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

Media Release

FA29 - 25 February 2004 

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Hungary

I have today announced the appointment of Clare Birgin as Australia's Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. She will replace Leo Cruise, who has been Ambassador since March 2001 and is expected to take up her position in May 2004.

Australia and Hungary enjoy friendly and constructive relations based on growing commercial links and like-minded views on many international issues of common interest. The relationship is enriched by an Australian-Hungarian community of some 60,000.

Australia has a number of investments in Hungary and the country's economic dynamism and accession to the EU on 1 May 2004 will continue to be an inducement to Australian investors and joint venture partners in such sectors as hotel development, insurance, education and automotive components. Prospects are also good for increasing Australian exports to Hungary in the medium term. This includes the high technology and automotive sectors, where Australian firms are already enjoying success and also the energy and resource sectors.

Ms Birgin is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and most recently held the position of Director, Middle East Section. In a career spanning 20 years in the foreign service, Ms Birgin has focused on trade and political relations with the countries of Eastern Europe, the United States and the Middle East and on multilateral trade issues.

Overseas, Ms Birgin has served in Warsaw (1984-1987), Moscow (1990-1992), Geneva (1992-1996) and Washington (1998-2001).

Ms Birgin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours and a Masters degree in International Law from the Australian National University.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny +61 02 6277 7500 - Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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