A different type of diplomacy

Monica Thowsen beside one of Belgrade’s many murals

We talked to Monika Thowsen, after four months of her work at the Norwegian embassy in Belgrade, where she served as the political counsellor of the Embassy.

What is specific to this diplomat is that she has worked in seven different countries over the last three years. Monika is one of a number of diplomats at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who go for short missions to embassies that require short-term "reinforcements". These diplomats have a special talent to adapt quickly to new countries, cultures, and political contexts. In the last three years Monika has worked in Nepal, Morocco, South Sudan, China, Myanmar, South Africa, and finally in Serbia.

Belgrade is her last mission of this kind, since she will return to the Ministry in Oslo next week to work in the Section for Humanitarian Affairs.

"In Belgrade, I have specifically addressed the issues of EU integration, and I was able to follow the process of negotiation of a candidate country with the EU ‘live’. These were four intensive months of work on EU integration issues, and on support to Serbia through project activities."

What is particularly interesting to note is that Monika spent leisure time in Belgrade on city walks in combination with the creation of a large number of drawings. Namely, Monika records by drawings what is most interesting to her in a city.

"During my stay in various risky countries, I could not make photos, because it was often banned or unsafe. That is why I returned to drawing as a way to permanently record what fascinated me in other cultures. Although Belgrade is a city in which I could move and photograph freely, and in which I felt really safe, I continued to draw. In this beautiful city, I discovered markets, people, street artists, incredible architecture. What I know for sure is that I will be glad to return to Belgrade, with friends, to whom I will recommend going to Kalenic Market, Kalemegdan and your really incredible restaurants. And although the nature of my business is such that I cannot return to all countries in which I worked, I'm sure to return to Belgrade."