Ashton makes new diplomatic appointments
by Daniel Mason
Catherine Ashton's latest round of recruitments sees 25 new heads of European Union delegations around the world, as well as three new directors, appointed to the European External Action Service which she heads.
An Austrian, Thomas Mayr-Harting, was named as the European Union's representative at the United Nations headquarters in New York. He is currently Austria's ambassador to the UN and is a former president of the UN Security Council. Ioannis Vrailas, a Greek, will serve as his deputy. Other positions filled include the heads of delegations in India, Turkey, Japan, and Switzerland.
Making the announcement yesterday, Ashton said she was "impressed by the quality of the candidates for these important posts," adding: "The opportunity to represent the EU in the word continues to attract the brightest and best diplomats." She also said she was pleased that there were more women among the appointments than last year, but that there were "still not enough". Eight of the 25 appointments were female, taking the total number in management positions in delegations to 31, still only 22 per cent.
Diplomats on secondment from national foreign ministries now make up 45 of the 149 management positions, close to the one-third target. Four of the latest appointments are from countries that joined the EU in 2004 or 2007. They include two diplomats from the Czech Republic and one each from Hungary and Romania. It brings the total representatives of new member states to 21, while overall 24 out of 27 member states are represented.
Today Ashton added three new directors to her staff at the EEAS. Frans Jacob Potuyt was named director for security, having previously served in a similar role in the Dutch foreign ministry. Koen Vervaeke, a Belgian, takes on the role of director for the horn of Africa, east and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region.
Vervaeke has experience in the region as a special representative to the African Union in Ethiopia. And an Italian, Fernando Gentilini, will be director for western Europe, the western Balkans and Turkey. He currently advises the EEAS on the western Balkans. Ashton said the candidates' experience and expertise would be "invaluable".