Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Greece

13 October 1995

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, today announced the appointment of Dr Robert Merrillees as Australian Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, with non-resident accreditation to the Republic of Bulgaria. Dr Merrillees will replace Mr Alan Edwards, who has been Ambassador since 1991.

Australia and Greece enjoy a warm relationship, underscored by the large numbers of Greeks who have chosen to make their home in Australia. These strong community ties and the special fondness with which Australians are remembered for their efforts in defending Greece in World War II provide a very strong foundation on which to build a more diverse and significant commercial relationship. The two countries are also seeking to expand cooperation into new areas. Most recently, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on closer bilateral navy cooperation, particularly in the area of training.

Dr Merrillees is a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1964 and has served in London (twice), Phnom Penh, New York (United Nations) and Beirut. From 1983 to 1987 Dr Merrillees was Ambassador to Israel, and from 1987 to 1989 he was Assistant Secretary of Staffing and Development Programs Branch. From 1989 to 1991 Dr Merrillees was Assistant Secretary of International Organisations Branch, and during 1991 he was Permanent Delegate to UNESCO in Paris.

Dr Merrillees is currently Ambassador to Sweden, with non-resident accreditation to Finland and Estonia. He is a Fellow of of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

He is expected to take up his appointment in January 1996.