Delhi to host honorary consuls meet

Saturday, February 12, 2011

NEW DELHI - The first South Asian regional meet of honorary consuls will be held in the capital Feb 15-17.

Organised by Honorary Consular Corps Diplomatique-India (HCCD) under the auspices of Federation of Internationale des Corps et Associations Consulaires (FICAC), the conference will witness participation of over 150 honorary consuls from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“The gathering of consuls from the region will promote better understanding of their duties, rights and functions and will equip them with greater knowledge pertinent for their smoother functioning,” HCCD president Vivek Burman, honorary consul for Nicaragua in New Delhi, said here Saturday.

HCCD represents the honorary consuls who are basically prominent citizens of India but represent diplomatic interests of other nations which do not have regular consuls here.

The FICAC president and honorary consul of Turkey in Jamaica, Arnold Foote, who is here to participate in the regional meet, told reporters that the conference would focus on the role of consuls in the changing world geo-political scenario.

“India has been fast-paced in its growth as a political super power and this makes the congregation much more important and pertinent,” Foote said.

He said the honorary consuls were able to contribute quite well in enhancing relations between the sending nation and the receiving nation of such diplomats, primarily in the area of bilateral trade.

“Consular operations can no longer be confined to issuing travel documents and attention to welfare of the nations of countries that we represent, as globalisation has altered the framework of bilateral and multilateral cooperation,” he added.

Noting that several countries worldwide were closing down embassies for budgetary reasons and appointing honorary consuls to serve in countries in which they have business interests, Foote said the role of honorary consuls had expanded to encompass the full range of economic, political and diplomatic relations.

“This expanded role is particularly important for developing countries and small states which cannot afford global deployment of their foreign service,” he added.

HCCD general secretary K.L. Ganju, who is also honourary consul for Comoros in India, said though honorary consuls are not designated as ambassadors, they perform the same role as ambassadors, but do not enjoy all the diplomatic rights and privileges of ambassadors, as they are citizens of the host country.

Honorary consul for Nauru in India Kartar Singh Bhalla said the conference was aimed at promoting better understanding of duties, rights, functions, obligations and privileges of consular offices and its incumbents entrusted with the responsibility of fulfilling diplomatic roles.

The conference will be inaugurated by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will be the chief guest.

Former minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor will also join the event.

Filed under: Politics

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