OPINION

An unexpected, sad loss for diplomacy

I was in Skopje when I received an SMS message from a friend telling me that Norbert Nadolski had died. The sender was my friend, the Italian education attache in Sofia Ezio Peraro, who had undertaken the difficult task of informing friends and acquaintances of the sudden death in Brazil of the former consul general of Germany in Thessaloniki. Both diplomats had served in Thessaloniki until recently and together they left their mark. They were the Dioscuri of the diplomatic corps. Yes, there is such a thing, even if the city, or rather the people running the city, chose to ignore their substantial contribution. Nadolski and Peraro worked quietly and discreetly to bring the world of letters and culture closer to the people of Thessaloniki, to unite the values of their peoples with those of our own. They experienced Thessaloniki, the city and its people, not through galas, boring cocktail parties and dinners, but through its daily life. They became one with ordinary citizens. You would see them at local cafes and tavernas, at the movie theater and at book launches and European Union conferences. They organized numerous cultural and social events and brought distinguished intellectuals, economists and writers from Germany and Italy to Thessaloniki. Norbert Nadolski was not just a diplomat who loved his job, he was also a passionate ideologist and an eminent intellectual who held the European ideal – for which he had worked so hard throughout his term in Thessaloniki and earlier in Athens – in the highest esteem. Why am I writing all this? Firstly, in memory of this simple, sensitive, discreet man who I had the good fortune to know. And secondly, because diplomats are sometimes badly misunderstood. For many people tend to regard diplomats with some suspicion, believing deep down inside that they are potential enemies of the state, schemers plotting against us, spies moving around in the dark, undermining our country’s interests. It goes without saying that diplomats, first and foremost, serve their country, whichever country that may be, from the USA to Russia or Germany, to Chile or the Ivory Coast. Beyond the socioeconomic interests that may often be conflicting, however, there are other relationships between states; tasks which diplomats are assigned in order to keep existing lines of communication between people open and to create new ones. This is the affable face of diplomacy which Norbert Nadolski represented and this is why anyone who knew him, will never forget him. Goodbye my friend.