Edinburgh architect Douglas Abrahams has been appointed honorary Lithuanian consul to Scotland - but is having difficulty fulfilling his duties because he is so busy with his architectural work in Vilnius. Appointed in September, Abrahams has had unofficial links with the country since 1993, and has had an office there for the past two years. This employs two Lithuanian architects and an Irish architect, plus an administrator. Abrahams also employs eight architects in his other two offices, in Edinburgh and Galashiels.
He believes he was selected because 'I was involved in things on the fringes of architecture', including persuading Edinburgh to set up a cultural protocol with Vilnius. This involved organising a delegation from Vilnius to Edinburgh, which achieved considerable publicity.
He is still a little vague about the precise duties of an honorary consul, but believes it is mainly to do with establishing trade links between the two countries. His present stay in Vilnius is because he is finishing work on a large factory for British vita, a Manchester manufacturer which plans to use Lithuania as a base for exporting to Russia. Abrahams sees this as one of Lithuania's strengths, as a relatively stable economy and culture.
His other work in Lithuania includes offering guidance on site/property procurement, and he is designing for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints in Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus.
Abrahams said that the invitation to become honorary consul 'came at me out of the blue'. He is a little worried that 'the architectural profession is not the richest' after enjoying a lavish lunch hosted by the German consul. But his financially modest circumstances evidently match those of Lithuania, and he can also offer the delights of a relatively balmy climate - in Vilnius it recently reached -20C.