Minister for Foreign Affairs

Alexander Downer


16 December 1997


I have today announced the appointment of Mr Ross Burns as Australian Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, with non-resident accreditation to the Republic of Bulgaria.

Mr Burns will replace Dr Robert Merrillees, who has been Ambassador since February 1996.

The Government attaches considerable importance to the relationship with Greece. The two countries have long enjoyed a warm and friendly relationship, built upon historical ties, especially the links forged during the World War II Greek campaign of 1941 and the Battle of Crete, and the presence in Australia of a substantial Greek ethnic community. The community has played a significant role in the development of the economic, cultural and political life of this country and provides a foundation for the continuing development of relations between Australia and Greece.

Mr Burns is a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1966 and served in Lagos, Islamabad, Dhaka, Port Moresby, Cairo, London and Bangkok. From 1984 to 1987, Mr Burns was Ambassador to Syria and Lebanon and from 1988 to 1991, Assistant Secretary of South Asia, Africa and Middle East Branch. From 1991 to 1992 he served as Minister in Paris and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. Mr Burns was the Australian Ambassador (later High Commissioner) to South Africa for the period 1992 to 1995. Mr Burns became Assistant Secretary of Parliamentary and Media Branch at the end of 1995 and since February this year has been the Assistant Secretary of EU and European Institutions Branch.

Mr Burns holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Sydney.

He is expected to take up his appointment in February 1998.