For Health… Good Evening Dear Friends.
Human-beings are deemed superior to other creatures on earth because of their brain power.
“Bridges” are one of the solutions devised by human-beings in their fight against the nature. “Bridges” are used to bring distant places closer to us and build relations between us.
“Bridging the World” for a better World means bridging cultures and traditions, freedom; fighting against poverty, inequality and injustice; security of air travel, nutrition, water, bio-ecological perspectives on human development, women’s rights, cybernetics societies, medicine and genetics.
All of us, the Honorary Consuls around the world, can contribute to build happiness by working for the achievement of friendship and more equal rights by fighting against racism and polarization to reach much higher levels of global peace stability.
FICAC performs a key role in bridging people together and fostering mutual understanding, via organizing meeting and events to allow Consuls throughout to World to meet and to exchange with their colleagues.
If you want to go fast, go alone,
But if you want to go far, go together,
We have a long way to go,
We can only do so, if we go together.
Dear President of Consular Corps Association of Cyprus Hon. Christos,
Dear Vice President of FICAC Hon. Lefkaridis,
Dear Secretary General of FICAC, Hon. Margaropoulos,
I would like to thank all of you for your presence here in Limassol.
I appreciate to my brother Christos and the Board of Directors accepted to organize this event. I must not forget Melita, former president of Consular Corps and Owner of Easy Conference who organized this event.
On this occasion, I would like to present to Melita and president Hon. Christos souvenir of FICAC 40 Years Anniversary.
I wish all of you a wonderful stay in Limassol and fruitful Congress.
Dear Vice-President Honorable Kostas Lefkaritis
Dear Secretary General Honorable Nikos Margaropoulos,
Dear Honorable Colleagues, Brothers, Sisters,
Second of October 1982 Saturday, to Second of October 2022 Sunday…40 years from Denmark to Worldwide.
From the first President Hon. Vagn Jespersen, to me. But we must not forget Hon. Mavromatis from Cyprus, Hon. Naschitz from Israel, Hon Dahlman from Sweden and Hon. Foote from Jamaica.
From one board meeting per year to every three months meetings per year.
From 24 Consular Associations who signed a resolution of the 2nd of October 1982 to approximately 90 countries’ Consular Association today.
From a “de facto” Association to the International Non Profit Association by Royal Decree in Belgium. On the 14th of July 2006, I signed the registration of FICAC as an AISBL under Belgium’s laws with my colleagues, Hon. Roland Dahlman, Hon. Marcel Meyer and Hon. Fernando Oliveira.
From one committee to various committees.
Dear colleagues, during these 40 years, I served FICAC for 22 years as treasurer, as secretary general and as president. In 2000, former President Hon. Mavromatis and active President Hon. Nashitz, at the first BOD Meeting in Istanbul, decided to coopte me within the BOD, following the Curacao General Assembly meeting. Since that time, together with all my colleagues, I worked hard all along these 22 years. I met a lot of people from and various countries. Brothers, sisters, friends, altogether, we created a big family, FICAC family.
We have promoted FICAC on every occasion, during our visits to numerous countries all around the world: we presented the FICAC gold star to several Heads of States and religious Leaders: during the last three years to His Holiness Pope Francis; to HE Ms. Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal and to HE Borut Paho, President of Slovenia
We visited several congressmen and congresswomen in the USA, but also prime ministers, ministers, mayors, presidents of chambers of commerce and industry, rectors of universities in many countries.
We signed many partnership agreements, the last ones with the Mediterranean Parliamentary Association and the University of Thessaloniki.
As NGO at the UN, we are an active federation to promote and support the UN’s sustainable goals. On this occasion, I would like to thank my Chief of Cabinet, Mr. Patrick Debus, who worked hard with me to prepare all the documents for the session of the NGO’s Committee meeting on the 7th of February 2018: on this occasion, the ECOSOC Council approved the reclassification of FICAC of from Roaster consultative status to Special status.
On the 13th of March, 2002, the Organization of American States approved the participation of FICAC in OAS activities. In 2019, thanks to the privileged contacts of our colleague Hon. Asif Chowdhury, we paid a courtesy visit to the Secretary General of OAS, HE Luis Leonardo Almegro, to re-establish our relations with this organization.
Every year, we also paid a visit to the president of the UN General Assembly.
Since 2006, every year, in September, I do have organized the FICAC horse races, except during the pandemic. This year, also, on the 2nd of September 2022, we organized the 13th of FICAC Horse Race Cup in İzmir. I hope that, in the future, our colleagues will be able to organize FICAC Horses Races Cup or similar events in their own countries. Indeed, such events are attracting and bringing together ambassadors and honorary consuls from various countries: they are great occasions to also promote FICAC.
Like all our colleagues, we lost almost 2 years from our lives during the pandemic.
During this time, we had several virtual BOD’s meetings via Zoom, but “Face to Face meetings” remains always the most fruitful ones.
I would like to give you some information regarding what happened during the period 2018-2022.
Following the World Congress of Consuls 2018, at the Belgian Senate and at the Palace of Egmont, we had our 1st BOD in Brussels.
Our 2nd BOD meeting was held in Casablanca, Morocco, on the 7th of December 2019, when a Regional meeting was also kindly organized by our Honorable Colleagues and friends of the “Union des Consuls Honoraires au Maroc”. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the President Hon Majid Boutaleb and the Secretary General Hon. Atman Haloui, who did their best, for all of us, to enjoy our stay in their beautiful country.
On the 1st of March 2019, I traveled with my wife to Bucharest, Romania, to attend the “The UCOR Spring Ball 2019” a black-tie event, attended by diplomatic and business personalities. This event was organized by our new Member, the ”Union des Consuls Honoraires en Roumanie”, to support a charity project to raise funds to purchase medical equipment for the benefit of the children from the Palliative Care Center Hospice Sibiu, Romania.
During our stay in Romania, my wife and myself, we were invited at Palace Elisabeta for a lunch with our good friends, Her Royal Highnesses Princess Margareta and Prince Radu of Romania.
Our 3rd BOD meeting was held in the USA. On the 5th of March, 2019, we paid a courtesy visit to the Congressman John Garamendi, 3rd District, California, at his Washington DC office. The same day, we had a meeting with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States HE Luis Almagro, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay. We decided to re-establish our relationships between OAS and FICAC. During the evening, a dinner was held at the Cosmos Club in Washington DC: we had the opportunity to meet several influent personalities like HE Jorge Heine (Wilson Center), Mr. Glenn C (Center for the Study of the Presidency and the Congress) Prof. Steve Henke (Famous Economist from the John Hopkins University), Mr. Chuck Hunter (U.S Department of State). We had also a lunch with Mrs. Katherine Moss, Director General of The Consular Corps College. I’m pleased to report that, thanks to our Colleague Hon. Louis Vella, who is with us today, the Consular Corps College has joined back FICAC.
On the 8th of March, we had a meeting with HE Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of United Nations General Assembly for the 73rd session. The same day, in the afternoon, we had a meeting at the Consulate General of Georgia in NY, with Consul General Mrs. Diana Zhgenti, President of the Society of Foreign consuls in New York.
From the 11th to 22nd of March, together with some of our colleagues, we were attending the Sixty-Third session of the Commission on the Status of Women, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It is important, for FICAC, to be represented to as many UN events as possible in order to show our full support to UN Goals and activities: also, I urge all Directors to not hesitate to attend UN events they may be interested in.
From the 29th of May to the 2nd of June, I was invited as guest of Honor to attend the Thessaloniki Interlegal Conference, perfectly organized by our colleague Hon. Nikos Margarapoulos. I did a presentation of FICAC to a very distinguished panel of lawyers. I am deeply convinced that such agreements and MOU signed with International well known recognized associations is highly positive for both the signing partners.
On the 13th of June, our 4th BOD meeting was held in Sofia, Bulgaria. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Hon. Boyanov, President of the Association of Honorary Consuls in Bulgaria, to Hon. Behar and to Hon. Christo Buchev, who worked so hard to organize this so successful conference. During this meeting, one minute of silence was held as a mark of respect for the late Ambassador Andreas Mavromatis, from Cyprus, who was President of FICAC between 1995 and 2000.
During our stay in Bulgaria, we also presented the citation to his Majesty King Simeon II, former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. At the dinner, we had as guest speaker the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, her Excellence Ekaterina Zaharieva.
On the 1st of September 2019, our 5th BOD meeting was held in Bled, Slovenia, during the Bled Strategic Forum. I wish to express my sincere thanks to our friend and colleague Hon. Marko Smole and to his spouse Katja Gersak for having given us the opportunity to attend the prestigious Bled Strategic Forum, with so many high profile guests and guest speakers.
Regretfully, I was not able to travel to Kazakhstan, in September 2019, to attend the 2nd day Consular Congress in Nur-Sultan: this event was organized by our colleague, honorary Consul of Belgium in Kazakhstan and president of the Kazak Consular Associatio,n which joined FICAC in 2018, Hon. Denis Van den Weghe.
I wish, and I do hope, that, in the near future, all of our colleagues will organize regional meetings in their Jurisdiction.
Our dear colleague Hon. Francois Piers has also organized, on behalf of FICAC, an art Exhibition in Tunisia for a charitable purpose.
On the 23rd of October, 2019, together with Secretary General Hon. Margarapoulos, and Hon. Cohen, we paid a courtesy visit to the New Board of the “Association des Consuls Honoraires de Monaco.” A fruitful meeting was held to discuss how to strengthen the links between ACHM and FICAC and how to collaborate more closely.
On the 11th of November, 2019, together with Hon. Margaropoulos, we participated to the Day one event in Monaco. The event was very interesting, with young people from all around the world, with interesting discussion about sustainability and climate change. High Level attendees were there, like the CEO of Renault and several CEO of multinationals.
On the 13th and 14th of November, 2019, our 6th BOD meeting and Regional conference on “Solidarity for shared prosperity” was held in Kathmandu, Nepal. The president of the Consular Corps of Nepal, Hon. Pradeep Kumar Shrestha, has showed a great enthusiasm to organize this conference. During our stay, we visited and presented the FICAC Gold Star to the president of Nepal, HE Ms. Bidhya Devi Bhandari .
After Nepal, I visited Korea to Discuss about the GA scheduled to be held in Seoul. Together with Hon. Asif Chowdhury, we met the BOD and the President of the Association of Honorary Consuls in Korea. We had a dinner at the Turkish Ambassador Residence with the president of Consular Corps of Korea.
During our stay in Seoul, we had a lunch with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and with the Vice-Mayor of Seoul, in charge of the International Relations, who confirmed their full support for this event. We also had meetings with journalists from several Korean Newspapers.
After Korea, together with Hon. Chowdhury, and my wife, we visited Tokyo and, afterwards, the Philippines where we attended the Gusi Peace Prize Ceremony. In Philippines, at this occasion, I participated to the annual meeting of the Consular Association.
I would like to thank to colleague Hon Vincente Carlos for having organized a memorable dinner with my long-time friends.
On the 22nd of January, 2020, our 7th BOD meeting was held in Rome, Italy.
We had the privilege to present the FICAC Gold Star, with a delegation of Honorary Consuls, to His Holiness Pope Francis, at the Vatican City. We are very thankful to his Holiness and all our colleagues had the opportunity to have a long conversation with him.
During the afternoon, we signed a MOU with the Mediterranean Parliamentary Association at the Senate of Italy, followed by a very interesting visit of this prestigious venue.
The following day, we had a meeting at the Dicastery for promoting Integral Human Development, with Cardinal Peter Turkson, Head of the Dicastery.
Early February 2020, with my wife, I visited Saudi Arabia to participate to a conference organized by the Council of honorary consuls of Saudi Arabia. It gave me the opportunity to meet with many consuls from Arabic countries. Hon. Miqdadi as a Chairperson for the Middle East Region joined me. I would like to thank our colleague Hon. Mohammed Al-Juhani, Chairmen of the FICAC Committee for Climate Change, for having organized this event in Saudi Arabia.
On the 3rd of May, 2020, we had a meeting with Prof. Burak Kuntay, president of School of Government and Leadership in Bahçeşehir University, to share his thoughts about Women in Diplomacy. Our aim was to organize, in June, some international event. I will talk more about this project on tomorrow.
On the 2nd of December, 2021 our former president, from 2006 to 2015, Prof. Hon. Arnold Foote, passed away.
In February 2022, together with my Secretary General Hon. Nikos Margaropoulos, I signed MOU with Prof. Dr. Athanasios Kaisis, President of the International Hellenic University. My wish is for FICAC to sign more MOU with different Universities in the world. But not only sign, it is also necessary to collaborate for the youth.
In May 2022, we had a BOD meeting in Luxembourg. At this occasion we visited the Vice Mayor of the City of Luxembourg. We discussed about FICAC and the city of Luxembourg collaboration.
On the 8th of September, 2022, there was a fruitful webinar by the Consular Corps College, organized by President Hon. Louis Vella. Several Colleagues from the USA joined this webinar and Hon. Margarapoulos informed the attendees about the World Federation of Consuls organization and the upcoming World Congress of Consuls we have now in Limassol.
During this webinar, I reported about the relations between the Consular Corps College of USA and FICAC: indeed the CCC signed the declaration of FICAC, on the 2nd of October 1982, 40 years ago.
On the 23rd of September, 2022, we had a BOD meeting in Antalya. At this occasion, we visited the Mayor of city of Antalya, Mr.Bocek and the Mayor of Muratpaşa, Mr. Uysal.
From the 29th of September to the 2nd of October, 2022, I could not participate to the 3rd Regional Consular Corps Association, meeting in Kazakhstan, on the initiative of Hon. Denis Van den Weghe.
I am very proud to say that, since 2018, several new members joined the federation:
and others on the way
We do have different committees:
Climate Change & Environment Committee
Security and Consular Privileges Protection Committee
International Exchanges for Culture & Art & Hobbies Committee
Charitable Agreement and Events, World & Regional Conferences Committee
International Relations and International Institutions Committee
Education & Relations with Universities Committee
Public Relations & Media Committee
Trade & Economic Development Committee
And, last but not least, Women in Diplomacy Committee.
The Women in Diplomacy is a very active committee thanks to its Chairwoman Hon. Mrs. Gonul Oray.
They have organized two webinars.
First one was, on the 22nd of April 2021, with HE Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, former president of Croatia and the second one, on the 18th of March 2022, with the Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, former president of Malta.
Dear Honorable Colleagues,
Our aim has been to establish, on a global basis, an exemplary network of consuls to bridging, connecting and uniting together all the consuls around the world. Our goal is not only to share experiences, but also to coordinate globally efforts to consolidate and expand their rights, responsibilities, reliability, status, security, duties and obligations.
The international Diplomatic sphere is no longer conducted only by National Foreign Ministers, but rather one can see the universities, the media and NGO’s have joined the arena of traditional diplomacy. Also, business, trade, tourism, culture and commerce proceed together, as both bring value and opportunities to each other.
Dear Honorable Colleagues,
We are United Consuls like United Nations we must show to the globe that our federation is active and trustworthy. To achieve this goal, every FICAC directors, but also each member of country association has to be involved to work for the benefit for all the Honorary Consuls in the world.
In the recent years, there has been a global trend to gradually replace career ambassadors with Honorary Ambassadors. The economic dynamism of emerging regions in the world and the reduced financial resources of the countries in the west, has actually accelerated the reorganization of National Consular Networks.
The happiness of the people is a prerequisite for the happiness of the regions. We can contribute to building this happiness by working for the achievement of equal rights, cooperation, friendships. Good for us better for all.
During my two administrations, we decided to prepare FICAC ID cards for our colleagues. This year we printed the 3rd ones. Those cards are very useful in some borders to pass at the diplomatic lines. With the help of our colleague Hon. Bhaggeria, we decided to establish the FICAC foundation. Our status is ready but we are in discussion with different banks to open an account.
And finally, before to end my speech,
I would like to thank Melita, former president of the consular association of Cyprus and Hon Christos, President, as well as all the members of the Consular Association of Cyprus, who have all worked assiduously to ensure that the 13th World Congress of Consuls would be a resounding success.
I would like to thank my vice president Hon. Costas Lefkaritis. We have been working together, since the General Assembly in Montego Bay, 2006 and, together, we have visited different international institutions all around the world.
I am particularly grateful to my Secretary General and, very soon, the new president of FICAC Hon. Margaropoulos. I would like to express my sincere wishes of success to the new administration. Good luck and Godspeed, as they carry out their duties to serve the members of our federation and to take FICAC to new Heights and areas of success, as it continues to contribute to the world which we inhabit together.
I also would like to express my deep appreciation for and thanks to all directors with whom I have been working for 22 Years and who worked as a team in a very positive manner bridging successful results.
I would like to thank especially to indefatigable Dr. Patrick Debus for the excellent support he has given to me over 30 years and his professional handling of his duties as the FICAC Permanent Secretary and as Chief of the Cabinet of the President.
Before ending my speech, I would like to thank the half of myself, my dear wife for her excellent support, her patience, tolerance, love and assistance, from the very beginning of my life at FICAC, during these 22 years that I have served this great organization. 2015, she created the Women in Diplomacy Committee and on tomorrow, she will present all their programs.
I take this opportunity to thank all of the attendees for the wonderful cooperation during my 22 years of association with the World Federation of Consuls. My heart and soul will always remain with you.
Dear Members of the Press and Media,
Dear Honorable Colleagues,
One of my dreams, since 2012, is to create the “FICAC Foundation”.
In 2019, with the support of my colleague Hon. Bhaggeria, we decided to establish a Foundation. We asked to several consultants and, finally, thanks to the expertise of our colleague Hon. Amwed Jethu, Hon. Consul for Suriname in the UK and senior financial advisor to the President of Suriname. His report was stating:
-FICAC has a strong franchise which can be used to attract sponsors.
-In general, there are two extreme ends of the finance providers: Charities without any return on their investment and Regular Capital providers who will expect a financial return. Certain donations and gifts are tax deductible as special expenses on the part of the donor. At the same time, the donors could be Honorific Members. Corporate sponsors can be offered in several sponsorship packages. (Silver, gold, platinum etc.) In return for sponsorship deliverables at our future events.
-Investor relations and business development teams at corporates would be very interested to have access to a database with contract details of Global Senior Business decision takers in each FICAC membership country. We could easily charge some important amount per annum per subscription, if database is well maintained.
-Another proposal is to create some amount FICAC Bank Co-Lending fund which will give investors exposure to the SME Sector of fast-growing markets. But this is very difficult with very rich natural resources endowment, many FICAC member countries have a potential to become significant players in the world economy.
With the advice of Hon. Jethu, we decided to establish foundation in Luxembourg. My colleague Dr. Patrick Debus worked hard with some notaries and lawyers to prepare “FICAC Foundation” statutes. Statutes of incorporation are ready, but now we are facing some issue to open a FICAC Foundation bank account. If some colleagues have contacts or some ideas to help us, their advice and assistance will be highly appreciated.
Our aim is to organize seminars for consuls, but also to provide scholarships for the young students at the universities.
So, it is why we have signed MOU with different universities, Bahcesehir University and International Hellenic University. Next year we will continue to go ahead and to sign MOU with different universities all around the globe.
Regarding the student mobility around the world, the number of international students in 1970’s was about 800.000, and in 2019, this number has reached to OECD Countries 3,9 million and non-OECD Countries 1,7 million, a total of 5,6 million. The quality of education, language, low-costs, good opportunities provided to students are effective factors.
Our aim is to provide:
– Courses, seminars or symposiums to be organized on international relations and diplomacy, and additionally, it can be good to be in touch and to collaborate with the universities which have the same deficiencies…
– A protocol can be signed between the university’s graduate school and FICAC. This could cover the members of the association and their relatives and give a certain discount on the tuition of the university’s graduate programs.
– Information can be shared with the educational counselors within the countries and FICAC can support the establishment of global exchange programs, agreements and Erasmus agreements between the prestigious universities in their relevant countries.
I think that, in the future, when we will visit the countries, it will be necessary to also visit the universities. During the visits, the members of FICAC will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with the students.
As we are recognized as NGO with ECOSOC Special status by UN, FICAC and the universities can organize a model United Nations event every year. MUN is an educational simulation in which educational institution represents certain countries and UN Institution through participating student delegate.
– Events may be starting with the certificate program. This program will target to include the professional people in many sectors, from ambassadors to academicians, and even to the business world. (Contribution from all countries will be aimed.) It may be carried out for one month, during weekends, or as an intensive program of one week or just four days. There will be restrictions on the number of people. Program fees may be applied.
– A master program on behalf of FICAC can be launched. If it is decided that physical participation is not necessary to follow the program, the courses may be available online and, eventually, participants could be physically present at the graduation ceremony.
– PhD Scholarship may be granted. Offer by FICAC Foundation each year. Every year it is going to be an outstanding diplomacy Award to Hon. Consul.
– Symposia on diplomacy can be established on behalf of FICAC: it could ve organized for two days and the gala to be held on the last evening of the event. Participation of ambassadors and Consul Generals will be expected, including the Project that is going to be organized. All the programs could be built on “Women’s Place in Politics and Diplomacy” and studies could be carried out within this framework, “Gender Equality”, on the the UN sustainable goals.
Dear Honorable Colleagues,
Our FICAC Foundation and Education Committee must work together!
We are open to hear your valuable suggestions and your ideas to promote FICAC Foundation and education programs.