V-Day in the world

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I’m publishing the response to the post “Ambassador - don't take it out on me!” that I have received from the head of the press office at the Farnesina {Ministry of Foreign Affairs}. I can’t discuss the details of the response. Perhaps signor Merola would like to do that by writing a comment to this post. I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For a few days we've had a map of Italy showing the Italian cities where 8 September will see the collection of signatures for the Clean Parliament popular initiative. New ones are added each day. From today I’m also publishing the foreign cities supporting V-day with leafleting (for the moment in English, Spanish and Italian) in front of our Embassies. I am also asking the Ambassadors starting with Surdo in Moscow to join with us.
Well, I’m on holiday, and when people recognise me they greet me with the V sign. V-day – V-day – V-day.

“I’m replying to what has been written by Sig. Michele Merola.

It is not true that there are only Russian employees in the Consular Offices of the Italian Embassy in Moscow. At the service desks and in all the offices there are Italian personnel, employees and contract workers who are Italian and Russian: the latter are perfectly capable of expressing themselves in correct and understandable Italian. At the service desk there are photocopied forms giving the list of documents that are needed for each type of request: this list is also shown on the notice board on the inside and the outside of the Consular Offices and it can also be seen on the website of the Farnesina.
It is not true that the employees – constantly supervised by the official in charge of the Consular Offices – go away and close the service desk. They can among other things go away for brief breaks according to the law (law 626/94, article 54, comma 1), as well as for the lunch break, as laid down in the contract ,between the hours of 1 pm and 2pm. However the work load at the service desk is sometimes so heavy that the employees are often prevented from taking their breaks.
The opening and closing hours of the Consular Offices are shown outside the building and they can be seen on the website. The hours are also mentioned on the recorded message that is heard on the telephone when the Consular Offices’ only telephone operator cannot respond to a call. Up until 30 June of this year, the time between presenting documents and the issue of a visa has been 2 working days; following the bilateral agreement on visas between Russia and the European Union that came into effect on 1 July that has gone up to 3 days. If there is a documented emergency, a visa can be issued in a shorter time on the payment of a surtax of 35 euro (as laid out in the law) in addition to the normal payment of 35 euro (that also is laid down in the law).
If a visa is refused, the passport is effectively held for the time needed to execute the denial procedure. The start of that procedure can be not in context and it can be postponed when it is necessary to deal with urgent cases of those who have to receive their visa before their departure dates. In other words, because of the limited number of personnel, it can in effect take a week – but no longer – for a passport to be handed back to a person who has been refused a visa.
The Consular Office has always given help, going well beyond the working hours when it is necessary, to Italian citizens who have had their passport or other documents stolen: it would be enough to consult the printouts of the start and finish times of the personnel to see that. The Social Affairs office of the Consulate has constantly responded to requests for intervention and assistance, even tackling – without seasonal reinforcements – the increase in work resulting from the greater flow of Italian tourists in the summer.
As regards the welcoming of Russian citizens in the Consular Offices, neither the Carabinieri who take care of the internal security, nor the Russian guards outside the building are equipped with cudgels.
As regards the custody of objects in the possession of the public when they come inside the Consular Offices (cameras, videocameras, or anything that could be a potential weapon) these are looked after by the Russian guards, for obvious reasons of security, and they are given back on exit. Mobile phones are not taken by the security personnel, but the public are asked to turn off their mobile phones that they keep in their possession all the time. Finally, whoever comes into the building, whether they are Russian or Italian, is free to exit and come back in at any time.
If Sig. Merola had bothered to ask for information, he would have discovered that the Consular Offices of the Embassy in Moscow issues almost 300,000 visas a year (the highest number of the whole consular network abroad and – much higher than any other Consulate in Moscow), with enormous benefits not just for the coffers of the State, but also for our business world (beyond the tourism sector).
This activity is carried out at the expense of great sacrifices from all the personnel, both Russian and Italian. The inadequacy of the number of staff in fact makes it necessary for the work of the office to continue into the late evening, as is well known to the Italian community (some of whose representatives have taken part in the discussion), as it is known to the public and to the local authorities who have often had the opportunity to praise the efficiency of our organisation (even in comparison with other countries who have superior resources).
The heavy commitment asked of the Visa office anyway does not prevent the Consulate from giving every attention, without a limit of hours, to the solution of the problems that our nationals can encounter while they are passing through Moscow. Since I have been directing this Embassy I have received one (I say one) single protest, that was resolved with the presentation of an apology from the person concerned when he was supplied with all the necessary explanations about the origin of the difficulty he was protesting about. “
Vittorio Surdo, Italian Ambassador in Moscow.
Moscow, 1 August 2007

V-day:
1. Support V-day
2. Participate in V-day
3. Put your photos on www.flickr.com with the tag Vaffa-day
4. Put your videos on www.youtube.it with the tag Vaffa-day
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Posted by Beppe Grillo at 09:47 AM in | Comments (2)
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Comments

Mr. Surdo
Before giving this answer you should investigate this problem and perhaps talk to several individuals, including Mr. Merola, to try to find out why this issue has been brought to this blog.
This looks like you are protecting your colleagues without really looking for the root cause.
Can you tell us more?

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | August 18, 2007 06:10 PM


Thanks for the information.

Posted by: John | August 16, 2007 03:06 PM


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