and semi-precious stones. In other shops, a collage of hookah pipes, carpets, ceramics, musical instruments, textured leather bags, colorful fabrics and kaftans hang like oversized fruit, of which there too is an amazing selection. The scent of roast lamb, incense, or jasmine and orange blossoms hangs over the streets and shops like sea spray, rife and redolent. One could feel woozy from the mix of 60

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A metal craftsman hammers finishing touches onto a plate in a Tunisian souk.

colors, tastes and smells. Although the medina is arguably Tunis’ most vibrant attraction, the busy commercial areas surprisingly co-exist alongside quiet residential areas. Side streets awash in white buildings with archways and studded blue doors provide pockets of calm within the surrounding frenzy. Ten percent of the population of Tunis lives inside the medina in historic homes, some of which date from the 7th century. Many have been renovated in traditional styles with glazed ceramic tiles articulating doorways. Former palaces and stately mansions have been turned into museums or lavish restaurants tucked away in unassuming neighborhoods. About the size of Florida, Tunisia is a blend of European

and Arab traditions. Its capital city is a true international crossroads with a traditional medina surrounded by a modern metropolis. Walk from the medina through the crenelated arch of Bab el Bahr (Sea Gate), which separates the Old Quarter from the Ville Nouvelle built by the French during the colonial era, and you’ll find yourself on a wide boulevard lined with trees, balconied buildings and decorative facades. Here outdoor cafés, swanky restaurants and upscale stores stand alongside international hotels, theaters and the iconic Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul. You could trick yourself into thinking you had landed in Paris’ Champs-Élysées. Head away from the city and you’re in either a Floridian world of beach resorts and golf courses or on a journey through time to bygone civilizations. Tunisia features some of the best-preserved ruins from antiquity in the world, surpassing even the Roman-Greco ruins of Rome, thanks to a more agreeable climate and less tourist traffic. Most outstanding are the Roman mosaics,

with the best specimens featured in Tunisia’s national archaeological museum, the Bardo. The Bardo Museum’s collection is reputedly the largest display of Roman mosaics in the world. Many of the Bardo’s artifacts come from the suburb of Carthage, founded circa 814 by the Phoenician Queen Dido, also known as Queen Elissa, after she fled from her brother, King Pygmalion of Tyre in today’s Lebanon. According to legend Dido landed at the foot of Byrsa Hill, now part of the archaeological site of Carthage, where she negotiated with the local Berber chieftain for as much land as a single ox hide could encompass. It proved a clever ploy. By cutting the hide into a continuous thin strip, Dido was able to

The cliff-top town of Sidi Bou Said is known for its blue and white color scheme.

One of many modern hilltop villas near Sidi Bou Said.

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A tea house in Sidi Bou Said

encircle nearby Byrsa Hill with the hide and establish a Punic (Phoenician) settlement that was to become one the most powerful civilizations in the Mediterranean. Carthage was eventually destroyed after a series of wars over maritime power between the Phoenicians and the Romans. Known as the Punic Wars, the battles stretched over 118 years until 146 BC when the Romans finally defeated the legendary Carthaginian general, Hannibal, and burned Carthage to the ground. One hundred years later, Julius Caesar ordered a new city to be built upon the ruins. It soon became the third most important city of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. Pity the glory didn’t last. From the fifth to seventh centuries Carthage passed through eras of Vandal, Byzantine and Arab control and eventually became eclipsed by the neighboring city and port of Tunis. Not much remains of the original Punic city of Carthage. Its Archaeological Site features largely Roman ruins and artifacts, save for a few fragments of Punic pillars and funereal relics, which are displayed in the Carthage and Bardo National Museums. While Carthage is Tunisia’s most popular site owing 62

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to its legendary history and proximity to Tunis, thousands of better preserved ruins, including 50 Roman amphitheaters, lie scattered throughout the country. Many lie in out of the way places that are difficult to reach, which may account for their excellent condition. The third century amphitheater at El Jem is arguably the most magnificent in the country. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage list along with Carthage and the sites at Dougga, Kairouan and Kerkouane. (The Medinas of Sousse and Tunis, and Ichkeul Lake are also on the list.) About 40 miles south of Carthage, the lesser known, but more extensive and wellpreserved archaeological site of Thuburbu Majus is a haven

of tranquility. Although Thuburbu Majus became part of the Roman Republic, its Punic past survives in several archaeological remains that predate by several centuries the destruction of Carthage. It seems the Romans did not raze the existing buildings but simply added their own, which also explains why there are no straight Roman-style streets in Thuburbu Majus. The site is also delightfully void of crowds. While Tunisia, is an archaeophile’s delight, beach tourism has, in general, surpassed heritage tourism. In the Tunis suburbs from Goulette to Gammarth, cliffside villas and resorts stretch along a Mediterranean seashore dotted with beach bars, sandy coves, fishing piers and archaeological ruins. Hibiscus, honeysuckle and jasmine bushes spill capriciously over verdant hillsides, their candy-

Sidi Bou Said is one of the most beautiful villages to grace the seaside cliffs, with views that stretch all the way to the mountains of the Cap Bon Peninsula, the finger of land that separates the Gulf of Tunis from the Gulf of Hammamet. Within the village, narrow cobblestone streets wriggle over hills of white-washed houses with blue doors that bubble out of the hillsides like giant scoops of vanilla ice cream. The scene is reminiscent of the blue and white villages on the Greek Island of Santorini but with decidedly Tunisian mashrabiya latticework and wrought iron filigree. Art galleries, palaces and guesthouses are tucked neatly behind the studded doors and facades, and souks pulse with the repartee of sellers and buyers in pursuit of a good transaction. Reputedly some of the most sought-after souvenirs are scroll-wire bird cages, a national symbol of

colored flowers fluttering like the feathers of tropical birds in the salty breeze. Many visiting artists found their muse in these glorious views, and decided to stay. They turned lowly fishing huts into jaunty homes, studios and galleries, but with sensitivity to Tunisian aesthetics and traditions.

traditional Tunisian artistry. Sidi Bou Said became a go-to place for bohemian travelers in the early 20th century after Europe’s finest artists and literary celebrities stumbled upon its continue to page 66

Open air restaurants and cafes are scattered throughout Tunisian towns.

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Restaurant Le Mediterranee in the resort town of Port El Kantaoui, offers fine food and superb views of the marina.

The arched entrance to the harbor at Port El Kantaoui.

Mediterranean charms. The village is more commercialized now but still one of Tunisia’s most idyllic haunts. A favored activity among locals and visitors alike is sipping a mint tea sprinkled with pine nuts or a Turkish coffee dashed with

that really draws a mostly European crowd. Here, amidst a shoreline fringe of modern hotels, casinos, nightclubs and restaurants, Tunisia’s third largest city, Sousse, offers a blend of old and new. In the heart of the city, arched gates

orange-blossom water in a hilltop café. Most famous is Café des Nattes where you just may sit in the very spot where some of Sidi Bou Said’s most famous patrons—Paul Klee, Simone de Beauvoir and André Gide—took inspiration and repose. Although there’s an adequate dose of sun and sea in the suburbs of Tunis, it’s the strand along Hammamet Bay

and 9th century walls topped with rounded crenellations are among the best-preserved in the country. Two strongholds, the 11th century Kasbah and the Ribat, an 8th century monastic fortress that in its heyday served both military and religious purposes, are among the city’s most prominent historical structures. Intrepid visitors can climb the spiraling, claustrophobic staircase of the Ribat’s

Sousse’s Ribat is known for its arched courtyard and views over the city. 66

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89-foot nador (watchtower), then pop like shot peas out of the small opening at the top for an impressive view of the medina and the Kasbah perched high at the southern end of the ramparts. The Kasbah now houses Tunisia’s second most important museum, the Archaeological Museum of Sousse. Many of the museum’s Roman and Byzantine mosaics were retrieved from the city’s Christian catacombs, which explains the preponderance of biblical scenes and symbols.

The Sousse Museum is known for its intricate mosaics, such as the ones covering this 6th century baptismal font.

Equally striking are other mosaics made up of animal motifs, geometric patterns or mythological figures, and the funereal relics of Punic and Roman times. Between the Kasbah and the Ribat, Sousse’s medina is a riot of color bustle and zing. Neatly partitioned into sections selling household items, souvenirs and food, this medina is less confusing than its larger counterparts but with all the character of a traditional Tunisian market.

Sousse’s fish market boasts an amazing array of fish and seafood, including octopus, a favored Tunisian delicacy.

Tunisian carpets are among the most sought after souvenirs.

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Marina Yasmine Hammamet

The beach below the Kasbah in Hammamet.

Sandaled feet slap along cobblestone alleyways lined with blazing hot peppers, candied nuts, dates, and bags of pungent spices. Although visitors tend to focus on items they can take home as souvenirs—such as kilim and mergoum woven carpets, glazed ceramic plates from Nabeul, or burnished copper goods—it’s the foodstuffs that

there’s one thing that unites the goods, it’s how clean and organized the souks and bazaars are. Six miles away, historical authenticity gives way to purpose-built tourism in the Port of El Kantaoui, a modern resort built in 1979 to include a golf course, theme parks, and a huge artificial harbor surrounded by chic boutiques

offer the most authentic image of daily life in Sousse. A bakery full of freshly baked breads and pastries evokes childhood memories of cartoon characters floating towards a heavenly scent. In the fish market, a galaxy of freshly caught fish—from tiny anchovies and sardines to giant Bluefin tuna—gleams among cuttlefish, squid, and octopus, their suckered arms and tentacles spilling like beaded curtains out of plastic latticed crates. Down another alley, tables piled with exotic fruits and vegetables attract shoppers in search of artichokes, dates, pomegranates, persimmons, apricots and other Tunisian comestibles. If

and upscale restaurants. With cobbled streets, stone archways and buildings painted in the traditional blue and white colors of village houses, Port El Kantaoui has tried to incorporate time-honored architectural elements into its contemporary tourist complex. While the effect falls short of the real deal, it’s nevertheless a popular place for sybarites in search of a modern holiday playground. Farther up the coast, Hammamet, too, straddles the centuries with one area devoted to the past and another, known as Yasmine Hammamet, to contemporary tourism. Named for Tunisia’s national flower, Yasmine Hammamet

Swimming pool at the Hasdrubai Thalassa & Spa Hotel in Yasmine Hammamet.


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One of many beaches that stretch along the Gulf of Hammamet.

is a hot bed of casinos, dinner shows, theme parks, mega hotel complexes and an impressive marina brimming with luxury yachts and pleasure boats. The scene here is a far cry from the traditional fishing village that spread around an old Spanish fortress until the 1930s when a dashing Romanian, named George Sebastian, built himself

over Hammamet Bay and its arcing sandy shore. Attached to the Citadel, the medina echoes the spirit of old Tunisia found in town centers throughout the country. Metal workers ping copper and brass plates and merchants hawk ceramics, leather goods, embroideries and carpets. Local men play checkers or cards, or suck on hookah water

a cliff-top villa and put Hammamet on the map. Known as Dar Sebastian, the villa was praised by architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, and drew a veritable who’s who of European and American glitterati to its receptions. Partaking of dishes like plump Tunisian partridge and fresh figs from the garden, were the likes of Winston Churchill, Wallace Simpson, Jean Cocteau, André Gide, Paul Klee, Cecil Beaton, Greta Garbo and Somerset Maugham. The villa is now the International Cultural Center of Hammamet, and the old Spanish fortress, also known as the Kasbah or Citadel, a museum with excellent views from its ramparts

pipes, the latter a pasttime shared by tourists of both genders in the crowded cafés. But away from the buzz and whirr of the commercial sector lies a quiet world that hasn’t changed much in the last few centuries. Here, in typical traditional Tunisian style, the ubiquitous white houses with rooftop patios and nail-studded doors lie sprinkled like sugar cubes, a buffer of calm between the bustling souks of the medina and the blue-green expanse of the sea. Had Pepé le Pew really visited Tunisia, he’d likely have stayed. ■

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Hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh speak onstage during the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California.



GOLDEN GLOBES A TO ETURN LITTER AND OLOR At last year’s Golden Globes Awards, guests wore black to honor the Time’s Up movement focusing on gender and racial inequality in the entertainment industry. This year, Lady Gaga’s scene-stealing, voluminous, periwinkle Valentino ballgown celebrated the return of color to the Red Carpet, and visible support of the protest was limited to black and white bracelets. There was also not much issue-related speech-making, compared to last year - although Glenn Close’s tearful comment on the importance of women striving for “personal fulfillment” received a standing ovation. Overall, the 76th Golden Globe Awards evening – opening salvo of Hollywood’s awards season – was less rambunctious than usual. The fact that alcohol is served, and the atmosphere is relaxed and convivial to a greater extent than the more solemn Oscars has in the past produced - a carefree climate has provided a platform for the respective hosts to be rather spontaneous with the jokes. This year’s ceremony was delightfully calm and composed. Where British comedian Ricky Gervais, when he hosted the evening, spewed insults like pellets from a shotgun, presenters Sandra Oh – herself nominated for her role in Killing Eve – and Andy Samberg of Brooklyn Nine-Nine were gracious and dignified. Sandra Oh even expressed her host humor with a bit of diplomatic regard

when she gave a shout out to her parents, bowing respectfully, hands clasped

continue to page 83

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in front of her. Oh's parents bowed back with joy. Civility ruled the night and it was a pleasure to be a spectator. Even so, this year’s Golden Globes Awards still managed to maintain its reputation as an evening of surprises. The 90 or so members of the Hollywood Foreign Press, whose show this is, stunned the audience by choosing Bohemian Rhapsody as the winner of the dramatic motion picture category, beating out A Star is Born, the very strong favorite, and then stretched credulity ever farther by naming Green Book best motion picture, musical or comedy. The former, a Freddy Mercury biopic had not been well received by critics; as for Green Book, the Wall Street Journal called it “a movie, that’s not a musical, not a comedy and not the best of anything.” The ebullient Olivia Colman, also British, for her role in

Spike Lee, Tonya Lewis Lee

Rachel Brosnahan from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” accepts the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy award onstage during the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 06, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

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The Favorite, and Glenn Close in The Wife. Still, despite being seen as more cheerful than credible, Golden Globe awards are often a good forecast of which nominees will go on to win Oscars, pinnacle accolade of the 9,000-member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But the Golden

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Emily Blunt



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Globes lead a double life: unlike the Oscars, awards are also given for TV as well as the movies, which increasingly makes sense as the lines between the two mediums blur, and some noteworthy films premier on streaming platforms. In his acceptance speech, Michael Douglas, who won for his lead role in a television comedy for The Kominsky Method – a Netflix production - said the rise of streaming media had lured big-screen stars like himself, “has made television much more acceptable.” Without commercials, he said, “it’s as

Fiona Xie


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Some male guests also preened a little – well, a lot, actually. Spike Lee wore purple, Bradley Cooper was pristine in all-white, Billy Porter swished his bejeweled Randi Rahm cape to show the pink silk lining to photographers. Without question the biggest loser was A Star is Born despite its multiple nominations and favorable press. But also without question, Bradley Cooper’s movie lives to fight another day. A Star is Born may not have been considered anything special by the voting journalists of the filmdom’s Foreign Press Association, but there are more than enough Motion Picture Academy members who still subscribe to the old Hollywood belief that if a film is worth making, it’s worth making again. And this is the fourth re-make of A Star is Born. ■

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close as you can get to a short film.” Another major movie star, Julia Roberts, was nominated for her first foray into television in Amazon’s The Homecoming, but lost to Sandra Oh (Killing Eve). In the fashion line-up Roberts was one of the few who wore black even though that theme was primarily for last year. Otherwise, as if to contrast 2018, white and red were the two biggest colors of the night - Sandra Oh in a red Versace tuxedo dress, Julianne Moore in Givenchy, Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu in Vera Wang, to say nothing of Jamie Lee Curtis, and Dakota Fanning. The next most visible color was green, as worn by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Yeoh, and others.

Presenters Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga speak onstage during the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California.


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Profile for Diplomatic Connections

Diplomatic Connections Mar/Apr 2019  

Ambassadorial interviews. International politics.

Diplomatic Connections Mar/Apr 2019  

Ambassadorial interviews. International politics.