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Ukraine’s high-profile ambassador heading home

By Laura Beaulne-Stuebing      

Hungary's ambassador-designate to present credentials on Nov. 18 and Indonesia's envoy to wrap up posting this month.

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Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko, the media-savvy envoy who helmed his country's mission through a radical change in government, is set to head back to Kyiv at the request of Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko.

Mr. Prystaiko is slated to bid Ottawa farewell within the next few weeks, according to the embassy, after almost two years on the job.

Zoriana Stsiban, second secretary at the embassy, said on Oct. 31 that Mr. Poroshenko is calling Mr. Prystaiko back because the president holds him in high regard and needs professional people working with him in Ukraine.

Mr. Prystaiko has become a familiar face in both the diplomatic corps and Ottawa political community, appearing regularly (several days in a row, at times) on television political programs to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Over the course of his two years in Canada, his country's government has gone from the Canadian-government bad books to its good ones.

When protests erupted in Ukraine late last year over whether the country should align itself closer to Europe or Russia, Mr. Prystaiko saw members of the 1.2 million-strong Ukrainian diaspora in the pro-Europe camp demonstrate in front of the embassy on several occasions. He faced death threats and had police patrolling around his home. A first secretary at the embassy resigned during the protests, saying that she disagreed with the violence that security forces meted out against protesters in Ukraine. The Canadian foreign affairs department called in Mr. Prystaiko to express its disapproval with his government.

Within a few months, after Ukraine changed to a Western-friendly government, Ukraine's frosty relations with Canada suddenly thawed, and Mr. Prystaiko sat beside Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a couple photo opportunities in Mr. Harper's office. Mr. Poroshenko received a warm welcome from Canadian parliamentarians on his official visit to Ottawa on Sept. 17.

As has become common for Ukrainian elections, Canada sent close to 200 observers, including parliamentarians, to monitor Ukraine’s parliamentary election on Oct. 26.

Mr. Prystaiko has been Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada since December 2012. He is joined in Canada by his wife Inna. They have two sons: Volodymyr and Andrii.

Mr. Prystaiko has worked within Ukraine’s foreign ministry in various positions, including as deputy director general for NATO, and has held postings in Sydney, Australia as well as Washington.

He was previously posted as a political counsellor in Ukraine’s embassy in Ottawa. That stint included work as the acting chargé d'affaires.

Hungary’s next top envoy jumps from EU affairs

The title of ambassador will become official for Hungary's Bálint Ódor on Nov. 18, when he and other ambassadors-designate are set to present their credentials to the governor general in Ottawa.

He’s already had a busy two first weeks in Canada, with a reception on Oct. 23 at the embassy to mark the visit of Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, and the anniversary of Hungary’s 1956 revolution, as well as a couple visits to Toronto and one visit to Montreal.

Mr. Ódor is coming from another very busy job back home. He said in an interview with Embassy on Nov. 4 that he hopes he’ll have a little bit more free time to spend with his wife and one year-old daughter, and to pursue academic interests while working as a first-time ambassador in Canada.

Mr. Ódor served as deputy state secretary for European Union affairs under the 2011 Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union. He was also European director in Hungary’s foreign ministry, where, according to the government of Hungary website, he supervised European co-ordination and EU economic policy.

“I used to work very tough, back in Europe, with European countries. I had to travel twice a week to big European capitals, to Brussels or the big capitals,” he said.

“Now I'd really like to enjoy more of my family,” Mr. Ódor continued. “I think in Canada…that can be done also, much more easily.”

The ambassador-designate is the co-author of three books, all on the topic of the Lisbon Treaty, a core European Union document. He also recently completed a PhD in which he looked, theoretically and with practical experience of working in the field, at a new voting mechanism for the Council of Europe. Specifically, he looked at how the new voting mechanism would change the position of Hungary and other countries.

“But you know this was done in 2010, so the European union has changed so much, so I should re-write a new one,” he said of the books he’s written.

"For Europe, everything is new,” he added. “New programs, new budget. So if I will be so lucky to have enough time…I [will] try to continue this academic [pursuit].”

Fall’s a time for change at Indonesia’s embassy

The Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa is seeing a few people come and a few go these days. Ambassador Dienne H. Moehario is set to wrap up her posting on Nov. 23, to be replaced by Faizasyah, who is head of protocol in Jakarta, according to the embassy. Many Indonesians go by one name, like the incoming envoy.

Cecilia Rusdiharini, the embassy’s political counsellor, left on Oct. 5. She went back to Jakarta to work in the department of foreign affairs and her role is temporarily being filled by third secretary Nova Maulani. The embassy will be filling Ms. Rusdiharini’s old job in the coming months.

Canadian Tourism Commission gets hew head

On Oct. 16 Maxime Bernier, minister of state for small business and tourism, announced the appointment of David Goldstein as the new president and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

Mr. Goldstein currently holds the same position for the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, a lobby group that represents the Canadian travel and tourism sector. He's replacing Greg Klassen at the CTC, who was holding onto the president and CEO role on an interim basis.

Mr. Klassen was holding fort after the departure of Michele McKenzie who was at the helm of the agency for 10 years and announced her departure in the fall of 2013.

A press release from the Canadian government noted that Mr. Goldstein was a key architect in Industry Canada's Federal Tourism Strategy.

Mr. Goldstein's appointment was received as great news by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

"We wish to extend our sincere congratulations to David Goldstein," stated a press release, commending Mr. Bernier, from the organization on Oct. 16.

According to Rob Taylor, TIAC’s vice president for public and industry affairs, the association will be announcing more details of how it will proceed with its search to replace Mr. Goldstein soon.



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