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German in priority list of languages for trainee diplomats

GERMAN HAS been officially recognised as one of six languages which young Portuguese diplomats will be encouraged to learn.

In recognition of the importance German plays in diplomacy and trade in the European Union, a series of language protocols were signed last week at the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Goethe Institute and the Diplomatic Institute. It means that German will stand alongside Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish as the main diplomatic languages – courses of which will be offered to trainee diplomats.

In his speech, in the presence of the German First Secretary to the Ambassador Mathias Fischer, Professor Armando Marques said it was time German was placed high on the diplomatic priority list of languages.

The Goethe Institute, which aims to disseminate German language, culture and understanding, has been in Portugal for 40 years (in Lisbon and Porto). In total, it has a network of 128 institutes in 72 countries.

The Goethe Institute’s most important areas of work in Portugal, apart from German courses and the training of German teachers, are their links with providing study scholarships, information exchange from libraries and the development of cultural programmes in order to transmit a modern and innovative image of Germany today.

“Portugal has for us a fundamental importance and we want to cultivate our long friendship between the two countries, which is now strengthened with the signing of this protocol,” said Ronald Gratz, director of the Goethe Institute. “As has been the case for many European countries, English has been the only obligatory language. But we at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs think that in a multicultural world there are other languages worth studying. We have identified some which are of value that student diplomat candidates should learn; they are German, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese.

“German is an international language, valuable in many posts like English and Portuguese, and while it will not be obligatory, it will become one of several languages diplomats will have to choose from,” concluded Dr. Marques.