Interview with Mrs. Natalia Tymoshenko.
By Bonnie Klap, Editor in Chief.
Mrs. Natalia Tymoshenko, the wife of the Ambassador of Ukraine, is a brave lady. Although she has broken her leg, she insists we proceed with the interview and warmly welcomes me in her residence, sitting on the couch with her leg in a cast. She is ready for her first question.
1). Tell us a bit about your background, such as education, profession and family.
“ I come from a family of doctors. My mother and all the relatives from my mother’s side were doctors, as was my father. He was also Member of the Medical Academy, not only in the former USSR, but in several European countries as well, such as Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary. However, I never saw myself as a doctor and I believe it is always important to do what you want and what you are good at. So I graduated from the National University in Kiev, holding my Masters in Russian language and literature and after a few years I obtained my PhD in Russian language. I have worked as a Professor of Russian language twice in Austria and for more than 10 years I worked as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of International Relations and International Law, which is where I met Olexander, my husband, who was the Professor of International Relations there. I have always followed my husband to his postings: USA, Canada, Singapore and now here in The Netherlands. I have published more than 60 articles, as well as three books, mostly on Diplomatic Protocol and etiquette and have also participated in radio and TV shows. As for our family, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year and both our children live with us here in The Netherlands. Natalia studies Economy and Finance at the University of Amsterdam and our son Alex goes to school in The Hague. They are both happy here. Natalia worked as a volunteer in an animal shelter and Alex participated in several charity runs.”
2). You have now lived in The Netherlands for several years. Can you share an anecdote with us? Did you experience anything funny, or strange, or unexpected or very original?
“ We are very happy to live here. It is a great country with a rich history, culture and friendly people. I find that there is a very small distance between the various levels of Dutch society. For instance, we have met Mr. Rutte, Prime Minister of The Netherlands, who was accompanied by only one person. How different that is from many other countries! My husband greeted Mr. Rutte and they started to discuss some business. It was as simple as that. I think that was quite extraordinary. Also I can see that the people here enjoy their life, at the sea, in the café, they know how to cherish life. I love and admire their sense of well-being, which they call ‘gezellig.’”
3). What can you tell us about the cultural aspects of Ukraine, such as archtitecture, music etc.?
“ Ukraine was populated many centuries BC. It was known by ancient Greeks and Romans and there are still remnants of their settlements here. In our museums we have a great collection of Scythian art, specifically Scythian gold. As for music, Ukraine is well known for its folk songs, classical and pop music. Our language is very melodic. The famous writer Nikolai Gogol was born in Ukraine and the great composer Petr Tchaikovsky was a descendant of the famous Ukrainian Cossack family Tchaika. Regarding architecture, I can mention the Odessa Opera House and the wooden churches in Western Ukraine and certainly the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, which is on the UNESCO Heritage List, but then again, we could talk for days about Ukrainian culture.”