Olaph Terribile   22 Jan 2013   Diplomacy

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As is customary in many countries, the diplomatic corps is invited to exchange New Year’s greetings with the Head of State and other leading dignitaries. Malta is no exception. The diplomatic corps accredited to Malta was recently invited to exchange New Year’s greetings with the Head of State, the Prime Minister, and the newly elected Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Diplomatic protocol plays an important role on such occasions. During such exchanges speeches are delivered by the respective dignitaries and by the Dean who speaks on behalf of the diplomatic corps. On this occasion, the Prime Minister spoke about important developments that took place in 2012 and about Malta’s role in these events. He referred to the Maltese economy with particular mention of the government's focus on safeguarding employment and social and health services. The Prime Minister concluded his speech by making reference to the upcoming general elections, mentioning that such an event is a renewal and consolidation of a democratic process.

The newly elected Minister of Foreign Affairs took advantage of this, his first meeting with the diplomatic corps, to announce the new Permanent Secretary. The Minister had words of praise for the work carried out by diplomats. He described them as ‘flag bearers of their country’; he commented on how they shoulder the responsibility of representing the interests and issues of their countries. The Foreign Minister paid homage to His Excellency Christopher Stevens, Ambassador of the United States of America to Libya, who was murdered in September 2012 recalling how his death sent ‘shock waves through the diplomatic community around the world’.

In the absence of the Dean, the acting Dean of the diplomatic corps thanked the Maltese dignitaries present and, on behalf of the respective Heads of State of those present, showed his appreciation for giving the diplomatic corps such an opportunity to renew their sentiments and to communicate their most sincere New Year's greetings.

The New Year is but one of several occasions throughout the year when diplomats will encounter issues such as the order of precedence and titles and forms of address, both major components of diplomatic protocol. In Diplo’s course on Diplomatic Protocol and Etiquette, we look at the importance of protocol in a diplomat’s life. And not just from a Maltese perspective. Participants from all over the world bring their own experiences to the classroom and together we explore the meaning and function of protocol and etiquette in what is becoming an increasingly technology-driven society.

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