Ambassador - don't take it out on me!

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The blog is read abroad. I definitely know because there’s a continual arrival of emails protesting about the Italian Consulates and Embassies. Today’s is from Moscow. From the testimony I deduce that the consuls and ambassadors have gone abroad for their holidays. Thinking about it, how do you become a consul or ambassador? I ABSOLUTELY don’t believe it can be by recommendation or political affiliation. Thus it’ll be by merit. Merit in the field.
Add to this Muscovite email, your testimony as Italians abroad. From Toronto to Canberra we always get ourselves recognised.
List of Italian Embassies and Consulates abroad.

”I’m writing to you to tell you about the inefficiency and the consequent waste of public money, that we have seen with our own eyes at the Moscow Embassy in Russia. I would say that the sector of our representation abroad deserves particular attention and you could start with this precise fact.
I’m attaching a summary of this scandalous situation done by a colleague of mine. She is a graduate of Russian and an authorised Tourism Guide. I have sent this document to:
relazioni.pubblico@esteri.it
dalema_m@camera.it
danieli_f@posta.senato.it
and so far I’ve just had an automated reply….
Just to let you know that in September, unless there are concrete replies from the relevant authorities (or even better from you), I will present a denunciation to the Prosecutors of the Republic.
Sincerely.” Michele.

Report on the Italian Embassy in Moscow

“Only Russian employees work here, or at least those in contact with the public. The few Italians once reached (after thousands of Permissions) anyway don’t give any sort of information but invite you to go to a window or to send a fax or email or make a telephone call; we have never received a response to any fax or email and no one ever responds to the telephone, the operators are always busy!

For those with an Italian passport, there’s better treatment, in as much as the queue is avoided – on average a couple of hours – outside the building. Anyway at the entrance umbrellas (and above all video cameras, mobiles, cameras,..) are confiscated so anyone wanting to communicate with the outside world or to document the situation is told to turn off the mobile phone with the sound of cudgels!! Thus once you are inside the building, you are isolated and you can’t talk to anyone and you can’t even go outside, even though you show your queue-numbered-ticket that you got from the automatic machine, you can’t come back in without doing the queue again! There are only three toilets, no cafeteria, and just a few seat while you are waiting. Thus people are obliged to stand for hours and hours, without drinking, eating or going to the toilet.

Once you get to the service window, it often happens that the worker stands up and closes the blind of the window and goes away. You don’t know how long for, even 30-45 minutes!! The opening/closing hours are not shown anywhere, thus at the moment when the worker decides to smoke a cigarette or have a lunch break, people wait in the hope that the bad feeling of the worker will disappear fast, otherwise, you are likely to be discourteously asked to go out and repeat the queue to come in.
You are never given a sheet explaining what type of documentation is needed, they tell you to phone, even if you are on the spot, there’s nothing written down, thus on the phone (when they answer) …words fly … and they can always say that the person asking the questions was stupid and made a mistake in understanding what was said by the person on the phone. The workers are protected by the glass window and by the guards and they feel free to insult the person at the window or to walk away as they please or not to reply…
Clearly a brief description like this cannot fully describe the discomfort and the bad feelings of hundreds of people who have spent thousands of roubles and who have perhaps travelled for days by train to come to Moscow. Furthermore, to ask for a visa, you first need to hand in documents, including your passport, and given that these are the right ones, they have to be analysed… time: about a week. If the visa request is not accepted, the passport is kept for another week… then, at times, even though the person making the request has been told to come at a certain time, they are then told to come another day. ..
But the thing that is DISTURBING AND SHAMEFUL is that if there is an Italian tourist in Moscow who has their documents stolen, they cannot enter THEIR OWN embassy and if they don’t speak Russian they are lost!”

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As an italian who has lived abroad - LOndon and now Brussels - for the past 20 years I am only too familiar with the gross inefficiencies of our Consulate, in fact it makes me sad to see such waste of public money. I could also cite a few annedoctes, but they are so many that I would be here all day, but suffice to say that after the first traumatic experiences in the past few years I usually take the plane and get my documents done in my Italian hometown, so I feel for my compatriotes that live too far away to do so.
The only time in recent years that I HAD to go through the consulate was when I got married: thare was a lady that was dealing with my case - it took three months for her to give me a
"nulla osta". She was usually in her office between two or three hours a day - she was so not clever she even let slip that she was actually home the rest of the day....
But what was really astonishing is that she would take personal calls during her work hours and then chet away for 20/30 minutes like I wasn't even there. MY husband had to take time off work a couple of times to go and see her, only to be sitting there for hours on end while she was on the phone with her friends dicussing movies, making plans for the ebvening, even dictating recipies!
She carried on like it was the most normal thing on earth, unbelievable. If we did that on a normal jub we would eventually get the sack, no?

Posted by: matilde alessandra | January 10, 2008 11:45 AM


As an italian who has lived abroad - LOndon and now Brussels - for the past 20 years I am only too familiar with the gross inefficiencies of our Consulate, in fact it makes me sad to see such waste of public money. I could also cite a few annedoctes, but they are so many that I would be here all day, but suffice to say that after the first traumatic experiences in the past few years I usually take the plane and get my documents done in my Italian hometown, so I feel for my compatriotes that live too far away to do so.
The only time in recent years that I HAD to go through the consulate was when I got married: thare was a lady that was dealing with my case - it took three months for her to give me a
"nulla osta". She was usually in her office between two or three hours a day - she was so not clever she even let slip that she was actually home the rest of the day....
But what was really astonishing is that she would take personal calls during her work hours and then chet away for 20/30 minutes like I wasn't even there. MY husband had to take time off work a couple of times to go and see her, only to be sitting there for hours on end while she was on the phone with her friends dicussing movies, making plans for the ebvening, even dictating recipies!
She carried on like it was the most normal thing on earth, unbelievable. If we did that on a normal jub we would eventually get the sack, no?

Posted by: matilde alessandra | January 10, 2008 11:44 AM


I have only praise for the Italian Consolato in Sydney,last time I got my passport in one hour,I think been a resident my make a big difference,my esperience so far has been positive,I'll remeber to travel overseas with my Australian passaport,you never know if I need any help I'll better stay away from the Italian Embassy,thanks for the informations,Ciao Prince I had hard time to get trough this blog,been reading ,got blocked many times bye

Posted by: Paola Cinquecentesimispesimale | July 31, 2007 12:08 PM


ROMAGNOLI (FI): VOGLIONO ABOLIRE IL CONSOLATO DI ATENE MA NON SANNO CHE SU QUESTO SONO PRONTO A SCATENARE UN INFERNO
ROMA\ aise\ - "Le intenzioni, le decisioni del Ministero degli Esteri, non stanno né in cielo né in terra: dalla sede diplomatica italiana in Atene mi giunge la notizia che il Ministero ha deciso di abolire il Consolato di Atene, unico consolato d’Italia in Grecia, sostituendolo con una Cancelleria Consolare". L’onorevole Massimo Romagnoli manifesta così tutto il proprio disappunto per la decisiona che il Minsitero degli Esteri starebbe per assumere.
"Io mi chiedo come sia possibile", continua il deputato azzurro eletto in Europa, "dopo aver fatto già un danno, chiudendo alcuni anni fa il Consolato generale di Salonicco, che il MAE adesso, quasi ignorando dove stia geograficamente la Grecia, pensi di chiudere un Consolato come quello di Atene, cui sono interessati milioni di nostri connazionali che vanno in vacanza in Grecia; un consolato che è un presidio italiano alla porta d’ingresso per i Balcani ed è sulla strada che unendo l’Italia all’Asia finisce a Costantinopoli; unico consolato in un Paese che è il primo partner commerciale dell’Italia e in cui, cosa da non sottovalutare, operano migliaia e migliaia di imprenditori italiani, facendo onore al nostro Paese".
"Sono davvero curioso di conoscere", aggiunge l’on. Roamgnoli, "quali sono stati i presupposti che inducono il Mae a far diventare cancelleria consolare un consolato di Stato. Eppoi, gli cambiamo solo l’etichetta? E, in questo caso, cosa cambia veramente?".
Della questione, Romagnoli parlerà direttamente con il Vice Ministro per gli Esteri, Franco Danieli, al più tardi domani e, promette, "non farò sconti a nessuno", ed è pronto "su una questione così grave, a scatenare l’inferno".

Posted by: italiano estero grecia | July 31, 2007 08:21 AM


Sorry for writing in Italian, but the Italian blog doesn't work: ancora una volta GRAZIE Beppe, da tutti gli italiani che vivono, hanno vissuto o si trovano temporaneamente all'Estero
(stiamo parlando di milioni di persone! Mentre i pseudogiornalisti asserviti parlano di niente, tu sei quello che mette
ogni giorno il dito nella piaga, parlando di difficoltà e problemi concreti con cui ci dobbiamo scontrare quotidianamente).
Un giorno, per favore, parla anche dell'odissea degli stranieri (anche comunitari, dunque non più stranieri) che devono
avere a che fare con le questure e uffici d'Italia...
Avendo vissuto diversi anni all'Estero, in diversi paesi e viaggiato molto per lavoro o vacanza, posso raccontare qualche
esperienza. Oltretutto mia moglie è belga per cui posso "paragonare" i nostri servizi consolari all'Estero con quelli del suo paese.
1) darei un bel voto al consolato di Madrid. Davvero. Ho avuto diverse esperienze positive, anche se gli orari al pubblico
sono sempre "all'Italiana". Ma sono in generale cortesi, disponibili e comunicano bene e presto per e-mail.
Molte le iniziative anche del comitato, dell'Istituto di cultura e al livello commerciale. Hanno fatto anche un sito internet
e devo dire che non è niente male. Oltretutto hanno molto lavoro con gli italo-sudamericani che per motivi linguistici e non solo,
hanno deciso di usare il passaporto italiano per lavorare e vivere in Spagna;
2) quello che più mi è sembrato inefficiente e inopportuno è l'esistenza di questo fantomatico AIRE. Ovvero il registro
degli italiani all'Estero che si trova in ogni comune. Alla fine è un doppione inutile dei consolati, e nel caso di quello
di Roma ha dei tempi da Impero romano...per trascrivere residenze, cambi di stato civile, nascite, matrimoni, ect...
i tempi sono di almeno 6 mesi. Dopo alcuni mesi che avevo chiesto la residenza a Roma, dovevo sposarmi in Belgio.
Ho chiesto un certificato di nazionalità. Mi hanno mandato al consolato italiano di Bruxelles ad autocertificarmi che ero
italiano... Incredibile, vero?
3) perchè mia moglie che è belga, per cui dipende solo dal suo consolato e non hanno, essendo persone normali e razionali,
questa complicazione dell'AIRE, può chiedere la carta d'identità belga e io sarei dovuto andare all'Aire di Roma?
N.B. L'aire di Roma si trova presso l'Anagrafe. Un palazzone pieno di pratice, con centinaia di uffici semivuoti, dove ti puoi
perdere e portare via quello che vuoi (ci sono stato un paio di volte...uno spettacolo vergognoso);
4) perchè se i concorsi per lavorare nelle ambasciate e consolati all'Estero, sono presentati in tutta Italia, gli impiegati
sono spesso romani, o altrimenti meridionali, quando ci sono milioni di oriundi veneti e friulani, con passaporto italiano,
che farebbero i salti per lavorare nei consolati e nelle ambasciate, e per di più parlerebbero anche la lingua del posto?
con tutto il rispetto per Roma e i romani, ma sono solo il 5% della popolazione...non sarà che Roma è un bel serbatoio
di raccomandati da mettere nei consolati, ambasciate, questure, Alitalia e via dicendo? Se fossi romano, mi vergognerei
di questa disparità, e comunque come italiano, non mi sembra giusto. Anche perchè, lo sappiamo tutti, c'è di tutto dappertutto,
ma quando si mettono insieme solo romani o solo meridionali, si crea un clima di "tira a campà" che porta spesso a una certa inefficienza...
(non che tutti i settentrionali siano molto meglio, anzi...). Magari qualche altoatesino a capo di qualche consolato aiuterebbe
a migliorarne l'efficienza..Ah, dimenticavo, mai votato lega (anzi, nessuna simpatia) e ho anche origini meridionali, per cui
è solo una constatazione, niente di personale.

Posted by: Antonio Lovi | July 30, 2007 02:27 PM


I have lived both in England and in Japan, for a decent period of time, and now I am back living in Florence, my hometown. When in England I can only confirm that the people at the Italian Consulate were really inefficient, but apart from that they never mistreated anyone (I bet you if they were going to do that in England they would probably have to pay for it). I hated that the opening hours were only from 9.30 to 12.30, and if you were queuing they would not process your requests after 12.30, forcing people to come back the day after.

In Japan I had a funny "incident" where basically I lost my passport on a Saturday, I was at the airport ready to check in and of course the carrier staff wouldn`t let me check in. I called the embassy, expecting it to be closed, and infact I was greeted by an answering machine, that gave a mobile phone number for emergencies.
The message was SO BAD that you could hardly understand the number, so I had to call several times and re-listen to the message until the end. When I got the number I called but noone answered. Eventually I found the passport (fortunately I speak Japanese...) but the emergency line not answering really shocked me....

Posted by: Lorenzo Pirisino | July 30, 2007 07:05 AM


CONSOLATO DI BRUXELLES
venerdi 13(e quando senno') a bruxelles mi hanno fregato il portafoglio.Vado
dalla polizia faccio denuncia e quale meraviglia la poliziotta mi mette
davanti il suo telefono e mi dice di chiamare atene per bloccare le carte di
credito e poi di chiamare il consolato(mi da lei il numero).Chiamo il
consolato e risponde una signora a cui racconto il mio caso,e li gia
sfumetta perche' l'ho chiamata e il mio caso non e' urgente.Faccio notare
che sono senza soldi e senza documenti e che il mio aereo parte
lunedi.risposta " si faccia prestare i soldi"li comincio a incazzarmi,le
dico che sono da solo,allora me li possono spedire mi dice.Faccio notare che
il giorno dopo e' sabato,e allora me li possono spedire con la western
union,ma,dico io,con che documenti li ritiro?.insomma buca su tutti i
fronti.Il giorno dopo richiamo e chiedo dato che non trovo nessuno se puo'
aiutarmi,niente da fare,come faro a pagare l'albergo?pregando l'albergatore
di accettare il pagamento sul suo conto bancario al mio ritorno,e per
mangiare?di farmeli prestare da lui,ma almeno mi faranno prendere l'aereo
che parte alle 10e30,dato che il consolato apre alle 9?cerrrrto basta che
sia li' alle 8e45>visto che non si cava un ragno dal buco alle 8e30 di
lunedi sono davanti al consolato con due testimoni,e si dovete sapere che se
non avete un testimone sul documento scrivono il "sedicente".Li' scopri che
ti hanno preso per i fondelli,dato che in ogni caso sarei stato il primo
vista l'ora.Il cartello all'entrata diceva che gli uffici saranno aperti al
pubblico alle 8e45.col cavolo alle 9 gli impiegati erano ancora a prendersi
il caffe',e finalmente alle 9 e 15 arriva l'impiegata per "aiutarmi".La
prima cosa che mi dice e' che il documento che mi rilasceranno e' valido
solo per arrivare in italia.Ma io vivo in grecia e sono iscritto
regolarmente all'aire di atene.Non possono farci niente prendere o
lasciare.Ma dico io a milano senza soldi poi che faccio? ho capito affari
miei.Riesco a farmi dare sta carta e corro all'areoporto,la signora
dell'alitalia mi dice,"anche a lei hanno rubato i documenti? vada vada non
si preoccupi".Ma insomma possibile che alla fine si sono dimostrati piu'
umani i poliziotti e il personale dell'alitatalia che non gli impiegati del
consolato? e se ero con la famiglia,e se non conoscevo le lingue,e se
veramente ero senza soldi e.....ivan

Posted by: ivan pio | July 29, 2007 09:42 PM


----
To "Italian Citizen": probably you could give concrete answers
----

"Concrete" answers? Do you need to build something with concrete?

LOL

LG

Posted by: Lorenzo Gallo | July 29, 2007 03:19 PM


I can say that guy working at the Italian Consulate in Chicago has been great in renewing my passport, 3 years ago.
I expressed my appreciation to him and I wish to all of you Italians abroad to meet somebody like him.
After all, productive people like that guy don't let the work to pile up.

To "Italian Citizen": probably you could give concrete answers to all those people calling you while giving them the name of the idiot that was supposed to do that job. In that case, in case of problems, he would have been blamed.
You just passed a good occasion to have one of those mother....ers grilled for once in a while.

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | July 29, 2007 12:46 AM


what kind of diplomacy do the italian embassy in athens?
the past ambassador cavarai was only an excellent jolly man in the greek fantasiland

Posted by: giuseppe giuseppini | July 28, 2007 07:16 PM


what kind of diplomacy do the italian embassy in athens?
the past ambassador cavarai was only an excellent jolly man in the greek fantasiland

Posted by: giuseppe giuseppini | July 28, 2007 07:16 PM


what kind of diplomacy do the italian embassy in athens?
the past ambassador cavarai was only an excellent jolly man in the greek fantasiland

Posted by: giuseppe giuseppini | July 28, 2007 07:15 PM


I spent three months as a trainee in the embassy in China. I just had to carry out some simple tasks and make translations, after three months I would have left. This was organised by my University. I was given an office within the embassy together with the "official" staff.
I saw people screaming to the Chinese who were queuing for the Visa, treating them like one treats an animal and many other things that it would be immpossible to sum up now.
The embassy had a tel. number of the general reception, from where people's calls were then directed to the relevant offices. I had an office which was empty at the moment but with its own tel. extension. It happened a lot of times that calls were diverted to my office since the people of the relevant offices never replyed! I then had to warn them going into their office and re-direct the call from my office to theirs. Only in this way they would finally reply, only after all those people had passed through me! I was just a trainee and was there bas1cally as a student so I couldn't answer to people's requests or complains, I was not qualified or expected to speak on behalf of the embassy. Twice it happened that the person people were looking for had put his telephone off and was chatting with his friend in his office before a coffee. So he just put the tel. off during his working hours to be free to talk with his friend in relax and for long, and he was very annoyed when I disturbed him saying that there had been someone who had tried for long to reach him on the telephone but couldn't, therefore the call was turned to me and the person was angrily complaining with me for "our" bad service! "Ok just pass the call on my tel", he would say putting the tel. handset back onto its place!
The funny thing is that it was the period of the Sars and people at a certain point started paniking because of the news and the general alarm. So there were several calls to the embassy from parents worried about their children on holiday or studying in China...well, also in this cases many calls were diverted to me by the receptionist, since the others never replyed, and I found myself being asked what were the things one should avoid and the precautions to take in this alarming situation in order to avoid contact with the virus, and should their children go immediately back to Italy? Or could the situation be considered under control so that they could finish their period of stay in China? What would have happened if they contracted the virus? Which situations were more at risk? Now you can image that I had to take the responsibility of answering to these essential and important questions on behalf of the embassy, me being just a student and not a doctor or an official in contact with the relevant authorities...I mean people were asking me whether their children should have left the country immediately...how could have I taken the responsability to say yes or not to them, deciding on their lives without knowing anything about what would have been in these cases the official response by the embassy (and it turned out that it had no official response, depending on who you got on the telephone, you could got completely different answers)?
I could have been blamed to have done something seriously wrong by taking over tasks I was not qualified for and by giving answers on behalf of the embassy I was not part of! And what responsability if things turned to be different from what I maight advice! I mean if I said that the situation was under control and then turned into a high risk, or if I said that they should immediately go back home and then turned to be a low risk situation! But at the same time, how could I say to these people: "Sorry you got the wrong person after hours yo have been trying getting someone from the embassy, so try to tell the receptionist to divert your call to someone else who is qualified to answer to your questions???" They would have never got a reply I am sure.
It was NOT my task to answer the telephone or to have contacts with the Italians needing information but nobody else seemed to care about their needs...instead, they started to have meetings to discuss, among the other things, whether it was the case or not to ask the authorities in Rome to send special air forces (I mean to have special flights available or even special airplanes!) so that if there was an emergency situation with the progress of Sars, they were guaranteed their rapid and safe return back to their country!
I decided that working in an embassy was not among my aspirations at all!
On the other hand, it is fair to spend a word on the bad conditions (in terms of organisation, facilities available, and the rapidity and clarity of responses and directions from Rome) and under-staffed situation people working in the embassy were faced with...which does not justify the single behaviours I described but highly penalised and frustrated who was responsibly doing his job and indicates that yet the problem is also in the headquater, our motherland and its inefficient system...

Posted by: Italian citizen | July 28, 2007 05:21 PM


Hello there,
I appreciate Mr. Grillo attempt in exposing Italian inefficiencies’ and incompetence, although like in any other activities, especially Public the example, always comes from the top.

Therefore just look at the Top examples, you must imagine the bottom have to be worst!

The joke of the day around the world is the latest Retirement Law, each and every Country is extending the years for the working class so it will be sustainable for every one, Italy goes the other way.

Just to demonstrate how Idiots they are Mr. Padoa Schioppa is 67, Mr. Napolitano is 82 Mr. Prodi is 69, these geriatric Idiots are telling everyone to retire while they are having to much fun and making to much money to drop dead!

Just read the Economist, another perfect example of what the world think of Italian Ruling Class.
Thanks

Posted by: Giacomo Chiametti | July 28, 2007 05:05 PM


I confirm. I am Italian and I am leaving in Moscow.

I have a Russian girlfriend and every time that I have to make a visa for her I go myself to the embassy because I don't want her to stay queue to long or to be mistreated....

Last time the was an Italian police guy very bully and arrogant.

As an Italian I feel ashamed of our Italian embassy organization and personnel.

Turism in Italy is a big business, and every Russian coming Italy needs to have the best welcome instead of this.


Posted by: Daniele C | July 28, 2007 05:01 PM


My experience with Italian consulates in different country has been horrible--until I knew someone in there...

When you know someone in there, it is a completely different story. Rules are "tailor-made", Italian way. Easy for friends. Frustratingly inefficient and exasperatingly expensive for all others.

That´s Italy. Whether at home, or abroad.

Posted by: Francesco Desi | July 28, 2007 03:41 PM


the guys at the consulate in hamburg are rather helpful, but the honorary consul here is a mean old hag.
she wouldn't let me vote some years ago, just because she did not know the rules for voting (you have to show your voters card and some kind of id, it does not have to be an italian passport).
but fortunately i don't have to deal with the consulate very often.

Posted by: nina corda | July 28, 2007 10:44 AM


I was in Turkey for holiday in August 1994.
We heard someone saying that there was cholera's risk so we went to the Italian embassy to ask for more information.
They were closed for holiday for two weeks...in August!
When I was living in London I wasted 4 working days to get my I.D. card renewed, I needed it to go back to Italy.
It toke me 6 weeks to get it, and I got it only after protesting and arguing with the staff who seemed only able to blame someone else in Italy who wasn't able to send the document on time.
When I went to renew my passport two years ago in Dublin, I asked if it was possible to have it in 3 weeks.
I wanted to join a friend for a holiday in Mexico.
I was told that there was noway to get it in only 3 weeeks, especially because Brescia's office( my city) was one of the slowest to deliver a document.
I let my documentation and I forgot about the holiday.
I went back to the embassy after 7 months by chance with a friend who needed a passport and someone of the staff recognized me and told me my passport was ready.
I even forgot about it, since I didn't really needed it anymore, but what really surprised me was the fact that they had it ready only 15 days after I've asked for...I could have gone to Mexico, but they never called me to let me know it was there!
What can I say...every time I have to go in an embassy I feel like I'm wasting my time...
Once I heard one of the staff members saying "I'm so stressed!"
Maybe she has never been waiting for hours in a f****n noisy, dirty, disorganized, awful place only to get a document!
I would like to think those people got the job by merit...
But I can't!

I'm not surprise, people working there are the real picture of how bureaucracy works!

Posted by: alberto mena | July 28, 2007 04:17 AM


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