In January 2016, by the invitation of Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, Dr. György Suha was appointed Ministerial Commissioner in charge of liaising with Honorary Consuls in Hungary and of professionally clarifying their status.
Consuls in Hungary have, for a long time, occupied a prominent space in
Hungary’s continuously broadening circle of high diplomacy. Several successful
private initiatives have been launched over the years with the aim of
standardizing procedural activities among honorary consuls and endorsing their
goals, eventually benefiting the sending and the hosting state alike of each
country concerned. In order to congeal uncharted or even disputed territories
in this so far “unsettled” field of varying interests and rights, the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs and Trade has found the way how the status of
honorary consul could be professionally clarified, which could provide many an
answer to a gamut of oft-recurring questions on the blurry side.
Suha, who successfully opened up new vistas in relation to the unanswered
issues of honorary consuls, has long been a widely recognized figure among
friends and colleagues, all of whom have ventured so far as to associate his
name for long years with high diplomacy. Indeed, the need to redefine the
concept of this expansive field is justified by the fact Suha has been a seasoned
diplomat, a senior university lecturer, and a globetrotter with the unabated
desire to discover the world both in his private and professional capacity.
forthcoming activities will encompass issues of a far-reaching interest in this
broad and labyrinthine field. Some major governmental projects with respect to
honorary consuls will be taken up by Suha at a later stage, once the goals set
for the first few months of active work in Hungary has been successfully
implemented. Suha discloses his plans and some tricks of the trade in terms of
the manifold roles he will need to execute, and openly talks about the coveted
outcome of his freshly conceived plans.
Hungary’s diplomatic corps is thrilled to
have you in your new position. Why did the Ministry of Trade and Foreign
Affairs to appoint a Ministerial Commissioner to maintain connections with the
honorary consuls in Hungary?
To tell you
the naked truth, the entire area of honorary consuls was neglected,
malnourished and devoid of the implementation of “best practices” effectively
used internationally up until now, which is due to certain structural and
organizational flaws in the earlier maintenance of this key “sector” if I may
take the liberty to designate it as such. International examples are a clear
indication that this new institutionalized framework can envisage the essential
role of honorary consuls.
Hungary has come to cognizance that honorary consuls
are an important building block in the unexploited human resources that foster
bilateral cooperation in all forms. It must be accentuated that an honorary
consul’s designation and later appointment by the Government of Hungary
represent the superior and quality work, the prestige, and the recognition that
the title humbly implies and its bearer deserves due to reasons that stretch
beyond the limitations of this brief interview.
What are the Government’s long-term plans in terms of improving economic
diplomacy through a seemingly dynamic interaction between the newly appointed
Ministerial Commissioner and the Honorary Consuls?
The constant changes affecting the network of
foreign relations and the challenges that global economic processes have
triggered are the primary forces behind those innovative approaches that decision-makers
of national governments have developed. These decision-makers are in charge of
creating a more dynamic environment for diplomatic institutions. It can be
argued that the national resources used for prioritizing the objectives of
economic diplomacy, developing commercial ties, and creating incentives for
investments are far from being inexhaustible.
Even welfare states are
struggling to come to terms with the restrictive budgetary policy that imposes
limitations on the development of traditional diplomatic institutions. In the
present economic setting, the institution of honorary consuls is beginning to
be recognized more highly than before, though it still represents a resource
that has so far been in “idle” or “suspended” mode. It is built upon the
commitment of its participants, who will – in case the appropriate
international legal background has been established – eventually become part of
an effective mechanism that helps execute the strategies of foreign trade.
In one of your former roles as Vice President for Diplomatic Relations
of FUECH (Federation of the European Associations of Honorary Consuls) you were
in charge of liaising and networking with honorary consuls, in addition to
which you also held positions pertaining to honorary consular affairs and
related areas. What do you think of these issues when you compare Hungarian
practices to international ones?
I can most confidently say that I have the
necessary insight into these matters due to my professional past as an honorary
consul myself for 16 years. Suffice it to say that one must set a thief to
catch a thief. This holds true in the case of my present appointment that I
shall carry out with pride and dignity for the Hungarian nation. Hungary has
occupied a very active role in displaying openness to designate increasing
numbers of honorary consuls overseas. New designations are continuously in the
pipeline as an addition to our already appointed honorary consular staff
currently consisting of 200 members. In our role as a receiving country, we are
in regular contact with more than 50 honorary consuls, the number of whom is
expected to rise, too.
What is your current mission – from a more concrete point of view – to
be accomplished in the short run?
Minister Szijjártó is convinced that searching
for new partnerships and deepening a set of meaningful relations is the sine
qua non of the successful implementation of plans that honorary consuls in
Hungary are devoutly working on. My mission will be to coordinate these
relations as a Ministerial Commissioner.
to this simple but complex goal, several tasks as regards institutional
development and codification have been assigned to me. My initial point of
interest will be to liaise with the honorary consuls in Hungary, while the
upcoming activities of my new position will also encompass those Hungarian
honorary consuls who constitute an important role in endorsing and promoting
the objectives of the Government of Hungary. Harmonizing laws, obligations, and
work conditions must be in compliance with international practices and the
stipulations of the Vienna Convention.
forthcoming few months, my duty will be to meet all those honorary consuls in
Hungary who have been working dynamically on projects of a mutual interest.
Additionally, I am yearning to participate in the daily work of the diplomatic
corps. In this regard, I am more than just optimistic that all the embassies
accredited to Hungary and the sending countries themselves will be of
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