IN Diplomacy Newsletter Issue 16 06 January 2017
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"The beginning of a new year always brings renewed expectations and hopes of a brighter future. New Year is all about welcoming new things in our lives. This is always the optimistic time to make a fresh start. As the Dean of our diplomatic community here in Singapore, I invite all to come together, to work as a family of nations with common aspirations for peace and a better world. As representatives of our countries, we have important responsibilities; we are here to seek new opportunities, to enhance the links among all of us, and also between our countries
and Singapore. In doing so, we can converge in common endeavours that contribute to greater achievements. I wish each one the needed courage, determination and confidence to turn obstacles and limitations into new opportunities during this New Year. Although we live in difficult times, there is always hope. As diplomats with positive goals in mind, we can aspire to give the best of us towards a more prosperous, bright, delightful and energetic new year. This is the time to unfold new pages and begin a vibrant new chapter in 2017. Happy New Year to all." - His Excellency Jairo Hernandez, Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica to Singapore and Dean of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps Singapore

New Ambassadors
HE Nasrullah Khan, High Commissioner of Pakistan 
Based in Singapore since January 2016, His Excellency Nasrullah Khan looks forward to building a more robust trade and investment relationship with Singapore and highlighting Pakistan’s cultural and touristic potential. 

Please share with our readers something about your previous postings and your first impressions about Singapore.
My last posting before Singapore was Brazil and before that I have served in different missions in Europe and also in Iran. Singapore was like a homecoming for me. The island, geographically and politically, is very close to Pakistan. We share some common things, such as being part of the Commonwealth, the English language and similar legal system. Besides, it’s easier and quicker to return home as compared to Brazil, that’s why I feel so at home here.

It is a very comfortable and developed place. You have so many think-tanks and established institutions in Singapore. I feel, I have attended more seminars, conferences and exhibitions here in the past one year than during the last four years. I think the potential for capacity-building for a person working here, personally and professionally, is very great here.

When did Pakistan establish diplomatic ties with Singapore?
We established ties in 1966 and we celebrated 50 years of diplomatic ties last year. One of the ways we did this was the issuance of joint postage stamps by Singaporean and Pakistani

postal authorities; these were commemorative stamps of our national flowers: Jasmine for Pakistan and Vanda Miss Joaquim for Singapore.

There are some other events in the pipeline for this year as well including an art exhibition as well as a visit by a musical and cultural troupe from Pakistan. We hope to hold an exhibition on Buddhist artifacts as Pakistan is rich in Buddhist heritage. The ancient Gandhara Kingdom was a Buddhist civilisation and Pakistan was the heartland of that civilisation, so we want to bring some artifacts to be displayed at the National Museum of Singapore. The celebration of the diplomatic ties between the two nations is a year-long event, and the festivities will culminate in August 2017.

Could you comment on trade between Pakistan and Singapore as well as your views on potential investment opportunities? 
In the context of our trade with Singapore, it is about US$1.8 billion. Presently, there is still great scope for growth of investments for Singaporean companies in Pakistan. The economy of Pakistan has been growing steadily during the last several years, with a more than four per cent annual growth rate. Morgan Stanley and different institutions have categorised Pakistan’s economy as a fully market economy.

Therefore, we would like Singapore to explore investment opportunities in Pakistan. I think there is a very conducive environment for foreign direct investments in Pakistan We plan to hold seminars and conferences here in the coming months to network with Singaporean companies and invite them to visit Pakistan to see for themselves in which areas they can make investments. 

Can you give us an overview of Pakistan’s relations with other countries in Asia and how Pakistan will engage with them in the coming years?
Pakistan as an Asian country has strong historical relations with the countries in Asia, chief among which is China. China is an all-weather friend of Pakistan and currently invests heavily in Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. The agreement between the two nations was signed in 2013 and we have a strategic relationship with investments in the development of infrastructure and energy sectors. This is a major initiative for generating great economic activity and regional connectivity.

We have a policy of ‘Vision East Asia’ to enhance relations with ASEAN and East Asian countries. Pakistan is also a dialogue partner of ASEAN in eight sectors such as economy, culture and terrorism etc. We also have extensive multifaceted relations including trade relations with Indonesia and Malaysia, importing a lot of palm oil from them.

Who are Pakistan’s major trade and investment partners outside of Asia?

Major trading partners and investors from outside Asia are from the EU nations such as UK, Germany, Italy and Belgium. Russia is another country with which relationship is on the upward trajectory. It had also established a steel producing facility at Karachi. Pakistan also has multifaceted relations with the Gulf and Middle Eastern countries as well as the Central Asian Republics.

India in 2012 gave a ‘Most Favourable Nation’ (MFN) status to Pakistan and it has also removed restrictive investments from Pakistan. Please elaborate how this development can bring the India-Pakistan relations forward.
Pakistan always wants normal relations with India. Our leadership is keen to promote good neighbourly relations with all our neighbours including India. So once the situation improves, there is huge potential in both trade and commercial activities.  

How closely are you working with your peers in the Diplomatic Corps here in Singapore?
The Diplomatic Corps here is very well-knit. We meet on national days and receptions and other occasions as well. The think-tank community here is very active and invites ambassadors also to attend. Therefore, one can get to meet members of the Diplomatic Corps at these sessions as well. The Diplomatic Corps is very well informed. There’s also a WhatsApp group established by Ambassador Jairo Hernandez of Costa Rica, the dean for the Diplomatic Corps in Singapore. So we are in touch with one another and also what’s happening around us.

How do you spend your free time?
I like to walk around the city. It’s like a big garden. Incidentally, I also stay close to the beautiful Botanic Gardens, which is very conveniently located near Orchard Road and central to many parts of the city. My residence like many others here is close to everything – malls, cinema halls, restaurants, among other amenities  

I also enjoy browsing in some of the bookshops here and am a member of a couple of gyms here. My wife and daughter live here with me while my son studies in Hong Kong (my daughter studies at a management university here). We go sightseeing whenever we are together as one family. We especially enjoy travelling on the open air bus tours of the city.

This is a condensed version of the interview. For the full feature, click here.

Happy Hanukkah
Rabbi Abergel Mordecai (left) lights up the nine-branched menorah (candelabrum) at the Hanukkah celebrations while Professor Dan J Sherman looks on.
The Israeli embassy in Singapore celebrated the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on 22 December 2016 at Marina Bay Sands Singapore. This special day commemorated the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

And there was certainly plenty of light when Rabbi Abergel Mordecai lit up the nine-branched menorah (a candle holder with nine arms called the candelabrum) much to the delight of the embassy staff and guests in attendance. They later snacked on the traditional Jewish pastry sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).
About 150 people took part in the Hanukkah festivities, among them were Israeli ambassador to Singapore, Her Excellency Yael Rubinstein (pictured left), and her husband, Professor Dan J Sherman as well as the Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica to Singapore and Dean of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps Singapore, Jairo Hernandez, Ambassador of Turkey (HE Murat Lutem), Ambassador of Austria (HE Karin Fichtinger-Grohe), Ambassador of Spain (HE Miguel Angel Navarro Portera), Ambassador of Chile (HE James Sinclair Manley), Ambassador of Peru (HE Manuel Talavera Espinar) and Non-Resident Ambassador of Singapore to Jordan (HE Shamsher Zaman).
Appointment of Singapore's Honorary Consul-General in Istanbul, Turkey
Murat Özyeğin (Photo credit:
The Government of the Republic of Singapore, with the agreement of the Government of Turkey, has appointed Mr Murat Özyeğin as Singapore’s Honorary Consul-General in Istanbul, Turkey, with jurisdiction over Istanbul and Izmir. The Honorary Consul-General will support the work of the Singapore Embassy in Ankara, headed by Ambassador A Selverajah.
This appointment will further enhance Singapore’s bilateral ties with Turkey which have been strengthened in recent years by the signing of the Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership in October 2014 and the Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA) in November 2015.

Mr Özyeğin, 40, is the Head of Strategic Planning and Business Development of Fiba Group, Executive Board Member of FINA and FIBA Holding and Chairman of all of Fiba Group's non-banking businesses. Through his appointment as Honorary Consul-General, Mr Özyeğin will perform representational duties and notarial functions as well as extend consular assistance to Singaporeans.    
CALENDAR - National Days
Click on country name to visit the mission locator in Singapore provided by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

1 Cuba Liberation Day
1 Sudan Independence Day
4 Myanmar Independence Day
26 Australia Australia Day
26 India Republic Day
From the Embassies....
Click on the cover to read or download the issue
Opportunity Russia 2016
Saudi Arabia Your Gateway to the Middle East 2016
Opportunity Indonesia 2016
Uzbekistan Jewel of the Silk Road 2016
Opportunity Malaysia 2016
It's Time for Brazil in Singapore 2016
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