Denmark to Upgrade Status of Palestinian Representation to ‘Mission’
NEWS, 14 Mar 2011
Upgrade from third-highest ranking of general delegation mirrors move made recently by number of other countries, including Britain.
Denmark on Wednesday [9 Mar 2009] announced that it would upgrade the diplomatic status of Palestinian representatives in the Scandinavian country, in connection with an ongoing visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The upgrade from general delegation, the third highest rank, to mission, the second highest, mirrored moves by several other countries – most recently Britain.
The Danish government wanted to show that it “recognized the progress made to reform the Palestinian society,” Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said.
Abbas also held talks with Foreign Minister Lena Espersen. The Middle East peace process was among the issues discussed, with Danish officials saying they hoped for a breakthrough.
Britain’s Foreign Office said Monday it would upgrade the status of the Palestinian representation in London as an “administrative step.” But in an address to Parliament, Foreign Secretary William Hague cited “the extent of our aid to the Palestinian Authority and our work with them” as the reason.
Hague met Abbas in London on Tuesday, in part to confirm the move. In his address to parliament the day beforey the foreign secretary said: “It remains more vital than ever that we press for a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We want to see an urgent return to negotiations, based on clear parameters including 1967 borders. We will work with all the parties to press for a decisive breakthrough this year.”
British diplomats said that the diplomatic upgrade involves renaming the Palestinian General Delegation Office the Palestinian Mission; simplified visa arrangements for members of the mission; changing the title of the head of delegation to head of mission and a request that Westminster Council provide personal parking spaces for Palestinian Mission officials.
Foreign Office officials emphasized that the upgrade does not confer formal diplomatic status to the mission, nor the associated privileges and immunities of diplomatic status.
“This is not the first step toward U.K. recognition of a Palestinian state,” a British diplomat said. “It is right that we should recognize the progress made in building institutions of state.”
In recent months France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the United States and other countries have announced similar upgrades to PA diplomatic delegations. While the measures are symbolic gestures only, they stand out against the cold shoulder being shown by European Union members to Israel with regard to the peace process.
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