November 16 2017
We were privileged to have Jens-Peter Voss, German Consul General, as our speaker on Tuesday 14th November. The audience included local councillors and representatives from the West Lothian Twinning Association. Mr. Voss began by telling us about the work of the Consulate in Edinburgh, which is one of only two in the UK, the other being in London. There are also several honorary consuls in Glasgow, Lerwick, and other towns, who help to look after the interests of the 25,000 German citizens who live in Scotland and the 15,000 who live in the North of England.
A large part of the work of the Consulate is dealing with passport and visa administration, but the team also deals with promoting German interests in trade, industry, education (especially the German language), political delegations, as well as being involved in organisations like the German-speaking Reformist Church in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Festival, and the HALO Trust.
Herr Voss then spoke about the implications of Brexit for organisations such as ours. He pointed out that many twinning organisations (including ours) began before Britain joined the EEC, and that 28% of the current twinning groups are with countries outside the EU. He agreed that the future is uncertain, particularly with regards to funding opportunities, but he felt sure that, whatever happens, we will remain friends and partners.
The members and guests then enjoyed some seasonal German refreshments, including stollen, lebkuchen and baumkuchen. As Mr. Voss was leaving, Councillor Pat Reid presented him with a copy of ‘Scotland’s Shrine: the Scottish National War Memorial’.