Thorhilda Abbott-Watt

Last updated

Thorhilda Abbott-Watt
United Kingdom Ambassador to Turkmenistan
Assumed office
December 2016
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded bySanjay Wadvani
Personal details
Born (1955-02-11) 11 February 1955 (age 64)
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Nationality British

Thorhilda Mary Vivia "Thorda" Abbott-Watt OBE (born 11 February 1955) is a British diplomat who currently serves as Ambassador to Turkmenistan.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.


Early life and education

Abbott-Watt was born in London on 11 February 1955. [1] Her father was a soldier and diplomat; and her mother was a premiere danseuse with the Ballet Russe. [2] She was educated at Stonar School, Wiltshire. [3]

Stonar School Other independent school in Wiltshire, England

Stonar School, founded in 1895, is a non-denominational UK independent day and boarding school, at Cottles Park, near Atworth, Wiltshire, south-west England. The school occupies 80 acres of parkland and gardens in a location about 8 miles from Bath.


Abbott-Watt joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1974 and has worked both in London and in a number of countries in South America, the Far East and Western and Eastern Europe. In 1989 she served in the team negotiating the renunciation of Four Power Rights in Germany. From 2001 to 2002 she was Chargée d'Affaires, opening the first British Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. [2] [4]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), commonly called the Foreign Office, or British Foreign Office, is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide and was created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.

Abbott-Watt was Ambassador to Armenia from 2003 to 2005. In 2004, questions were raised about her competency in a letter to Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary Jack Straw by scholar Tessa Hofmann and the International Group on Genocide Recognition and Prevention, after she made a statement at a press conference on 20 January 2004 questioning the use of the term genocide for the Armenian Genocide. Abbott-Watt said, "Great Britain accepts that the events of 1915 were mass killings [of the Armenian population] – the responsible for which are the Turks. I see no problem calling it brutality. It shouldn’t have taken place even in the course of war. But I do not think that recognizing the events as genocide would be of much use." [5] [6]

Jack Straw British Labour politician

John Whitaker Straw is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Blackburn from 1979 to 2015. Straw served in the Cabinet from 1997 to 2010 under the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He held two of the traditional Great Offices of State, as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001 and Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006 under Blair. From 2007 to 2010 he served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and the Secretary of State for Justice throughout the Brown ministry. Straw is one of only three individuals to have served in Cabinet continuously during the Labour governments from 1997 to 2010, the others being Brown and Alistair Darling.

Tessa Hofmann (Savvidis) is a scholar of Armenian studies and sociology, PhD, research scholar at the Free University of Berlin.

Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people in whole or in part. The hybrid word "genocide" is a combination of the Greek word γένος and the Latin suffix -caedo. The term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin in his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.

In 2006 Miss Abbott-Watt worked briefly as Head of Political and Military Section in Kabul, then undertook an attachment to UK Trade and Industry as Head of Strategy and Innovation. Abbott-Watt served as Ambassador to Mongolia from 2008 to 2009 and from 2010 to 2012. On 9 May 2016, she was appointed Ambassador to Turkmenistan. [7]

Turkmenistan Country in Central Asia

Turkmenistan, officially the Republic of Turkmenistan, is a country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Ashgabat is the capital and largest city. The population of the country is 5.6 million, the lowest of the Central Asian republics and one of the most sparsely populated in Asia.

She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours. [8]

The 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours are appointments by some of the 16 Commonwealth realms of Queen Elizabeth II to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries. The Birthday Honours are awarded as part of the Queen's Official Birthday celebrations during the month of June. The Queen's Birthday Honours for the United Kingdom were announced on 16 June; the honours for New Zealand were announced on 5 June and for Australia on 12 June.

Personal life

Abbott-Watt is married to Reef Talbot Hogg. [4]

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  1. "Great Britain Appoints New Ambassador to Armenia". Asbarez. 15 January 2003. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  2. 1 2 Baghdasaryan, Edik (20 February 2004). "Nation shall speak peace unto nation: An interview with THORDA ABBOTT-WATT, UK Ambassador to Armenia". HETQ. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  3. ‘ABBOTT-WATT, Thorhilda Mary Vivia, (Thorda)’, Who's Who 2017, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2017
  4. 1 2 "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Mongolia" (Press release). 3 February 2011.
  5. "Tessa Hoffman Questions Competence of UK Ambassador Abbott Watt". Asbarez. 15 March 2004. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  6. "International Group on Genocide Questioned Expediency of Thorda Abbott-Watt as UK Ambassador to Armenia". 12 March 2004.
  7. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (9 May 2016). "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Turkmenistan" (Press release).
  8. "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B24.