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Un/Official Visit? of Nowegian Minister
5thJune2012:The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu has announced, unilaterally, that its Minister for International Development Heikki Holmås ‘is on an official visit’ to Nepal giving little regard to dos and don’ts of diplomatic etiquette. Nepal as the host country, however, had not consented to Holmås’ visit.
For visits by foreign dignitaries to become official, the governments of both — the host and guest — countries have to have proper prior communication.
In Holmås’ case, there had been no official communication between the governments of Nepal and Norway to treat the visit as an official visit, maintain foreign ministry officials.
“This is not a formal visit; the Norwegian minister has arrived in his personal capacity,” said Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat, Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu, however, has termed Holmås’ visit an official one and sent invitations to media for a press conference slated for tomorrow afternoon at Dwarika’s Hotel. “Mr Holmås is on a two-day official visit to Nepal, arriving on Monday (June) 4th and departing on Tuesday 5th of June,” reads the invitation letter.
A highly placed official at MoFA told THT that the Norwegian side had asked to give the visit the official status. “But the government responded unenthusiastically and even conveyed to the embassy that this was not the ‘right time’ to receive high-profile dignitaries given the fluid political situation and that the visit could be a distraction at this point of time,” said the official. “Nevertheless, the Norwegian side, claiming that Mr Holmås was visiting Indonesia as well, insisted that his visit be ensured,” he added. “We okayed the visit but had said in clear terms that it will not be given official status.”
Another MoFA official informed that no protocol officer has been assigned for whatever parleys Holmås will hold with Nepali stakeholders. In diplomacy, assigning a protocol officer during talks gives the official touch to visit.
But what is rather more interesting is politicians of Nepal, including the prime minister, did not give two hoots about the diplomatic decorum the MoFA mandarins are talking about.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai was very much available for Minister Holmås, who later called on Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala and UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal. During the talks, Holmås is learnt to have asked how the Constituent Assembly was dissolved without promulgating the constitution.
When asked, Kamala Bista, a representative of the Norwegian mission, admitted that the visit was not official but was quick to maintain that ‘the Norwegian side, however, viewed it as an official one’. Be that as it may, MoFA officials are asking: What does that mean?
By Lekhanath Pandey
Photo Credit: www.myrepublica.com
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