Interview: Cape Verde Honorary Consul
The newly appointed Honorary Consul to Cape Verde in London has received the signed document from the Capeverdean authorities authorising him to start a mandate.
In his first interview, 59 years old Jonathan Lux, an international shipping lawyer by profession, explains a bit more about his position and the work that he expects to be able to do for the country:
Filomena Furtado: When were you appointed Honorary Consul for the Cape Verde Islands in London?
Jonathan Lux: It is quite recent, I can’t give you the exact day. I received news of the appointment a few months ago and I received the ‘Carta Patente’ just a few weeks ago. Carta Patente is the document signed by the President authorising me to act as the honorary consul here in London.
Filomena Furtado: Your title says Honorary Consul of Cape Verde in London, is it because you are based in London or are you representing just within London?
Jonathan Lux: My appointment relates to London, I don’t know whether the intention is to look at elsewhere in the UK.
Filomena Furtado: Did you officially start a couple of weeks ago?
Jonathan Lux: Lets say for sure that the appointment is now in place, the documents I received [from the Capeverdean government] don’t state a start or stop date.
Filomena Furtado: Can you give us an overview of what the job of the honorary Consul of Cape Verde in London entails?
Jonathan Lux: It is obviously to acquaint English people, who are interested, with the possibilities in Cape Verde. and it would be to assist Capeverdeans in London who have issues here.Then more widely investment possibilities for, for example, British interests in Cape Verde, projects that might work more generally for the benefit of Cape Verde. For example at the moment there is a lot of focus in renewable energy, there are wind farms, solar energy, and that is important because obviously traditional sources of energy are, a) expensive and b) dying out, so efforts to go into renewable energy most countries agree is a good thing.
Also Cape Verde obviously is a number of islands and there are prospects for inter-island shipping service and to make Cape Verde itself into an attractive offshore shipping registry. It could work to the benefit of the islands economically and from other points of view as well. So there is a lot of potential there.
Filomena Furtado: In terms of your appointment, how did it come about, in what context?
Jonathan Lux: I set up my law firms offices in Germany nearly ten years ago now. Once I was living in Germany I became friendly with the owner of cruise Vessel Company and he is the honorary consul to Cape Verde in Hamburg. We discussed over the period that I was in German, in indeed subsequently, some of the possibilities that there are to, let’s say, revitalise the Capeverdean economy with some of the shipping ideas that we had.Now he is a ship owner, I am shipping lawyer, so, we saw an advantage in having a shipping lawyer such as myself associated with this project and he was the one to initially suggest to me that it would be worthwhile to go this route.
Filomena Furtado: Did you then put in an application for the position, how did the process work?
Jonathan Lux: I think that the honorary consul in Hamburg, while I was living in Germany, introduced me to the Capeverdean ambassador in Berlin and the ambassador in Berlin, who by the way I think now has moved to Madrid and set up the first Capeverdean embassy in Madrid, he I think found our ideas rather interesting and he took up the process of setting this in motion.
Filomena Furtado: How long did that whole process take?
Jonathan Lux: The process makes it sound maybe more official than it was because initially it was a question of just discussing ideas… but the discussions probably go back a year or so, maybe slightly longer…
Filomena Furtado: In terms of the local community of Capeverdeans living in London, are you someone who they will be able to come to with issues relating to personal problems or maybe projects that they may have?
Jonathan Lux: It is… how can I put it, it is a work in progress in the sense that, as I explained, I had quite specific ideas in relation to shipping but obviously the responsibilities of a consul go wider than that… and because I am new to this, I am not a career diplomat, I am a lawyer, I have told the Capeverdean authorities that they will have to: a) specify the tasks that they would like me undertake here in London and b) it would be best if they could give me full briefing and training to carry out those tasks efficiently.
At the moment, because all this is quite new, it would take time to, if you like, establish the consulate so that one is there. At the moment I haven’t prepared the paperwork, the stamps… My intention is to visit Cape Verde at an early opportunity and I am hoping that whilst I am out there one of the top things on the agenda will be to establish the mandate that they want to give me, briefings for each of the items on the agenda and training, most importantly training to be able to deal with each of the items.
Now, of course there are elections coming up next year in Cape Verde, which makes the timing a bit complicated and I would hope, and of course I must organize this trip in conjunction with the authorities there so that I can meet all the relevant people. So we will require a bit of organisation but I am hoping that within next year I will have visited Cape Verde, I will have been briefed and received training on what tasks I would I am to undertake and how those are to be carried on.
Filomena Furtado: Would that information then be passed on?
Jonathan Lux: Of course then it will be sensible of course to tell those who are interested that there is a consul here who is able to undertake certain tasks. At the moment I have to move very cautiously because the last thing I want to do is undertake takes which the Capeverdean authorities say ‘wait a second, what is this all about’. So I want to first of all meet those responsible, to meet the relevant authorities and secondly that we together define all the tasks that I can usefully carry out and then it of course makes sense to communicate.
Filomena Furtado: Do you think that then the authorities might think about an official introduction of you as the honorary consul or is that something that might be an able of something to do in the future?
Jonathan Lux: Obviously this is to serve their purposes, not my purposes and I have to define in discussion with the authorities what it is that they want and indeed whether I have the possibility to do the different things that they want. They may have some requirements that I can’t meet and one would then have to discuss how those particular requirements can be met if not by myself.
Filomena Furtado: Have you ever been to Cape Verde?
Jonathan Lux: This will be my first visit. It was due to take place at the end of this year but it is not ideal with the elections and everyone has got their minds in, you know, other matters now. So it seemed to make better sense to differ the visit until a time when it is easier for those I need to meet to give me their attention.
Filomena Furtado: Did you have any prior connection to the Cape Verde Islands before meeting the people in Germany?
Jonathan Lux: That was really the first introduction…given what has happened since it was very nice and I am very happy that the introduction took place.
Filomena Furtado: For you personally, what do you expect from this appointment, both in terms of, how you can help Cape Verde and how Cape Verde can help you, as this seems to be a process that works both ways when you are an honorary consul?
Jonathan Lux: Well primarily it should work for the benefit of Cape Verde. Cape Verde seems, to me as an outsider and not having yet visited, something of a model for good governance and it strikes me as well run. I have seen Pan-African lead tables and I have seen that Cape Verde is right up at the top for good governance and that is very important because once you have got regulatory and economic stability that is the best basis for any economic development. As I said there seems to be great potential, renewable energy is a great things, I know that tourism seems to be very much on the increase with Cape Verde becoming a more popular destination. And as I said before I think that particularly in shipping, the origins of Cape Verde between the continents, I think there is great potential for Cape Verde as a shipping centre, an off-shore shipping centre, because some of the traditional shipping centres in Europe are now part of the European Union which makes them perhaps from a tax point of view less attractive than they used to be, places like Cyprus and Malta, and so that is a particular focus because it accords with my expertise and certainly the consulate in Hamburg thought that the country might benefit from having someone with my expertise involved.
But having seen what I have seen subsequently I hope that it would go much further than certainly just the shipping side.
Filomena Furtado: Do you at the moment hold any investments in the Cape Verde Islands?
Jonathan Lux: No. No I haven’t invested, I think that there is no reason in principle not to except that one would have to make sure that it is entirely transparent so that no one is going to suggest that no one is benefitting from a position. But no I haven’t invested.
Filomena Furtado: Have you met anyone from the Capeverdean community in London?
Jonathan Lux: Well, it is as I have indicated pretty much at the beginning, I have been in touch with one or two people, I have not yet been able to meet anyone. Of course I will be trying as I go forward to meet with members of the community and indeed to participate in events that are being held.