MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA 102

20 September 1999

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador To Croatia

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Neil Francis as Australia's first resident Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia. Mr Francis will replace Mr Lance Joseph, who has had non-resident accreditation since February 1997.

Mr Francis is expected to take up his appointment in October 1999.

The opening of Australia's first Embassy in Zagreb marks a further consolidation of relations between Australia and Croatia. The relationship was placed on a firm footing following Australia's early recognition of Croatia's independence on 16 January 1992. Diplomatic relations were established on 13 February 1992 and the first Australian Ambassador to Croatia (resident in Vienna) presented his credentials in March 1992. On 21 September 1992, an Australian Consulate was opened in Zagreb, headed by an Honorary Consul, Dr Goroslav Keller.

The Croatian community in Australia is the largest national group from the former Yugoslavia. Estimates of the size of the community range from 150,000 to 250,000, including second and third generation members. There are also several thousand Australians and dual nationals resident in Croatia. These communities provide a sound base for enhancing the people to people ties between Australia and Croatia.

Mr Francis, an experienced career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, first joined the Department in 1967. His overseas assignments have included Singapore (1968-70), Bangkok (1972-74), Cairo (1974-76), Dhaka (1977-79), Vienna (1979-81), Addis Ababa (1984-86), Moscow (1987-89) and New York (1992-96). Mr Francis worked in the United States with the Bechtel Corporation from 1981 to 1984. From 1997 to 1998 he served as Director of the United Nations and Commonwealth Section and acted as Assistant Secretary, International Organisations Branch, for the latter half of 1998. He is a member of the United Nations Committee on Contributions.

Mr Francis was born in 1944 and has a Graduate Diploma in Foreign Affairs and Trade from the Australian National University and a Masters degree from Monash University. He is married.


Media Enquiries: Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Tony Melville 02 6261 1555

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