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Putin names new ambassador to Canada

By Laura Beaulne-Stuebing      

Slovakia has a new envoy, former Yemeni ambassador become's country's prime minister.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree on Oct. 24 appointing Alexander Darchiev as Russia’s next ambassador to Canada. Mr. Darchiev replaces Georgiy Mamedov, who wrapped up his posting on June 23 after serving as ambassador for over a decade.

Mr. Darchiev has been heading the department of North American affairs in the Russian foreign ministry, and previously served as the chargé d'affaires in his country’s embassy in Washington. He’ll likely face a frosty reception on his arrival to Ottawa. Relations between the two countries have worsened over the past months with both Canada and Russia issuing sanctions on the other.

The Canadian government is staunchly in support of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, and showed a warm reception for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on his official visit to Ottawa on Sept. 17. Canada also sent over 200 observers to monitor Ukraine’s parliamentary election on Oct. 26.

In a press release, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the election is “an important step in the process of strengthening democracy in Ukraine, and its people continue to show resilience, courage and commitment to building a more peaceful and prosperous country for themselves, in the face of military aggression by the Putin regime, which seeks to deny them this right.”

Just before his departure, Mr. Mamedov aired concerns over the Canadian government’s response to the ongoing conflict and annexation of Crimea.

“You try to demonize us,” he said in an interview with CTV News. "There is more to a relationship than just propaganda.”

"People of Crimea always felt they were part of Russia," Mr. Mamedov said.

Slovakia’s new envoy

The white walls of Slovakia’s spacious embassy in Ottawa was decorated with the colourful works of Slovak-Canadian artist Yana Yablonovsky, as the country's new ambassador, Andrej Droba, sat down to discuss his priorities while posted to Canada.

Mr. Droba, who presented his credentials in Quebec City on Oct. 2, noted that the paintings would be coming down that day and replaced with what had been there before; Ms. Yablonovsky’s work was on display as a special exhibition for 10 days.

One of Mr. Droba’s goals while in Canada is to try to raise the profile of Slovakia, perhaps through more efforts and events similar to the exhibition surrounding him in the embassy.

“It is a beautiful country worth visiting…We offer beautiful cities, we offer great mountains, we offer cultural sights,” Mr. Droba said. “It's a great, prosperous country that is a partner to Canada, that is welcome to tourists and would be glad to see many more Canadians visit.”

He added that he recently had about two dozen prominent members of the Slovak community in Ottawa over for dinner and a “brainstorming session” to drum up ideas of what the embassy can do for its people in Canada.

“What they need from us, what we could focus on, how to make sure that the Slovak community has the attention and the funds and the resources they need to do their activities,” he said.

Mr. Droba has served in Slovakia’s foreign ministry in a number of capacities, including counsellor and deputy chief of mission in Washington and most recently as director in the the office of the minister.

His first few weeks on the job were slightly hampered by a medical emergency on Oct. 19, but Mr. Droba said his experience with the Canadian health-care system was smooth sailing.

“I didn't have a feeling that there was so much paperwork and waiting, so it was a very smooth and very human-like process,” he said.

Hungary’s ambassador-designate jumps in

Bálint Ódor is Hungary’s next ambassador to Canada, replacing Laszlo Pordany, who left earlier this year. The ambassador-designate, formerly the deputy secretary of state for European affairs in the Hungarian foreign ministry, is expected to present his credentials in November.

But he's already hit the ground running, having welcomed his foreign minister to Ottawa on Oct. 23 for a meeting with Foreign Minister John Baird. Busy times, indeed!

Former ambassador appointed Yemen's prime minister

Yemen's former ambassador to Canada, Khaled Bahah, has been from one place to another, and from holding one title to another, since the spring, finally landing as his country's prime minister this month.

First, in March, he was speedily appointed as his country's oil and minerals minister, and bid Ottawa, his colleagues and friends a quick and hasty goodbye.

Then, in August, he was appointed Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations.

A press release from the Yemeni Embassy in Ottawa said Mr. Bahah met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Aug. 13 and discussed "working towards building a new Yemen" and that the UN head condemned terrorist activity in the area.

Then, in mid-October, Mr. Bahah was appointed Yemen's prime minister by the country's president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a departure from previous roles.

Mr. Bahah was in Canada from 2009 to 2014 and was quite the active and friendly diplomat. Within months after starting his ambassadorial gig in Ottawa, he took up the presidency of the Ottawa Diplomatic Association.

Before heading Yemen's embassy in Ottawa, Mr. Bahah worked for Nexen, the oil and gas company, and served at Yemen's oil and minerals minister, a job he returned to briefly this year.

Canadian diplomatic appointments

Foreign Minister John Baird announced on Oct. 24 the new appointments of three Canadian diplomats abroad.

Heather Cruden, the high commissioner in Bangladesh since 2011, replaces Greg Giokas as the high commissioner to Pakistan. Ms. Cruden had previously served as the senior development officer in the North Africa and Middle East Branch at CIDA as well as senior program manager for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States/Jamaica. She’s worked in the Privy Council Office as an analyst for global affairs and later head of aid in Accra, Baghdad and Ramallah.

Sidney Frank is joining wife Ivy Lerner-Frank, who is a trade commissioner posted to New Delhi, in India as consul general in Bangalore. Mr. Frank has held numerous positions at Canada’s mission in Beijing. He’s also been posted to New Delhi, serving as minister (immigration) and South Asia regional director.

Philip H. Pinnington is Canada’s new ambassador to Serbia. The diplomat’s served as director of bilateral relations and operations in the Europe and Eurasia bureau and director in the office of transformation. He’s also served in the Canadian mission in Dublin and Brussels. Mr. Pinnington was part of the transition team to manage the amalgamation of the former DFAIT and former CIDA in 2013. He replaces Roman Waschuk in Serbia.


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