Seasoned diplomat Björn Häggmark is on his debut mission as ambassador for Sweden, which has brought him to Phnom Penh and Cambodia, a country that has been encountering many challenges in recent years, while there are also some promising signs relating to its future.
H.E. Björn Häggmark, the new Swedish ambassador to Cambodia, presented his credential letter in November 2019. Then, into 2020, the arrival of Covid-19 has prevented him and his team to fully proceed with the plans for the year, given the restrictions.
In June, the Swedish Embassy was tasked by its government to implement changes in Sweden’s development cooperation with Cambodia.
he Ambassador, who most recently worked at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has already accomplished a long diplomatic career, stretching back to 1989.
His education included university studies in French and communication. He also took a Master in International Relations at a well-renowned university in Belgium. Following a brief career start in an advertising agency he was accepted to Sweden’s MFA, beginning with its internal training.
”I was early on eager to understand what happens outside Sweden, how this affects my country and how Sweden can cooperate with others. Diplomacy seemed to be a good way to combine useful work with a stimulating work environment,” Björn Häggmark explains his interest in a diplomatic career.
Then it was time to head out into the big world and his first foreign assignment: Bogota, Colombia. “It was great to get the opportunity to go out and try to learn and understand as much as possible about a foreign country on a continent I had never been to previously. It is also a fantastic platform to work in an embassy and be a diplomat and with the interest in Sweden that opens up doors – and to be there for quite a long time; three years. Even if one is not fully-fledged after such a time, and in such a complex country as Colombia, quite a few things one has grasped. It was a fantastic experience!” he remembers.
He then continued to Madrid, where his newly acquired Spanish language skills came in handy. “In Madrid I got more specialised tasks, not least regarding Sweden joining the EU, so it was a good school relating to EU topics. I have continued having such tasks since then too.”
Mr Häggmark has also worked at the MFA headquarters in Stockholm. During Sweden’s EU Presidency in 2001 he was seconded to the EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in Brussels.
“I worked five years in Strasbourg, at our representation to the Council of Europe, an organisation where the European Court of Human Rights is based.”
Björn has also worked at the Swedish mission in Kenya in charge of political affairs and promotion activities. One positive outcome during five years there, he says was when Kenya, supported partly by Sweden, approved a new constitution. It gave better conditions to get rid of some of the problems that had contributed to continued poverty and made it more difficult to stop corruption, and that had cemented ethnic fighting going back a long time ago.
Before coming to the next continent, Asia, he again worked at MFA, appointed head of Property Management Department.
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