By Roy Lie Atjam
The Hague,15 November 2022, the Diplomatic in The Hague bids farewell to H.E. Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee Arenales of Guatemala.
Hence, Diplomat Magazine organized a Ceremony of Merit in recognition for what this esteemed Ambassador has achieved during his stint in the Netherlands.
Diplomat Magazine awards a certificate of merit to departing Ambassadors as a token for their outstanding contribution to strengthening the ties between their countries and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Furthermore, for the significant collaboration with the multilateral institutions in the Netherlands.
H.E. Mr. Vusimuzi Madonsela, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr. Mario Oyarzabal, Ambassador of Argentina, and H.E. Mr. Juan Bautista Duran, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, lauded and thanked Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee for what he has achieved for the Diplomatic Community.
In his valediction speech Ambassador Vusimuzi Madonsela noted:
“May I say how absolutely mortified I am with the news I have recently received, of the imminent departure from The Hague of a dear brother and friend, HE, Mr Jorge Skinner-Klee Arnales, Ambassador of the Republic of Guatemala to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the OPCW.
To be sure, it is with mixed feelings of both pleasure and affliction that I accepted the invitation to attend this function this evening. Pleasure, because a pleasant duty now devolves upon me to say farewell to one of the most quixotic diplomats of our time.
Affliction, because I have always harboured profound admiration for any man who is witty; and so witty, eloquent and refined Jorge no doubt is. My affliction proceeds from the fact that Jorge was amongst the first Ambassadors I was so fortunate as to strike an acquaintance with, and no sooner did I become accustomed to being guided by his sound judgment on important matters of diplomatic life.
On such matters, I dare say, Jorge possesses great natural acuteness, sharply improved by his many years of diplomatic practice, all of which great attributes render him a rare breed amongst his peers. He is a quintessential diplomat who is able to, in an instant, pointedly observe and discern important matters of state and then express an opinion in the most measured manner, infused with beautiful banter and repartee – a trait that a seasoned diplomat requires, more especially in a multilateral setting such as we have in The Hague.
There is, of course, another circumstance about the suddenness of the announcement of his imminent departure, which aggravate my affliction, which has to do with the fact that he is destined to depart before the 27th Session of the Conference of States Parties, over which I will have the distinguished honour and privilege to preside. In this regard I only wish to say this: that I have constantly observed that amongst the deeds and sayings of illustrious persons, some have joined the cacophony of loud voices in the world and became known for that, whilst others have been really sound yet calm, and therefore less talked about. Jorge forms part of the latter category, which is why when I grow up, I would like to be like him.
I am confirmed in the opinion I have just expressed by a conversation I had a few days ago with his Deputy Head of Mission, another dear brother of mine, Lester Antonio Ortega Lemus, a colleague upon the sharpness of whose judgment of character I very much rely, as much as I do upon the goodness of his taste in many finer things in life: not because I think his discernment very great, for I don’t want to make him conceited, but because I think it as good as mine: which, I must confess, counts a great deal.
Undoubtedly, Jorge’s great fame already precedes his move to Vienna; but many of out there will surely find him even more wonderful than they have heard of him. He possesses the utmost readiness, copiousness, and abundance of wit and vivacity; which enable him to often speak quite extempore, with punch lines that are as finished as though he had spent a long time over their written composition.
His convivial character and charming style, I dare say, is unmistakably Latino, or is it perhaps ultimately Guatemalan, with his introductions into many conversations being particularly elegant, absorbing and very impressive.
Jorge brings into conversations various subjects for discussion, allows his colleagues their choice, and at once has everything almost equally at command. His prologue is always to the point, his narrative lucid and his rhetorical ornament very imposing. In a word, he teaches, entertains, and affects you; so much you end up being at a loss to decide which of the three he does best. Invariably, questions about recondite meanings of things in diplomacy I have posed to him, and words – whatever words they are which consist his response, come out of his mouth exquisitely chosen and polished.
As for his memory, you would hardly believe what it is capable of. He, extempore, repeats what he has previously said, as if it was only yesterday, without even missing a single word. Undoubtedly, this marvellous faculty he has acquired by dint of great application and practice. He reminds that those of us who still have to go through the long and arduous journey of diplomacy must make every effort not to contract a certain unprincipled adroitness know as duplicity.
Indeed, Jorge’s generation of diplomats has produced a plentiful crop of fine orators. It has always been a pleasure to me to find that a taste for polite arts still exists in today’s world, and that men and women of genius do come forward and make themselves known, notwithstanding the lazy attention they sometimes get for their pains.
So, knowing, as I have come to, as to how much Jorge admires the polite arts, and what satisfaction he takes in seeing some of us young diplomats making an effort in pursuit of the steps of those who came before us, gives me much gratification. Without putting any undue pressure upon him, let me seize this earliest opportunity of informing him today that I am looking forward to reading a book by him in the near future on “Elements of Style in Diplomacy – The Art of Persuasive Speaking.”
These, Excellencies, are my daily reflections, which I happily share with you. Farewell Excellency Jorge Skinner-Klee Arnales. You’ll be sorely missed by many here in The Hague!
Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee’s qualities were deemed worthy of a second speaker, H.E. Mr. Mario Oyarzabal, Ambassador of Argentina, who took to the floor to praise his departing colleague and friend. Here are his remarks.
“It is a great honor and also a little bit sad to greet goodbye to one of our finest, the Ambassador of the Republic of Guatemala Jorge Skinner-Klée Arenales, who is soon to leave us to be Ambassador to Austria and several other countries as well as the permanent representative to the international organizations in Vienna.
Correct me if I am wrong, Jorge, but Vienna will be your 10th headship of mission in a row, in Latin America and Europe, including both bilateral and multilateral affairs. That speaks loud about Ambassador Skinner’s professionalism and versatility. Also about the trust that successive Guatemala’s governments have bestowed upon him.
You know, after being abroad for some time, we all struggle to keep the perspective of our national interests, and where we come from. Imagine after spending more than 2 decades abroad as is the case with Ambassador Skinner. But Jorge never lost that.
He always understood that despite our differences in the Latin American and Caribbean region, we are better off together. And I think that I speak for all GRULAC colleagues in saying that we will miss his driving and unifying force.
We will miss your wittiness, your empathy and your resolve to be true to yourself in a world where principles are often disposable for the sake of achieving the immediate goal.
On a more personal note, I feel very fortunate for the friendship that you have given me, and that I will cherish.
You taught me a lot, and I enjoy working and spending time with you also an awful lot.
For those of you who may not know Jorge that well, in addition to and perhaps despite being a lawyer, he is well versed in history, literature and religion, besides having a prodigious memory, having myself witnessed his fascinating discussions that revelead his knowledge, but above all, his humanity.
You taught me that you can make work fun without distracting you or wasting time. That you can defend the position of your country without delegitimizing other countries positions.
That you can compromise while remain faithful to your values and what you represent. I wish you, Jorge, all and only the best. And I would like to raise a glass for Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klée Arenales.”
Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher of DM presented the Certificate of Merit and a bouquet of colorful flowers to Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee Arenales.
The ceremony, although serene, concluded with a joyous reception.
Certificate of Merit – Ceremony of Merit- Farewell ceremony