Honorary officials with special tasks

They perform a wide range of tasks and occupy a special position in the Foreign Service: honorary consuls support the work of the Federal Foreign Office around the world. Germany’s honorary consuls in the Caribbean have gathered in Berlin for the first time to exchange experiences among themselves and with career diplomats.

The honorary consuls, from twelve Caribbean states, have enjoyed a diverse programme with events in Berlin and Hamburg. The lectures and discussions have covered a host of subjects, from ways to promote foreign trade to the structure of the United Nations, environmental protection and renewable energy. The programme has thus reflected the special profile of honorary consuls.

Honorary consuls are honorary officials of the Federal Foreign Office. They complement the work of the diplomatic missions and consular posts in many places around the world. They are appointed in places where there is no real need for a permanent career-consular post, but where tasks do crop up which the responsible mission cannot properly fulfil – for instance in a remote area nonetheless popular with Germans. There are currently some 350 honorary consuls assisting the Federal Foreign Office.

Germany’s honorary consuls have a particular role to play in the Caribbean states, because the only Embassy in the region – in Port of Spain in Trinidad – is responsible for no fewer than ten countries. So it is all the more important that it be supported by a dependable network of honorary consuls in the individual states. After more than 33 years living in the British Virgin Islands, Astrid Menzke has built up excellent contacts. She has been German Honorary Consul for two years now, but has assisted the Embassy for 28 years by acting as a contact, or “warden”, for German nationals locally. She is a point of contact in any situation: for example, she accepts information about births or deaths.

Wide range of tasks

Given their special role, the honorary consuls in the Caribbean perform the usual consular tasks, but not only also representative and political tasks. Andreas Kusay, who has been Honorary Consul in Barbados since 2008, particularly enjoys this aspect of the work. For instance, the honorary consuls had a very active role to play in connection with Germany’s campaign for a non permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2011/12 term. They were crucial in drumming up support for Germany’s candidature in their countries.

Although the honorary consuls meet every two years with staff of the Embassy in Port of Spain, this one-week visit to Germany from 3 to 9 June is providing them with additional important insights. Andreas Kusay says the highlight for him has been the tour of the Political Archives. Seeing the historic documents and treaties, he says, brought the history of German foreign policy very much to life. The meeting with the staff of the Crisis Response Centre was also very useful, he continues, particularly given conditions in his consular district. As islands, and with their special climatic conditions, Kusay explains, the Caribbean states are particularly at risk from natural disasters such as severe tropical storms.

Last updated 07.06.2012

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