Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 20, 2022

Newsline: Moscow warns of response following Romania’s expulsion of Russian diplomat

Moscow will respond proportionately to Bucharest’s decision to declare a Russian diplomat persona non grata, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Saturday. “Obviously, we will respond proportionately to Romania’s move, ” the senior Russian diplomat warned. Bucharest’s move is “the latest provocation, carried out according to the scenario that has been repeatedly used in an overwhelming majority of EU and NATO member countries in recent months,” she said. (https://tass.com/politics/1496245) On Friday, the Romanian Foreign Ministry announced the country’s decision to expel an employee of the Russian embassy in Bucharest. The diplomat left Romania earlier this week, the ministry said. In early April, Romania declared 10 employees of the Russian embassy in Bucharest personae non gratae. In response, Moscow declared 10 employees of the Romanian embassy in Russia personae non gratae on May 13.

Newsline: Argentina’s ambassador in Venezuela slams ‘hijacking’ of aircraft by courts

Argentina’s ambassador to Venezuela Oscar Laborde has hit out at the local courts over its decision to detain the Emtrasur aircraft held at Argentina’s Ezeiza Airport at the request of the United States, describing it as a plot to “harm” the relationship between Caracas and Buenos Aires. “There is a feeling of injustice in the Venezuelan people. There is clearly an intention on the part of the courts and many people are suffering from it,” said the envoy, referring to the plane held at Ezeiza since June 8 along with its 19 crew members, of whom five are Iranian citizens. Laborde went on to declare that the aircraft “is confiscated because the judge has so determined without apparently finding anything to reproach” the crew members still being held in this country. He later described the move as a “hijacking.” (https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/argentinas-ambassador-in-venezuela-slams-hijacking-of-aircraft-by-courts.phtml) The comments, delivered this week during an interview with the local AM750 radio station, prompted a wave of condemnation from the opposition, which accused the envoy of backing the “illegitimate” government led by Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro.

Newsline: Ukraine makes bid for Russian embassy land in Canberra after lease terminated

Ukraine is looking to snap up a plot of land in Canberra that is potentially available after the National Capital Authority terminated the Russian embassy’s lease. The NCA said this week it cancelled the lease because of its “use it or lose it” policy. More than a decade since Russia’s building plans were approved, construction has failed to progress. The capital authority gave Russia 20 days to vacate the property. Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, now wants to move on the site in Yarralumla for his country’s embassy. Myroshnychenko said on Friday that once he received approval from his government, he would make a formal application to the NCA. “The Ukrainian government is renting an office space in a building for the embassy, and I don’t have a residence, we’ve just rented a small townhouse,” the ambassador told ABC radio. “That would be very nice, if we could get that plot of land.” (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/aug/19/ukraine-eyeing-embassy-land-after-canberra-authority-terminates-russias-lease) The unfinished Russian works, the NCA said, were an eyesore. The Russian embassy in response said it was obtaining legal advice about the decision.

Newsline: US Ambassador warns China against ‘manufactured crisis’ in Taiwan Strait

China needs to convince the rest of the world it is not an “agent of instability” and will act peacefully in the Taiwan Strait, US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said in his first TV interview since taking up his post in Beijing six months ago. Burns spoke candidly about Beijing’s reaction to a visit by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan earlier this month, to which China responded by launching extensive military drills around the self-governing island and suspending key diplomatic communications with the US. “We do not believe there should be a crisis in US-China relations over the visit — the peaceful visit — of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to Taiwan … it was a manufactured crisis by the government in Beijing. It was an overreaction,” Burns told CNN Friday from the US Embassy. It is now “incumbent upon the government here in Beijing to convince the rest of the world that it will act peacefully in the future,” the ambassador said. “I think there’s a lot of concern around the world that China has now become an agent of instability in the Taiwan Strait and that’s not in anyone’s interest.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/19/china/us-ambassador-nicholas-burns-interview-china-intl-hnk/index.html) Burns, a career diplomat and former US ambassador to NATO, arrived in Beijing in March to take up what is arguably the US’ most important diplomatic posting — navigating US-China ties already strained by tensions over a range of issues including China’s human rights record, trade practices and military expansion in the South China Sea.