Ambassador in Berlin

Ambassador in Berlin
Dr. Josef Wolf

exclusiv in an interview
with Ambassador Dr. Josef Wolf
Principality of Liechtenstein
Embassy in Berlin

• Your Excellency, you have been
   ambassador extraordinary and
   plenipotentiary of the Principality
   of Liechtenstein in the Federal Republic
   of Germany since December 2002.
   Your Excellency, what is your personal
   upshot after nearly four years?

Indeed, I have the honourable duty to be active as the first resident ambassador of the Principality of Liechtenstein in the Federal Republic of Germany. We were previously      represented by a non-resident ambassador. My personal upshot after four years: It is incredibly important to be present on the scene. I think that in the past we could have more positively influenced the German press reportage on Liechten-stein and more rapidly and corrected some things if we had already been permanently represented in Germany at an earlier point in time. One also attaches great importance to the host country with the establishment of an embassy. You must bear in mind that our embassy in Berlin is only one of eight diplomatic missions worldwide. Due to its European central position and its size, Germany will also always have repercussions on our country in the future.

• Your Excellency, according
   to your personal assessment
   of the activity as ambassador,
   in which fields were you able
   to provide inspirations which were
   accepted and implemented?

I always endeavour to emphasise Liech-tenstein’s affiliation with the German linguistic and cultural region by speaking up for the promotion of artistic and cultural projects which correspond to the interests of both countries. On this score I count Liechtenstein’s support for the Academy of Arts or the reconstruction of the Catholic-theological Guardini chair at the Humboldt University in Berlin. The political relations in the past four years have also been intensified, for instance through the visit by several Bundestag «Lower House of the German Parliament» committees to Liechten-stein. As ambassador, I can certainly set the accents through the direct contact with the German policy-makers in the realms of politics, economy and culture. In particular, this entails the personal discussions in which I can correct prejudices vis-à-vis Liechtenstein and am able to put into perspective the lopsided     perception of the country as a financial location.

• What does your time management
   look like, or how can the citizens of
   Liechtenstein envision the daily agenda  
   and your activity as an ambassador?

My working day starts with a look at the daily newspapers. Almost every day there are discussions with Bundestag representatives, state secretaries, rep-resentatives from trade associations as well as cultural institutions in my appointments book. We meticulously follow the political processes within Germany. Topics relevant to Liechten-stein are processed and the responsible agencies of the national administration are informed. Conversely, the embassy is available for information and clarifica-tions from Liechtenstein. I maintain numerous formal and informal contacts with ambassador colleagues as well as senior officials in the ministries. On the one hand, the embassy obtains important detailed information through these contacts; and on the other hand, a valuable sensitisation for Liechtenstein concerns often succeeds on this level.

• What does the cooperation between
   the Principality of Liechtenstein
   and your host country look like?
   Where do the main emphases lie?

The cooperation with the officials and associations develops quite well. Our association with the German-speaking cultural region, to which I refer to over and over again, is a binding element. Nevertheless, as the representative of a small country it is also sometimes         difficult for me to obtain appointments with policy-makers. In the past four years - as already indicated above - I have attempted to place Liechtenstein’s image on a more objective basis and also at the same time to particularly  portray Liechtenstein as an industrial and corporate location. Several visits by Bundestag committees and high-ranking German personalities have already taken place on the political level.

• Your Excellency, as ambassador,
   do you have a vision for the future,
   or what means a lot to you?

As a representative of my country, the maintenance of good relations between Germany and Liechtenstein is a permanent concern to me. The position of the small states in the coalescing Europe means a lot to me. On the one hand, small countries such as Liechtenstein enjoy full state sovereignty. On the other hand, they are dependent on the goodwill of neighbours, in particular the large states. My vision for the future is nothing less than the longterm preservation of peace in Europe.

Ambassador Josef Wolf will step into the well-deserved retirement at the end of
the year 2006.