Arrival and Departure of Heads of Mission

16.10.2019. 10:00

 

Agrément

In accordance with Article 4 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), Agrément shall be sought for the person proposed to be accredited as the Head of Mission to the Republic of Latvia.

Agrément shall be received before the person concerned officially arrives in Latvia or his or her identity is made public. The request for Agrément shall include a Curriculum Vitae of the person proposed to be accredited as the Head of Mission.  

A request for Agrément may be submitted to the Head of State Protocol. Such requests may be made in the form of a Verbal Note or letter from the mission concerned in Riga, or from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the sending state or, in case of non-resident missions, by communication through the Latvian mission in the capital where the Head of Mission resides.

In cases where the Head of Mission is to be accredited to more than one state and the head is to reside outside Latvia, it is customary to await the Agrément of the country in which the prospective head of the mission is to reside. If the new Head of Mission is not to reside in the same place as his predecessor, the Republic of Latvia should also be notified to that effect in compliance with Article 5, paragraph 1 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).

Once Agrément has been given, State Protocol will notify the sending state through the diplomatic channels concerned. The granting of Agrément can then be made public as desired.

 

Arrival of Ambassador-designate

The Ambassador - designate, who will reside in Latvia, is free to arrive in the country at any time following the notification of the Agrément.   

As soon as State Protocol is provided with Ambassador - designate’s date of arrival along with a request for a date for the presentation of the Letters of Credence, the State Protocol will schedule the date of the presentation of the Letters of Credence with the Chancery of the President.

As soon as the date of the Ceremony for the presentation of the Letters of Credence is set, the Ambassador-designate will receive from the State Protocol notification concerning the date of the above-mentioned ceremony and an aide-memoire concerning the presentation of credentials from State Protocol prior to his or her arrival in Riga.     

Upon his or her arrival in Riga, the Ambassador-designate will be greeted only at Riga International Airport by a State Protocol Officer

Although Ambassadors-designate are free to choose the time and day of arrival in Riga, the State Protocol would appreciate it if their arrivals were not to coincide with weekends or National Holidays, or take place out of office hours.

For non-resident Ambassador-designate, it is recommended that he or she arrives at least one day before the ceremony of the presentation of the Letters of Credence. Usually the official programme of the accreditation visit should not exceed 3 working days.

On arrival to take up his or her post as a Head of Mission the expenses concerning the VIP service at Riga International Airport will be covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  For non-resident Ambassadors transfers from/to the Airport or other place (Riga Passenger Terminal, Railway station) of the arrival/departure according to the visit programme, will be covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well.

Ambassadors do not take up their functions and/or any public duties in Latvia until they have presented their Letters of Credence to the President of the Republic of Latvia.  

Likewise, the Head of Mission-designate may not enter into contact with other Ministers or Secretaries of State, or with members of the Saeima (Parliament) or other elected representatives of the institutions, or with officials from other Ministries, and may not entertain in an official status until his or her Letters of Credence have been presented to the President of the Republic of Latvia, an act which marks the formal completion of his or her accreditation procedures.

In accordance with Article 13 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), precedence among Ambassadors depends on the date of presentation of the Letters of Credence to the President.

 

Presentation of the Letters of Credence

Presentation of copies of the Letters of Credence and Recall

  • Copies of the Letters of Credence and Recall of his or her predecessor are presented to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (only for resident Ambassadors) and State Secretary (for non-resident Ambassadors) if the programme of the accreditation visit envisages an official call on the Minister before the accreditation ceremony at the President of the Republic of Latvia. In other cases copies of the Letters are presented to the State Secretary or Head of the State Protocol
  • Once the Minister of Foreign Affairs (State Secretary or Head of the State Protocol) has received the copies of the Letters of Credence and Recall of his or her predecessor, the Ambassador-designate may contact the Ministry on a working basis
  • Were there any needs for contacts to be made or specific meetings to be held due to a force majeure situation, the new Ambassador should inform the Head of State Protocol
  • Similarly, the new Ambassador should refrain during this period from giving public interviews or making official declarations to the mass media.

 

Practical aspects for the preparation of the ceremony

The State Protocol is in charge of the organisation of the Ceremony of Presentation of the Letters of Credence. All practical aspects are arranged in close cooperation with the mission of the relevant country. The Embassy concerned will be supplied with all the necessary information, particularly detailing the ceremonial aspects of the ceremony of the presentation of the Letters of Credence.

When the date of the Ceremony has been determined, the Embassy is requested to forward the following information to the State Protocol:

  • Time of the arrival and departure of the Ambassador, including the flight number
  • Names of accompanying persons
  • Working language to be used at the audiences

 

Courtesy call on the Head of the State Protocol

On the predetermined date (usually on the day of presentation of the Letters of Credence or the day before) the Ambassador-designate pays a courtesy visit to the Head of State Protocol.

 

Ceremony of presentation of the Letters of Credence

Dress code: Dark Suit, Diplomatic or Military Uniform, National Dress.
Venue: Residence of the President of the Republic of Latvia – Riga Castle.
Official languages: Latvian and English

Arrival at the Riga Castle

The Ambassador's party is comprised of the spouse of the Ambassador (if present) and maximum three persons of the diplomatic staff of the Embassy, including the Defence Attaché.

Resident Ambassadors are provided with transportation (a VIP limousine) by the State Protocol only for arrival to and departure from the Accreditation ceremony at the Riga Castle.

Non-resident Ambassadors are provided with transportation (a VIP limousine) by the State Protocol during the whole accreditation visit.

At the arrival at the Riga Castle the Ambassador’s limousine is escorted by the State Protocol. Motorcade enters the Riga Castle through the Main Gate to the inner courtyard. The Head of State Protocol welcomes the Ambassador in the lobby of the Riga Castle and accompanies him/her and the suite to the Riga Hall which is located on the 2nd floor.

Description of the Ceremony of the Presentation of the Letters of Credence

Following the first fanfares, the Head of State Protocol accompanies the Ambassador and his/her suite to the White Hall which is located on the 3rd floor.

Head of the State Protocol, the Ambassador and the suite wait in the Blue Saloon until the music stops. When the music stops, guards of honour open the doors. The Ambassador together with the suite follows the Head of the State Protocol down the red carpet leading to the centre of the hall. The Ambassador stops at the site located by the Head of the State Protocol, the accompanying party stays a few steps behind.

The Head of State Protocol introduces the Ambassador to the President by announcing in Latvian:

“Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Latvia, I have the honour to present to you the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to be accredited of the Republic of………… H.E. ……….”.

As soon as the introduction ends, the President makes a sign to the Ambassador requesting him/her to introduce himself/herself by saying:

“Your Excellency, I have the honour to present ……… and to express my ………”

After the speech the Ambassador approaches the President and stops at a distance of two steps so it would be possible to hand over the Letters of Credence together with the Letters of Recall of the predecessor.

After the presentation of the Letters of Credence an official photo in front of the national flags is taken. Following that the Ambassador requests a permission to introduce his/her suite to the President by saying:

“Your Excellency, may I present to you my spouse …/ the member(s) of my staff…?”.

An official photo with the Ambassador’s suite follows.

After the Ceremony the President invites the Ambassador to the Hall of the Ambassadors for a brief conversation in the presence of the President’s Foreign Affairs Advisor and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ambassador’s spouse and maximum one representative of the diplomatic staff of the Embassy may be present.

After the conversation the Ambassador and the suite accompanied by the Head of the State Protocol make their way for the cars and depart from the Riga Castle.

Gifts

According to the traditions of Latvian Protocol it is not customary for gifts to be presented (neither directly nor indirectly) to the President during the Ceremony of the Presentation of the Letters of Credence.

 

Duration of the accreditation visits of the Head of Mission

Resident Head of Mission

Accreditation visit of resident Head of Mission includes a courtesy call to the Speaker of the Saeima. This visit is arranged by the State Protocol and included into the official programme. 

Other appointments should be arranged by the Ambassador’s office.

Non-resident Head of Mission

Programme of the accreditation visit includes courtesy calls on a member of the Presidium of the Saeima and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Courtesy calls on the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs are not practiced.

Visit of the Occupation Museum of the Republic of Latvia is included in the programme of the accreditation visit of non-resident Ambassadors.

Other appointments should be arranged by the Ambassador’s office.

Departure of a resident Head of Mission

The mission shall inform the State Protocol of the date of termination of office of the Head of Mission in Latvia by means of a Verbal Note. According to the Latvian Protocol, the Ambassador pays official farewell visits to the President of the Republic of Latvia and the Speaker of the Parliament. The State Secretary hosts a farewell meeting for departing Ambassadors. Other farewell visits should be arranged by the Ambassador’s office.

A State Protocol officer escorts the Ambassador to Riga International Airport to bid farewell. The State Protocol would appreciate if departures would not take place on weekends, national holidays and out of office hours.

The expenses concerning the VIP Lounge service at Riga International Airport are covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (format 1+ family members)

 

Departure of a non-resident Head of Mission

The mission shall inform the State Protocol of the date of termination of office of the Head of Mission by means of a Verbal Note. In order to arrange the programme of the Ambassador’s farewell visit, the State Protocol would appreciate being informed about the arrival of the Ambassador in due time.

The following information shall be conveyed to the State Protocol:

  • Time of the arrival and departure of the Ambassador, including the flight number
  • Names of the accompanying persons
  • Working language to be used at the audiences

The respective Embassy will be supplied with the information setting out the details of the Ambassador’s programme in Riga.

According to the Protocol, the Ambassador pays official farewell visits to a member of the Presidium of the Saeima and the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Farewell visits to the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs are not practiced.

A State Protocol officer escorts the Ambassador to Riga International Airport to bid farewell. The State Protocol would appreciate if departures would not take place on weekends, national holidays and out of office hours.

The expenses concerning the VIP Lounge Service at the Riga International Airport, as well as transfers from/to the Airport or other place (Riga Passenger Terminal, Railway station) of the arrival/departure according to the programme are covered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (format 1+1).

 

Appointment of Charges d’Affaires ad interim

In accordance with Article 19 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, if the post of head of mission is vacant, or if the head of mission is unable to perform his duties, a Charge d’Affaires ad interim shall act provisionally as head of the mission. The name of the Charge d’Affaires ad interim shall be notified, either by the head of the mission in a letter bearing his or her signature or, in the case where he or she is unable to do so, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the sending state to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the receiving state.

In cases where no member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is present in the receiving state, a member of the administrative and technical staff may, with consent of the receiving state, be designated by the sending state to be in charge of the day-to-day administrative affairs of the mission. Such person will have the title of Charge d’Affaires.

Please note that a Charge d’Affaires ad interim may not appoint another Charge d’Affaires ad interim.