Archive for June 23rd, 2010

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Back to the Baroness and EU Super Embassy’s

June 23, 2010

Well dear readers, the inevitable appears to have happened.

http://euobserver.com/9/30330

Meeting in Madrid on Monday (21 June), EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and deputies from the European Parliament sealed a deal on the nature and content of the new corps, meant to give coherency to the Union’s external policy.

“We should not underestimate how important today’s decision is (…). This means we can now move forward with the service and have it operational by the autumn.” said Ms Ashton after the lengthy meeting in the Spanish capital.

So, as Ukraine is one of the first nations listed for an EU Super-Embassy no doubt the foreigners and expats in Ukraine will see a number of national embassy’s disappear.

Of course this will ease a problem for Kyiv who have many embassy premises currently occupied on a list of properties for sale……as per the political incompetence of Mayor Cosmos of Kyiv.

I will accept that in such times of economic restraint, closing the Luxemburg Embassy in Kyiv for example, makes sound fiscal sense, particularly when that money and diplomatic expertise can be redeployed to a location where the diplomatic voice of Luxemburg will have much more clout…….like Papua New Guinea……..but what of the Luxemburg national who loses his passport or gets arrested in Kyiv?

Are nations, considering the debarkle of Israel and EU passports, going to allow blank sovereign passports to be held in a multi-national bundle issued by a diplomat or mandarin of another nation?

Of course, I do not expect the large EU players to close their embassies.  Germany, France, the UK, and neighbouring states such as Poland etc etc will continue to have their own soveriegn representatives in Kyiv (and other cities as well), but would Belgium be happy with a Bulgarian official issuing a replacement Belgian passport?

Would Belgium be happy for a Bulgarian diplomat to visit their citizen in a Ukrainian gulag?

More to the point would a Belgian national want to see the Bulgarian diplomat when sat in a Ukrainian gulag anyway?

There is a major trust issue with the EU super embassy when a nation closes its own representitive embassy and effectively passes first point of contact for their citizens in need to a diplomat from another nation over whom they have no assurance of the pedigree.

If I get arrested would I want a Greek, Romanian or Spanish official to come and visit me or even represent me? – Absolutely not!

Firstly, no matter what kind of trouble I get myself into in Ukraine, I would be very unlikely to even turn to my own Embassy intially, but I would turn to those I know inside Ukraine instead.  If they could not help, then OK the Embassy can be informed but they cannot really help other than to insure my cell conditions are adequate as is my food, access to legal representation etc……and then make any representations at an official level if they felt I was being wronged by Ukraine.

Now whilst you may be “bent over and roughly taken from behind” occasionally in business in Ukraine, the chances of a foreigner from the EU or generic “West” being wrongly detained let alone jailed are very, very, very, VERY slim……unless they actually carried out the act of which they are accused……in which case tough sh*t.

It is not often I defend idealism over pragmatics……in fact this maybe a first on this blog…….BUT who is better placed to represent the bilateral goals, bilateral negotiations, bilateral interests and ME in Ukraine?  An EU super-embassy with diplomat/mandarin of suspect pedigree……or the UK Embassy?

No brainer.

From a Ukrainian point of view, does the soon arriving EU super-embassy in Kyiv help them (other than freeing up prime property for sale)?

As I state, the local neighbouring nations will probably want to keep their own embassies active simply because they are relevant for border demarkation, bilateral issues not effecting the majority of EU nations and the like.  The major EU sponsors of Germany, France, UK and Italy are very unlikely to remove their embassies from Kyiv as they will wish to discuss matters of EU and bilateral consequence quietly and not necessarily through a central mouthpiece.

With the major EU players and neighbours likely to keep their embassy’s in Kyiv for obvious reasons, who will Ukraine speak to? 

What role is there for a super-EU Embassy in Kyiv other than a central issuing point for shengen visas for Ukrainian citizens?

If Ukraine wants to influence EU thinking, who do they speak with, a central EU body…..or quietly with Germany, then France, The UK and Italy first?

How will this embassy be staffed?  The best and the brightest at the expense of soveriegn nations bilateral interests, or the dullards and incompentants, (sideways moves out of the way).  The friction over appointments is guaranteed within an already frictious environment of the EU given recent events.

Of course the newly enhanced political presence of the Luxenburg Embassy in Papua New Guinea doesn’t care.

Message to Mr Cameron and Mr Hague:

I have never needed to call upon His Excellency Leigh Turner or any of the Consuls in Ukraine in many years (or their Russian counterparts when I lived in Moscow) in times of need both personal or business……in fact I see much more often the Greek, Polish and Russian consular staff in Odessa than any politicians, diplomats or mandarins outside of those Ukrainian politicos I know…….HOWEVER,…..do not even consider the option of closing UK Embassy’s around the globe for replacement by EU Super Embassies under the control (or lack of)  of Cathy Ashton.

If anything, the FCO is under represented in nations and thought should be given to expanding it…….even if done on the cheap through Honourary Consuls in cities in nations further afield than capitols.

You will find many people who have no criminal record, already subject to the Official Secrets Act, long term residents in major cities outside capitols where our embassies are located, with ample time, who would be willing to act on behalf of the UKs better interest and who almost daily spend time advising their fellow UK citizens on how to survive and succeed here free of charge……not to mention advising Ukrainians and Ukrainian businesses on who to and how to deal with counterparts in the UK.

The reasources around the planet exist to expand the UK influence without hardly any additional expense (other than maybe sundry expenses) and there is absolutely no requirement to lose any political sway or image to Ms Ashton for reasons of finance.

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