We have interviewed selected persons from the economic and diplomatic community, as well as public life, and found out how embassies, institutions, companies and public figures have organized diplomatic and business activities and themselves during the state of emergency, how they contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 virus, as well as, how they spend their free time and what they will do first when the state of emergency is abolished. Today, we are talking to H. E. RAÚL BARTOLOMÉ, Ambassador of the Kigdom of Spain.
How did you organize your diplomatic activities?
In the organization of our diplomatic and consular activities in times of COVID-19, we have prioritized both our devotion to public service and the health of our employees and citizens coming to the Embassy. All of that, of course, with responsibility and due respect to the recommendations and measures adopted by the competent authorities of the Republic of Serbia.
In these difficult times, when citizens need us the most, it is fundamental to purvey 24/7 attention to them and offer them quick and useful answers to their doubts and problems. In this sense, we are permanently in contact with our stranded citizens in Serbia and with Erasmus students, and we constantly update our website and our social media, informing about new measures or recommendations.
The Spanish Foreign Service has proved once again its efficiency and commitment in dire straits such as this one. So far, it has facilitated the return to Spain of 20.000 Spaniards from all over the world (and counting) and it has created a platform called “Aloja” which enables Spanish residents in third countries to offer accommodation to Spanish tourists in need. Citizens are our reason for being and therefore it is essential they know they can count on us no matter what!
How are you spending your private time during the pandemic?
I must confess, I do not have much free time left at the end of the day, since we are all working really hard these days in the Embassy. But, whenever I have some spare time, I love spending it with my family or reading books and watching movie films, two of my favourite hobbies, which luckily I can enjoy at home.
Social distancing and isolation are hard for people like us, Serbians and Spaniards, but we have to put first things first in this crisis and take this emergency situation really seriously, since one man’s mistakes can cost others’ lives. So, above all, I stay at home! It is a matter of responsibility and solidarity.
What will you do first after the state of emergency is cancelled?
I would say, further discover this beautiful country of yours! I find spring is the most beautiful season of the year, when nature flourishes, weather gets warmer and days are longer. So it is the perfect time to travel around Serbia and enjoy its landscapes, its people, its food and its traditions.
I believe we will overcome this hardship together soon. Serbia has undertaken serious measures to prevent and minimize the spread of the virus, so -with the help of citizens- I hope we manage to hold this epidemic at bay and we can enjoy again the vibrant and dynamic life of Belgrade too.
Of course, at some point too I would like to travel to Spain and visit my beloved ones and friends who are also struggling with this terrible pandemic which has touched (and will continue to do so) the entire world, sadly with no exception.