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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Like every novelty, the concept of the virtual embassy raises many questions, mostly related to how a virtual embassy might parallel the activities of a real embassy.

What is a virtual embassy?

When we call an embassy “virtual,” it means that this embassy does not have physical premises.

Does a virtual embassy have diplomats?

Yes, it needs diplomats – people cannot be replaced by computers. In a real embassy, diplomats work from their embassy in the receiving state. In a virtual embassy, diplomats remain in the capital city of their own country and communicate with other countries through electronic means. “Virtual diplomats” need some specific skills, including those relevant to Internet communication and protocols.

Will virtual embassies replace traditional ones?

No. They will complement traditional embassies. Direct “face-to-face” contact, especially in conducting highly sensitive political negotiations, will remain the main diplomatic channel.

The second difference is that a virtual embassy provides real possibilities for interaction between diplomats and visitors. Diplomatic websites, on the other hand, are used mainly for providing information.

What diplomatic functions can a virtual embassy perform?

It can perform almost any diplomatic function specified in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, from information dissemination, protection of interests of citizens abroad and negotiations, to investment promotion and more. The decision of the exact purpose for any virtual embassy will depend on the establishing government’s decision on how to use it.

To whom is a virtual embassy accredited?

Here is the main difference between traditional embassies, which need to be accredited to particular countries or international organisations, and virtual embassies. A virtual embassy is “accredited” to cyberspace.

Can virtual embassies perform consular functions?

Yes. Consular affairs are usually considered “computerization friendly,” mainly because consular functions are clearly defined. They are repetitive and predictable activities that use standard procedures, decision-making criteria, and forms. With the growing mobility of people, including investments, tourism and economic migration, there will likely be a growing need for virtual consular functions. The tools are available. It remains to be seen how this will be integrated in the policy and organisation of diplomatic services.

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