A Farewell Message from Ambassador Johann Brieger

Dear fellow Austrians! Dear compatriots!

Four and a half years have passed since I started working as Austrian Ambassador in South Africa on February 15, 2018, joined by my dear wife Roswitha. Despite a COVID pandemic, which is demanding a lot from everyone and has brought with it restrictions unprecedented in our generation, or the secondary effects of the war in Europe, the strength and irrepressible joie de vivre of the wonderful people in Africa seem unbroken.

Southern Africa is a beautiful region that has a lot to offer! But it is also a tough environment and as someone so aptly said recently – not for the faint-hearted! Numerous impressive moments with the farmers in Sofala, Mozambique, the cultural points of contact with the children in Soweto or in Khayelitsha or the Animal Sanctuary on the outskirts of Harare, to name just a few, touched us deeply and will always accompany us. The endless expanses of the Karoo or the desert in Namibia with their starry nights are unique and exude their own magic. But who am I telling this to, you all know that feeling when you spend time in the African bush, you clear your head and you practically become one with nature.

Despite the difficult environment, we were also able to take a number of important steps bilaterally and noticeably deepen relations. The economy has picked up speed – the trade exchange between Austria and South Africa has already exceeded the pre-pandemic level in 2021 and set a new record. Numerous projects have been intensively prepared, which will lead to further visible results in the coming months.

A special concern for us was always the close contact with our Austrians. Many of you, whom we were able to meet personally, have built their lives here in southern Africa and found their second home! I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on this. I’m also happy that we were able to spend wonderful moments with the members of the Austrian clubs, be it for St. Nicholas, the Easter egg hunt or the Almabtrieb. There were also very successful events with the strong representatives of the Austrian economy, both bilaterally and as part of the ABC evenings, which we will remember. My special thanks go to those who keep opening their hearts and wallets and, through the club or privately, give a helping hand to those who need it the most.

Numerous friendships developed from these encounters, which my wife and I are happy to take with us and which we will always remember. I am very proud of you, dear compatriots, who make an important contribution to shaping their adopted country and represent an important bridge to Austria.

My special thanks also go to our excellent honorary consuls in all ten countries in my area of responsibility, who are always available with incredibly personal and financial effort as the first point of contact in an emergency or who provide valuable support for the economy or in the realization of cultural projects. You all make a significant contribution to Austria’s good image in the region.

Thanks also to my great team in Pretoria, without whom it would not have been possible to master the challenges of the last few years so well. I have always felt that the embassy is a service point and I hope that we were able to meet these requirements.

Finally, I would like to thank you for the trust you have placed in me and I wish you and your families good luck, health, success and a wonderful time in southern Africa!


Johann Brieger


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