Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for September 8, 2022

Newsline: Switzerland summons China’s ambassador

Switzerland has summoned the Chinese ambassador to express concern about the human rights situation in the western region of Xinjiang, the foreign ministry in Bern said on Thursday. “Switzerland is convinced that the best way to safeguard its interests and the respect of fundamental rights is to conduct a critical and constructive dialogue with Beijing,” the ministry said, confirming a report by the SDA news agency. (https://news.yahoo.com/swiss-summon-chinese-ambassador-press-072938280.html) The ministry cited a report last week by the United Nations human rights commissioner that China’s “arbitrary and discriminatory detention” of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity. China’s foreign ministry has denied the allegations and described the U.N. report as “completely illegal and void”. The Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Neutral Switzerland has walked a diplomatic tightrope with Beijing, playing down prospects for embracing Western sanctions against China over its human rights record as Bern pursues a “special path” with a major trade partner.

Newsline: Russia expels Romanian diplomat

Russia said on Thursday it was ordering a Romanian diplomat to leave the country in response to the expulsion of one of its diplomats from Bucharest. (https://uk.investing.com/news/world-news/russia-expels-romanian-diplomat-in-titfortat-move-2744778) Romania, like other European Union member states, was designated an “unfriendly country” by Moscow after it imposed sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s war in Ukraine. Earlier this year, Russia and EU countries expelled hundreds of each other’s diplomats.

Newsline: UN chief taps Austrian diplomat as next rights chief

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has tapped the Austrian diplomat Volker Turk to be the next High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to a document sent Thursday to the General Assembly, which must approve the choice. The UN veteran would replace Michelle Bachelet, the former Chilean president who was appointed four years ago with the specific intent of having a powerful female politician in the role. “The secretary-general proposes to appoint Mr. Volker Turk (Austria) as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Guterres wrote, in a letter seen by AFP. “The secretary-general trusts that the General Assembly will approve this appointment.” (https://www.msn.com/en-ph/news/world/un-chief-taps-volker-turk-as-next-rights-chief/ar-AA11BxmQ) Multiple sources said that Guterres had notified UN member states late on Wednesday that he wants Turk, who is currently serving as assistant secretary general for policy, in the challenging role. The General Assembly was expected to address the matter during a meeting later on Thursday or Friday, diplomatic sources said. The 57-year-old Turk has spent most of his career within the UN system, with a particular focus on refugee questions. He worked closely with Guterres back when the latter headed the UN refugee agency. Turk represented UNHCR in Malaysia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina before being assigned to the headquarters.

Newsline: Closed Iranian embassy in Albania searched

Albanian counter-terrorism police searched the empty Iranian embassy in Tirana on Thursday, hours after Iranian diplomats burned papers inside the premises following the severing of diplomatic ties over a cyberattack. The police, wearing masks and helmets and carrying automatic rifles, entered the building – situated just 200 metres from Rama’s office – after two cars with diplomatic plates had left, a Reuters reporter saw. Thirty minutes later, the police were still inside. The same reporter earlier saw a man inside the embassy throwing papers into a rusty barrel, with flames illuminating the walls of the three-story building. (https://news.yahoo.com/iranian-diplomats-burn-documents-hours-045305764.html) Albania cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday, when Prime Minister Edi Rama blamed the cyberattack, which took place in July, on the Islamic Republic, and gave its diplomats 24 hours to close the embassy and leave the country.