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An honour for SRA chairman

Chairman of the Stellenbosch Ratepayers Association, André Pelser, last week received an honorary decoration from the Hungarian government.

The ceremony, at Longridge wine estate, was attended by Hungarian ambassador András Kiraly and his wife, consul Orsolya Bernat, Mayor Gesie van Deventer, Wilhelmina Petersen, Speaker of the Stellenbosch Town Council, and councillors Ester Groenewald, Jan de Villiers and Derick Hendrickse.

Pelser had been Honorary Consul of Hungary since 2001, working with various ambassadors.

The Knights Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit was awarded to Pelser, in recognition of his efforts to strengthen Hungary-South Africa relations and work related to efficient handling of Hungarian citizens’ consular cases.

In his acceptance speech, Pelser said the Hungarian embassy, with its small staff and limited resources, has more than pulled its weight well in the international relations arena.

“It is an honour to receive such an award from the Hungarian government,” he said. “It has been a delight to work with you these past few years, in which both of you have been representing Hungary in South Africa and the region.

“When I was approached to represent Hungary in the Cape, it was the culmination of a process which started in Istanbul, Turkey, in the early ’90s, when I was South African Consul-General in Istanbul. Soon after my arrival there I started a wine club, which met monthly to taste wines from the interested consuls-general countries of origin. We had interesting people there, even the Pakistani CG, who told me he would be flogged in public in Pakistan if his attendance of our functions were reported to his government. It was the most popular gathering in Istanbul, with 17 consuls-general attending monthly, including the Israeli and Egyptian consuls-general.”

Pelser also served as Vice-Consul in New Orleans, First Secretary/Counsellor in the SA embassy in London, head of the Administrator-General’s office in Windhoek, Namibia, Deputy Head of Mission in the SA embassy in Canberra, Australia and, finally, Consul-General in Istanbul.

“I look forward to being of further service to Hungary, and of course Stellenbosch and the Cape in future,” he said. “We live in tumultuous times, but with strong principles and values, the future holds no fear, only promise.”

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