Top Photo: The White House
By Ambassador Hans Peter Manz
It is always a bittersweet moment when a posting comes to an end. Looking back, you remember the many people met, the wonderful places visited and the more or less successful efforts to accomplish your mission – and it is hard to let go because you know about the projects in the pipeline and that you will not be there to see them completed. But you also look forward to returning home and reconnecting with old friends.
Four years in Washington seem to have passed by in a flash, yet there are tons of memories of my time in the U.S. to cherish. The incredible team at the Embassy deserves a lot of credit for its energy and commitment to doing the best job possible. I could not have done mine without my colleagues’ great support. But all our combined efforts would not have led anywhere if we had not had so many amazing partners in all areas of our work. I will not even try to list them here as such a list would probably take up most of this issue.
But I would like to thank all of you for your assistance, your guidance and your passionate interest in furthering the relations between Austria and the U.S. These four years have also been a period of rapid change, not all of it for the better. The complexity of the challenges we face has increased while the flood of real-time information and disinformation seems to make it more and more impossible to focus on the core issues.
Still recovering from the effects of the financial crisis, we have to deal with more failing states, the greatest migration since 1945, a resurgence of terrorism, disregard for international law, as well as the effects of climate change and the fundamental restructuring of our economies. Although there has been real progress on some long-standing, difficult questions, our societies remain to be convinced that we are on the right path. As a self-confessed political junkie, I obviously found Washington exhilarating – with the inherent limitation that U.S. politics is, of course, only a spectator sport for a foreign diplomat.
All politics may be local, but we are always aware of the impact of everything that happens here on the global scene. As a member of the baby boom generation, I still remain fundamentally optimistic. We grew up in a time when a third World War on European soil seemed likely, with a nuclear ending a realistic possibility. We have experienced home-grown and foreign terrorists committing atrocities.
We have dealt with economic setbacks and throughout this, all our societies have gotten older, healthier and wealthier than ever before. As I bid you all goodbye, I hope that we will draw on these strengths to overcome our present problems. Not only do we owe this to our parents and grandparents who fought so hard to get us here, we owe it most of all to the next generations.
For the last four years, I have tried to do my bit in this, our common endeavor. I hand over to a most accomplished friend and colleague, Ambassador Wolfgang Waldner, whom you will meet in the next issue of Austrian Information. I know that he will do a great job and I hope that he will enjoy the same cooperation and advice from you that I was privileged to have.
Servus, until we meet again…
Ambassador Hans Peter Manz