Consuls as Instruments of Trust
It’s always rewarding when the Minister of Foreign Affairs of a country speaks publicly about the contributions of the foreign consuls functioning in his country. Recently, at a meeting of consuls, Erlan Idrisson, the Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs specifically acknowledged the role of the honorary consuls who represent other nations in Kazakhstan. It’s not unusual for the foreign ambassadors posted to the U.S. to invite honorary consuls of their own country to Washington for pep-talks and educational presentations, but it’s less common – although not unheard of – for Foreign Ministers to show overt gratitude to them.
While the home government of career consuls requires them to perform certain functions in the country where they are posted, honorary consuls are often left to their own devices to decide in what area (economic, investment, educational, cultural, scientific, etc.) they want to be specifically active. Kazakhstan confidently stepped forward in sort of a reverse manner when its Foreign Minister praised the efforts of the many honorary consuls who function in the country (as opposed to any honorary consuls of Kazakhstan who may be its representatives abroad).
Honorary consuls often don’t get any instructions on what’s expected of them by the foreign government that appointed them. Add to that the fact that they are usually not familiar with the expectations of the receiving government; that is, the officials in the place where they serve. Let’s not forget that honorary consuls are mostly citizens of the place where they function so there tends to be a different set of expectations for them. This is one of the many reasons why my book, http://seagreenpress.com/book-recognition/ fills a void.
One reader emailed that if it hadn’t been for the information she got from the book, she wouldn’t have known that she could use her position as an honorary consul to access economic interest groups that hadn’t been open to her before. It goes without saying that any career consul also benefits from this knowledge.
As Erlan Idrisson, the Kazakh Foreign Minister said, honorary consuls are instruments of trust. And, trust goes a long way when establishing global relationships that will last. Yes indeed, consuls of both classifications (honorary and career) are natural, local bridges to globalism.