Akademia Nauk Stosowanych
im. Alcide De Gasperi
BOOK CHAPTER (499-520)
Historical outline of consular relations
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Wyższa Szkoła Gospodarki Euroregionalnej im. Alcide De Gasperi w Józefowie
In Polish subject literature the definition of the word ‘consul’ refers to internal legislation. It is mainly based on the article 1 of legal act from 11th November 1924 About the organisation of consulates and consuls activities, which defines that the assignment of consul is to protect the economic interests of Polish Republic, the protection of Polish citizens abroad and watching the implementation of the international agreements. Consul is a civil officer who works in another country, he is appointed to protect the economic interests of the sending country and to take care of its citizens, and sometimes also to do some formal activities, which come on the operating range of the law courts and some administrative authorities. The consular relations have their origins in antiquity. They have submitted the historical evolution, from the necessity to protect the personal safety of foreigners, through expansion the business contacts, intensification of economic trade, the need to protect the properties and interests, giving the judicial assistance, till contemporary functions which link promoting the development of commercial and economic relations with cultural and scientific cooperation, and also the spread of friendly relations among the states. The origin of the notion consul reaches the Ancient Rome (lat.consul) – that was the civil and military official during the republic period. Consul was the one of two rank officials elected for the yearly cadency. The name of this position is derived from the word consulere in other words to ‘organize debates’. Initially they were also called praetors – ‘going at the head’ or iudices. Their office was called the consulate - consulatus. The first consuls had unlimited authority, which was later diminished because of forming the range of other institutions, particularly from the moment when their judiciary competences were passed to praetors. However, they held their highest military authority, they called the general assemblies and the senate sessions which they presided. In the XVI century the popularity and the importance of consul institution significantly decreased. That was associated with introducing the institutions of permanent diplomatic missions into the international traffic. Returning to the consul institution was associated with the technological progress during the industrial revolution, its assignment was improving the economic contacts and gaining the new markets. The period of industrial revolution was also the period of escalating migration processes and the necessity to take care and help the emigrants and to support the links with their countries of origin. Consuls became professional state officials, they received payments and they were not allowed to take extra work, and the consular duties became their prime assignment. The XX century brought significant changes in the rules of appointing consuls. The citizenship which the consuls had, started to play the role at their nomination. Appointing the professional consul position was depended on possessing the citizenship of the sending country. The different situation of Poland after 1990 caused also the more profitable change in the organization of diplomatic and consular relations, and the evolution of consular functions associated with the increase in number of Polish immigrants and emigrants, and the liberalization of Polish people contacts with foreign countries, radically broadened the range of consular assignments and their efficiency.
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