Budapest, January 24, 2020

Dear Friends

The time has come to return to provide services in my beloved Buenos Aires, having enjoyed the honour of representing my country for three and a half years as Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Hungary, the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which constitutes a new and unforgettable milestone of a professional career with 36 years of experience.

I leave with a great feeling of satisfaction and pride for the magnificent performance that, thanks to the extraordinary collaboration of my wife and my team at the Embassy, we have reached at this time, full of achievements that I will try to summarise.

First, after four years without the presence of an Ambassador in charge of the Representation, we returned to the Embassy its full hierarchy. Also, thanks to our initiative, we managed to move the Residence of the Embassy from a remote corner in the forests of Buda to the Andrássy Avenue, one of the most emblematic places of the city of Pest, the heart of the capital, providing the headquarters with an undeniable representativeness and visibility, with the Argentine shield and flag flying in view of the many passers-by.

At the same time that we substantially reduced the expenses of the Embassy (which reported us express congratulations of the Argentine Foreign Minister himself), we managed to significantly expand its performance, demonstrating that imagination and effort overcome any obstacle.

The internal efficiency of the Embassy was remarkably enhanced, thanks to the systematisation of work, the reallocation of tasks, the creation of new files, the promotion of responsibility and creativity, etc.

Through the implementation of the concept "combined promotion" coined by us, we managed to specify countless events in which the various proposals (commercial, tourism, cultural, sports, etc.) were enhanced among each other, providing a more elaborate and original image of Argentina and our work as diplomats.

In the economic-commercial field, we have the great pride of having contributed decisively to the opening in the EU of a market of several hundred million dollars for Argentina. On the other hand, thanks to the invaluable collaboration of enthusiastic sponsoring entrepreneurs ("Empanada Story", "Matusz Vad", etc.), we carried out numerous commercial promotion events of huge projection, such as "Malbec Day", "Argentine Day", "Argentine Night", among many others.

My long experience in technological diplomacy, coupled with the relevant Argentine offer in this area and the attractive demand in these countries, allowed us to develop promising advances in areas such as space, nuclear, renewable energy, etc. In addition, my numerous personal links with important local businesses and entrepreneurs contributed to promoting business between these countries.

Politically, the dialogue with the authorities of the three countries was always unbeatable, facilitating mutual collaboration on innumerable bilateral and multilateral issues (especially in terms of candidacies for international organisations). We collaborated in the historic visit to Argentina, in 2018, of the President of Croatia, Mme. Kolinda Grabar- Kitarovic, and in other meetings between high authorities.

The signing of a cooperation agreement between the cities of Buenos Aires and Budapest deserves a separate paragraph at this point, an initiative of this Embassy that had unsurpassed support and involvement from the Mayor of Budapest and all its collaborators. Progress has also been made in the negotiation of several bilateral agreements with the three countries, including the creation of Parliamentary Friendship Groups with their Parliaments.

Despite the increasing restrictions on resources for this purpose, general relations with the concurrent countries (Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) were met with an unprecedented strength, personally completing even up to 11 visits to Croatia in 2018.

Culturally, the links and achievements are of such importance that I can hardly mention some milestones: between the various academic agreements proposed by this Embassy, the one between the UBA and the University of Zagreb and the advanced agreements with the universities of Budapest and of Sarajevo, as well as the next creations of Study Centers in each of these universities; the numerous conferences that I offered in various cultural and academic institutions; the agreement concluded with Croatia for the promotion of mutual cultural projects; the promotion of the exchange of young scholars; the creation of a Calendar of Argentine activities in the three countries called "The Storks" destined for more than 1000 recipients for two years; the creation of a music cycle at the Embassy’s Residence consisting of almost 50 concerts performed in just two years, covering all genres (from Baroque to Chamamé) and artists (from world stars such as José Cura, Franco Fagioli, Péter Eötvös and Tamás Vasary, even young promises), frequented by egregious personalities (such as the legendary Ágnes Heller, among others) but open to anyone who wishes to participate and considered a cultural hall of excellence (even the Hungarian Secretary of Culture offered his support); the installation in Budapest of a 4-metres-high monument made by an Argentine sculptor and dedicated to the memory of the Argentine-Hungarian Cnel. Juan Czetz; the creation by this Embassy of the "Biro" and "Vucetich" Awards aimed at distinguishing personalities (they were granted to a President, a Chancellor and a Head of Government, among others) who have contributed substantially to the relationship with Hungary and Croatia, respectively, and the "Ginastera Prize", to distinguish young musicians and honour the memory of the great composer; the successful accomplishment of a historical tour of the great musician Gustavo Santaolalla, of high cultural content – debuting with a philharmonic orchestra –, combined with promotion of meats and wines and of vast media diffusion; the personalised attention and promotion of countless Argentine and local artists and organisers that contribute to cultural dialogue; etc., etc.

Perhaps the most significant aspects of these cultural actions have been their openness to very diverse sectors of local societies and the resident Argentine community, and their willingness to cultivate the traditional and rich cultural relations and affinities between Argentina and these countries.

A proof of the intensity of this cultural work is the abundant amount of donations of important works of art, which the Embassy under my charge received from artists and authorities, in gratitude and recognition for the tasks performed.

Regarding tourism, in addition to the numerous "combined promotion" events that included tourism aspects, several promotion actions specialised in the tourism in Argentina were carried out. Progress was also made in the next signing of a Tourism Agreement with Croatia that will result in significant progress in that area.

At the consular level, the Embassy significantly improved its numerous services to Argentine and local applicants (a regular annual Consular Day in Zagreb was established for the first time since 2017; another was also made in Montenegro), narrowed and customised significantly contacts with the Argentine communities in the three countries (I convened and met regularly, individually and collectively with all its members), the tradition of having a broader agenda of parties and national meetings with the Argentines was installed (May 25, July 9, Sovereignty Day, Flag Day, Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, etc.), and relations with the relevant authorities were consolidated. In particular, the signing of a Working Holiday Programme Agreement with Hungary has opened a new chapter in the exchange of young people between one country and another.

The Embassy managed to take advantage of the happy coincidence between the flourishing local organisational capacity of sporting events of an excellent international magnitude (Davis Cup, FINA, Taekwondo, Kempo, Maccabi Games, fencing, etc.) and the presence in almost all disciplines of large delegations of Argentine athletes.

Particularly careful was the constant and effective performance of the Embassy in the promotion of the Argentine polo in Hungary, together with the invaluable help of its local fans, achieving a virtuous association between the commercial, tourist and social derivations of said sport and the image of the country.

Through an outstanding and constant presence in all types of mass media (graphics, television and radio), it was achieved that Argentina and the activities of the Embassy obtained a significant dissemination. Also, during this period, the number of Facebook and mailing followers of this Representation doubled, promoting a fluid interconnection between the Embassy's agenda and local friends in the country, additionally fulfilling the duty to inform about official acts and to provide transparency to the use of public resources.

A distinctive aspect of my work at the head of the Embassy was the emphasis placed on a "public diplomacy" in its broadest sense, that is, making the Residence a regular meeting place for conspicuous personalities of Hungary (high authorities, outstanding intellectuals, leading businessmen, etc.) unparalleled in Budapest, and events of great visibility on public roads and great media impact (closing the street in front of the Residence to inaugurate with a milonga the "Vereda del tango"; doing horses and polo riders parade; raising a 6-metre-high steel horse for a joint celebration with the Hungarian Circus; parading and entering a delegation composed of 50 Argentine motorcyclists; illuminating the front of the headquarters with the national colours; etc.), and also, an open door site for all Argentines, who were received in huge tourist offices just by request, even to every Argentine tourist who rang the bell.

In that sense, we developed a constant action to clarify the businessmen, athletes, artists, tourists and other compatriots that the nature, means and ends of this Embassy are due to the Argentine contributor.

Coinciding with that determined exercise of "public diplomacy," an indefatigable and priority work was undertaken to expand and deepen the links not only of this Embassy, but also of the rest of the foreign diplomatic community, with the authorities and civil society of these three countries, aimed at avoiding the traditional bubbles of diplomatic life, to immerse themselves in the reality of the host countries, based on the conviction that the most lasting and effective diplomacy is one that seeks to promote ties in parallel, both ways, because every achievement both back and forth contributes to the strengthening of the relationship as a whole.

Following that same philosophy together with my wife, Cecilia Scalisi de Gregorio Cernadas, we assumed the task of integrating ourselves to these countries as a personal challenge, that we overcame, which opened up a fascinating world of knowledge and friends in the most conspicuous circles of these countries, to whom we are infinitely grateful for their guidance and friendship.

Consistently, and from her role as a member of the Board of the influential Association of Spouses of Chiefs of Mission (DSB: Diplomatic Spouses of Budapest) – which has very active sponsorship no less than the wives of the President, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of Hungary –, in charge of cultural activities (numerous and relevant activities under her initiative and realisation) and also collaborating in her charitable projects, my wife performed a colossal task of integrating the foreign Diplomatic Corps into the Hungarian society, something that was highly appreciated by the Hungarian authorities, specifying a magnificent example of "Soft Diplomacy", of transcendent help for my tasks and the Argentine Embassy as a whole. Even using her vast experience in this area, she took charge of launching among her colleagues in Zagreb and Sarajevo, the initiative to create associations equivalent to DSB, attentive to its absence in these capitals.

In this same direction of opening towards original horizons, I dedicated a particular effort to cultivate the contact of the Embassy with immigrants and descendants of immigrants from these countries in Argentina, and even to rescue and foster their relations with the countries of origin, in the certainty that these "storks" (as I baptised them using the beautiful metaphor of the Hungarian poet Mihály Tompa), who come and go constantly between both "nests" – mostly conspicuous personalities in our country – contribute or can contribute decisively to the promotion of bilateral relations.

Strictly speaking, I consider myself now abandoning my "Central European nest" to return to my "Argentine nest", so I have also become one more "stork" among the others.

In sum and finally: I move away only physically from my beloved Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, because I have been inextricably bound to them and their destiny, and therefore, dear friends, you can consider me without hesitation, at your disposal to collaborate in the future in everything that contributes to the development of the numerous links between our countries.

Yours faithfully
Ambassador of the Argentine Republic

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