The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA99 - 6 August 2003

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador To Croatia

I am today announcing the appointment of Anna George as Australia’s second resident Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia.  Ms George will replace Neil Francis and is expected to take up her appointment in October 2003.

Australia and Croatia’s relationship is based on strong community ties and a significant two-way flow of visitors.  The 2001 census showed there were 90,000 Croatian-born and second-generation Croatians in Australia, making Croatians the largest national group from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Broader family groupings increase the size of the community to almost 250,000.  The signing of a bilateral social security agreement by both Governments in May 2003 will significantly enhance social security protection to people who have lived and/or worked in both countries.

While our commercial relationship is relatively small, there is considerable scope for growth in trade and investment as the Croatian economy recovers from the difficult early years of independence.  This growth will be boosted by improvements to the business environment as Croatia continues its economic reforms and towards its goal of entry to the European Union. 

Ms George is a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  In her most recent position as Director, Information Industries and Online Access, in the Trade Development Division, she was also Lead Negotiator for electronic commerce issues in Free Trade Agreement negotiations.  Previous positions include Director, WTO Intellectual Property, and Director, Budget Policy.

Overseas, Ms George has served as Alternate Representative at the Australian Permanent Mission to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague (1995-98); Third, Second and later First Secretary at Australia’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna (1989-92); and was a member of the Australian Delegation to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York (1991-92).

Born in the United Kingdom, Ms George holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from Murdoch University.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial)  (02) 6277 7500 -  Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555