On the following pages we would like to introduce you to the subject of protocol and representation of the state and give you an opportunity to find out more.
Protocol is far more than the legendary “red carpet”, armoured limousines and sometimes unavoidable traffic chaos resulting from police roadblocks.
State protocol encompasses all the ceremonial rules and activities that shape official and representative occasions.
It creates the setting for events such as
- state visits
- national and international conferences
- commemorative events
- state ceremonies and jubilees
- official mourning ceremonies and state funerals
- changes in office, farewell ceremonies and the awarding of decorations
- receptions, banquets and official meals
Rules of protocol make up a kind of international “sign language”. Following these rules, for example during state visits, clearly indicates the rank and importance of the guest as well as the political intentions of the host.
Proper protocol thus helps further political interests and create the appropriate atmosphere for talks and negotiations.
Protocol duties arise not only in the area of international relations but also in the area of domestic affairs. They include organizing how the state is represented at official celebrations, on state occasions and days of remembrance; the correct and appropriate form for official visits, talks and negotiations; public appearances by leading representatives of the state; and specific details such as the correct form of address for a guest, the seating of a guest at talks or at a meal, and the selection of a suitable official gift.
In short, protocol means observing certain formalities that – just as in private life – help us interact with each other.
Important elements of state protocol and state representation include
- the use of national symbols (flag, coat of arms, national anthem)
- the presence of top-level public officials on certain occasions and at certain functions
- the observation of certain customary formalities, for example during state visits (such as reviewing a military guard of honour or providing a motorcycle escort)
- attention to history, culture and business when organizing official celebrations or visit itineraries
The Federal Government’s Protocol Office at the Federal Ministry of the Interior is responsible for protocol duties related to state occasions and national days of commemoration. Information on protocol for international functions and occasions is available on the website of the Federal Foreign Ministry.