In July 2020, in the midst of COVID-related restrictions and a flurry of new regulations, ambassadors from all over the world, European and Dutch civil servants, and some distinguished members of the Austrian diaspora all gathered at Leonardo Royal Hotel in The Hague to pay tribute and bid farewell to Her Excellency Dr. Heidemaria Gürer. For the diplomatic life of the city, this was definitely an important moment.
An inimitable ambassador, Dr. Gürer brought a new life to the Austrian official presence in The Hague. Besides being an excellent diplomat, Dr. Gürer has been appreciated by all those around her for her culture, her intelligence, and her open-mindedness. She has been a close friend of ambassadors from all quarters of the world – Latin America, Asia, and Africa, as well as the European region at large. In her tenure, she has been a passionate supporter of the European cause, and she has shown a great deal of mastery in public diplomacy, reaching out to every and each segment of the Dutch population, as well as to the civil servants of almost every institution in the Netherlands. In addition to all of this, throughout her time in the city she has also been a keen promoter of gender equality.
The event started with Austria’s National Anthem, followed by the Netherlands’ National Anthem – both of which solemnly resonated in the room to mark the importance of the occasion.
During the ceremony, Diplomat Magazine handed a Certificate of Merit to Dr. Gürer, in recognition of her outstanding contribution. During her tenor, the ambassador tirelessly and successfully worked to strengthen Austria’s bilateral ties with the Kingdom of the Netherlands and to promote her country’s strategic diplomatic engagement. Her involvement in the work of international organizations was extremely significant, and her performance during the Austrian presidency of the EU was exceptional. In addition, she provided an extremely valuable support to the Dutch and Austrian community, as well as to the media and the diplomatic community more at large.
His Excellency Mr. Kevin Kelly, Ambassador of Ireland, made an outstanding speech in honour of Dr. Gürer.
“I am delighted and honoured to be invited to come here this afternoon to say a few words in honour of our dear colleague Heidemaria. I say it is an honour because throughout our professional careers as diplomats we meet many people from many diverse backgrounds and countries. The older one gets, the more diplomats one gets to interact with. And the more one observes the craft of diplomacy from its different angles and dimensions, the more one gains an appreciation of what a good diplomat is” – ambassador Kelly said.
He continued by praising his colleagues: “Let me share some of the words and phrases used by her colleagues in the diplomatic community to describe Heidemaria: a very professional and active diplomat, with clear positions on many topics; a visible gender champion and a role model for younger colleagues. Heide’s energy, expertise and sense of humour are hard to beat. She has been impossible to keep up with – she followed everything, she knew everything, she organized a gazillion events. The super active EU presidency organized by Heidemaria set higher standards for presidencies that followed.”
“Her dedication to the cause of integrating the Western Balkans into the EU was a genuine and consistent theme of her engagement with the Dutch Government and opinion-leaders in this country” – ambassador Kelly continued. “When I think of Heidemaria, I will always remember the great events she organized, such as the unforgettable Viennesse Ball with the Habsburgs – old Vienna brought to life with charm and elegance and beautiful ballroom dancing – and of course the Legal Soirees in her historic Residence with the ancient portraits overlooking our serious deliberations.”
“On my own behalf, I have personally appreciated your generosity and openness” – the Irish ambassador said, directly addressing Dr. Gürer. “Ireland and Austria are likeminded countries on a great deal of topics – our commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, our enthusiasm for the EU, our shared understanding of the importance of a values-based foreign policy. Of course, we also have a few topics we do not entirely agree upon (I won’t mention their alliance with the Frugal Four!), but I can safely say that when it comes to Heidemaria and myself as individuals, we are completely likeminded. Over the past years we have tended to see eye-to-eye on almost every topic of discussion.”
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Her Excellency Fatou Bensouda, also praised the ambassador Gürer’s professionalism and her interest in the court functioning. “She was present and always supportive of our initiatives; she will be missed by a great number of people” – the Prosecutor said.
At the end of the ceremony, Her Excellency Dr. Heidemaria Gürer thanked everyone, and looked back at her time in The Hague as a very precious and important part of the never-ending process of learning. As she prepared to leave the country, Diplomat Magazine raised a toast to Heidemaria!
Thanks to Diplomatic Card for their valuable and constant support in making this event possible. We also thanks to Leonardo Royal Hotel for their constant collaboration in every event organized by Diplomat Magazine.