Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 1, 2022

Newsline: Russian Envoy To Bulgaria To Ask Moscow To Shut Embassy After Mass Expulsions

Russia’s ambassador to Bulgaria said on Friday she would ask Moscow to close its embassy in the Balkan country after her appeal for Sofia to reverse what she called an unprecedented hostile step to expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff was ignored. In a statement addressed to the Bulgarian people, the ambassador, Eleonora Mitrofanova, said the closure of the Russian embassy would inevitably lead to the closure of Bulgaria’s embassy in Moscow too. Mitrofanova on Thursday told Sofia to reverse its decision by midday on Friday or face the prospect of Moscow ending its physical diplomatic presence in Bulgaria altogether. Petkov earlier on Friday rejected her ultimatum. “Unfortunately our appeal to Bulgaria’s ministry of foreign affairs was ignored,” Mitrofanova wrote in a statement. “I intend to quickly put the question of the closure of Russia’s embassy in Bulgaria before my country’s leadership, which will inevitably mean the closure of the Bulgarian diplomatic mission in Moscow,” she wrote. (https://www.ibtimes.com/russian-envoy-bulgaria-ask-moscow-shut-embassy-after-mass-expulsions-3559346) In Moscow, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the Russian foreign ministry would study the embassy closure idea and report to President Vladimir Putin if necessary.

Newsline: Career diplomat named Philippines’ new Foreign Secretary

Newly-appointed Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos swore in career diplomat Luis Enrique Manalo as the country’s new Foreign Secretary on Friday. Before his appointment, Manalo, 69, was the permanent Philippine representative to the UN, reports Xinhua news agency. (https://in.investing.com/news/career-diplomat-named-philippines-new-foreign-secy-3259965) He previously served as undersecretary for policy at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and also acted as acting Foreign Secretary during the former Rodrigo Duterte administration. Having been working with the DFA since 1979, Manalo has a seasoned career, serving as ambassador in various countries and international organisations, including the UK and the European Union.

Newsline: China’s embassy accuses New Zealand of ‘misguided’ accusations

China’s embassy accused New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday of making “wrong and thus regrettable” statements that were unhelpful for keeping the two countries’ relationship “on the right track”. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/china-accuses-new-zealand-of-misguided-accusations/ar-AAZ3uG8) Ardern attended the NATO leaders’ summit in Spain this week, saying in a speech Wednesday that China had become “more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms”. The Chinese embassy in Wellington hit back Friday that it had taken note of Ardern’s “misguided” accusations. “That allegation is wrong and thus regrettable,” the embassy said in a statement posted on its website. It is the second time in a month that China has taken issue with comments by Ardern.

Newsline: Bulgaria urges Russia to withdraw diplomatic ultimatum with embassy closure threat

Bulgaria’s outgoing prime minister on Thursday called on Russia to withdraw a diplomatic ultimatum sent after Sofia expelled 70 Russian diplomatic staff which included a threat to close Russia’s embassy in the Balkan nation. Bulgaria, an EU and NATO member, said on Tuesday it was expelling 70 Russian diplomatic staff over espionage concerns and had set a cap on the size of Moscow’s representation as tensions between the two once-close countries fractured over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The move, announced by the foreign ministry and Kiril Petkov, the outgoing prime minister, was the largest expulsion of Russian diplomats by Sofia in recent years and would more than half the size of Moscow’s diplomatic footprint in Bulgaria if it goes ahead. In a diplomatic note seen by Reuters, the Russian embassy on Thursday told Sofia to reverse the expulsions decision by midday on Friday. If it did not, the embassy said it would ask Moscow to consider ending Russia’s physical diplomatic presence in Bulgaria altogether. Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova, who has called the Bulgarian expulsions an “unprecedented hostile step,” was not available for comment. (https://news.yahoo.com/bulgaria-urges-russia-withdraw-diplomatic-175630565.html) Petkov in a statement urged Russia to keep diplomatic channels between Moscow and Sofia open despite the expulsions which he said would still leave Russia with 43 diplomatic staff versus only 12 for Bulgaria in Moscow.