Sunday, February 11, 2007

Florida man with no Austrian ties becomes country’s honorary consul

Toby Unwin was an unlikely choice as Austria’s newest honorary consul.

He has never been to Austria, has no Austrian heritage, and doesn’t speak German, the country’s official language. But he is a successful businessman with a clean background, and he did ask nicely.

The 33-year-old, originally from England, once read that people could become amateur diplomats by writing foreign officials and inquiring. After he made several attempts, Austria took him up on his offer.

Toby Unwin

The job doesn’t pay, but Unwin does get the authority to issue emergency visas, the title of honorary consul, Republic of Austria, and a license plate that can get him out of tickets.

To start the office in late October, Unwin received a map of Austria, stamps for official documents, a CD and sheet music of the national and European anthems, and three flags. He has been studying German and plans to visit Austria this summer.

Unwin has already helped one Austrian arrested for allegedly keeping a rental car too long.

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