President-elect may have to relinquish Chilean honorary consul post
Estonia's president-elect Alar Karis may have to vacate his role of honorary consul representing the South American nation of Chile, a position he has held for around 10 years.
Karis, elected by a four-vote margin at the Riigikogu Tuesday, will take office in mid-October. In the meantime, a decision needs to be made on whether he will remain South Estonia honorary consul of Chile, BNS reports.
Foreign ministry spokespersons said: "It is the practice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that, in order to prevent a potential conflict of interest, high-ranking public officers are not appointed honorary consuls."
"As an exception, people in state public service working in an education or research establishment can be appointed honorary consuls," the ministry statement continued.
Karis was rector of the University of Tartu at the time of his appointment as honorary Chilean consul, around a decade ago.
As a university town, Tartu has a large overseas student body.
The overall criteria for appointing honorary consuls, the foreign ministry says, are that the individual is of good standing in society, ordinarily resides in Estonia, is capable of fulfilling the role, and is not involved in state public service.
Karis, who most recently has worked as National Museum of Estonia (ERM) director, would likely have ticked all these boxes until Tuesday.
Honorary consuls need not be Estonian citizens, or indeed citizens of the state they are representing; for instance a U.K. national and permanent resident of Estonia is the honorary consul for Croatia.
The position tends to lend itself to representation either of states which don't have full or part diplomatic representation in the host nation - as Chile does not, in Estonia - or in secondary cities or locations in countries where it does.
For instance, Estonia has or has had honorary consuls in several U.K. cities including Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and even Cheltenham, in addition to the embassy in London.
The Estonian foreign ministry says it will not rule on Karis continuing in the honorary consul role, adding that either Santiago, or Karis himself, will have to take the decision.
The Chilean embassy in Helsinki covers Estonia.
Outgoing president Kersti Kaljulaid was in Santiago on an official visit last autumn, en route to a trip to Antarctica.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte