I’ve blogged Hoa Vien Brauhaus at 28 bis Mac Dinh Chi street long ago and I’ve often wondered about the sign attached to the wall outside. Is this the only pub in Saigon or Vietnam with Honorary Consul status? A Czech diplomat in Hanoi first told me about this pub’s status years ago, but I never gave the detail behind it much thought. It seems a lot of countries have Honorary Consuls where they can’t always afford or want to run full-on consulates. They’re not a joke, as you might assume upon seeing this steel plaque outside a pub. They seem to be about ‘smoothing relations’, ‘greasing palms’, yada-yada-yada… At least the Czechs chose a convivial spot to perform those tasks. The Brits’d probably choose a soap factory or an oil rig. Yawn… There’s more in this exchange at Interesting-People.org,
An Honorary Consul is (basically, and from memory) a non-govt employee awarded status by the visiting power. Typically, it’s a businessman living in the host country
The Honorary Counsel gets little but prestige out of the deal; party invitations, maybe a local tax exemption. One traditional perk was Dip. plates to beat parking tickets…
The most famous use was the small Balkan states …absorbed… by the USSR after WWII kept Honorary Consuls in place in the US for all those years. When the USSR collapsed, they were in place, already.
Honorary Consul is also a book and a film. I very much doubt there are any Honorary Vietnamese consuls anywhere, but are there? Is there a pho stall somewhere in Uruguay, Somaliland or Trasnistria greasing palms and smoothing relations in the name of the der faderland?