Unlike local staff, diplomats rarely stay in the same place for more than a couple of years in order to prevent them from becoming part of their host country’s society and loosing their outsider’s view.
This is why the team working at the Permanent Representation of Switzerland to the Council of Europe changes every now and then. At present, Switzerland is represent in Strassburg by the following diplomats:
Ambassador Markus Börlin
At 6’3 (1.90m), the Swiss ambassador stays on top of things – quite literally and by any account – and that is what is needed in his job as Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Council of Europe: As ambassador he not only represents Switzerland officially in this multilateral environment, but he is also responsible for the Permanent Representation and all its staff. Originally a lawyer, he was posted to Ottawa, Nairobi, Stockholm and The Hague during his career. Within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern he headed the unit for crisis management. The dynamic diplomat is married, with two grown daughters, and loves to move around Strassburg on his favourite vehicle: A bicycle.
As Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Council of Europe, Urs Beer is the number two at the Permanent Representation and in the absence of the ambassador in charge of it. Originally a historian, Urs Beer is responsible for all political and cultural matters the Council of Europe deals with as well as for the organisation’s financial affairs and its work programme. So far, his career has brought the diplomat to Cairo, Bern and Ankara, and although his connection to Turkey is a professional one, it also has a personal side: His wife not only has German but also Turkish roots, and their son grows up multilingual.
As far as names go, Can Tutumlu’s is a dead giveaway for his Turkish-Swiss origins. Born and raised in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, he studied mathematics at the prestigious Polytechnical University EPFL in the French speaking part of the country before joining the diplomatic service. At the Permanent Representation he is responsible for all legal matters the Council of Europe deals with and serves as liaison between the European Court of Human Rights and the Swiss Federal Office of Justice. Married to an interpreter, the diplomat is an enthusiastic father to the couple’s two small children.
Photos © Sir Robin