Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for December, 2022

Newsline: Israel’s ambassador to France resigns

A group of more than 100 Israeli diplomats have written to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing concern about his new government’s proposed policies, while Israel’s ambassador to France resigned in a similar act of protest. The group letter expressed “profound concern at the serious damage to Israel’s foreign relations, its international standing and its core interests abroad” if Netanyahu’s plans proceed as expected. Signatories included Nimrod Barkan, who served as ambassador to Canada under the last Netanyahu-led government; Jeremy Issacharoff, Israel’s ambassador to Germany; Pini Avivi, former ambassador to Turkey; Colette Avital, a former Labor politician and veteran diplomat; and Avi Gil, former director general of ministry of foreign affairs. The group warned that “expected changes in Israeli policy in Judea-Samaria/the West Bank” along with “extreme and discriminatory laws” targeting minorities in Israel and other policies would not only harm the country’s democratic values but could also harm relations with the U.S., disrupt the Abraham Accords and even hurt investment in Israel. (https://forward.com/fast-forward/530215/israel-ambassador-france-yael-german-resigns-netanyahu-government/) Yael German, the ambassador to France, wrote in her letter: “The statements of the ministers in your government and the intentions of their legislation go against my conscience, my worldview, and the underlying promises of the declaration of independence of a Jewish and democratic state.” The letter, which she posted to Twitter on Thursday, was written in Hebrew and translated by the Forward.

Newsline: Former Libyan embassy official in Czech Republic arrested for corruption

The Public Prosecutor has ordered the former Chargé d’Affairs of the Libyan mission to the Czech Republic to be placed in custody pending investigation. (https://libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/former-official-libyan-embassy-czech-arrested-corruption) The former official at the Libyan Embassy in the Czech Republic is facing charges of misusing the powers of his position to gain illegal benefits. A statement by the Attorney General said the former diplomat spent hundreds of thousands of foreign exchange in violation of the rules and regulations for managing public money, which caused significant damage to public funds.

Newsline: UAE extends visa ban on Pakistan

In what comes as another embarrassment for Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where a large number of Pakistanis migrate for work opportunities, has now extended an existing travel ban to 24 cities of Pakistan. The visa ban was earlier on 22 cities, and it has now been increased to 24, East Coast Daily reported. The UAE government had to resort to this action in order to curb the menace of begging on the streets of UAE. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/uae-extends-visa-ban-on-pakistan-embarrassed-pakistan-says-no-visa-ban-in-place/) It was noted that a large number of migrants from these Pakistani cities, who visit the UAE for work, ultimately end up begging on the streets when they fail to find employment. This increases the workload of the UAE administration, as begging is a crime in Dubai and the people are strictly ordered to not entertain beggars. Most of the migrant workers from Pakistan are deceived by agents who send them to UAE on a visit visa, while telling them that they were being sent on a work visa.

Newsline: Russian ambassador, Indian politician spar over oligarch’s death

Russia’s top diplomat in New Delhi traded barbs with a senior Indian politician on Twitter late on Thursday over the death of a Russian tycoon once reportedly critical of the Ukraine war, in a rare public spat involving Moscow and a country it views as a friend. Pavel Antov, a billionaire sausage magnate, was found dead outside his hotel in the eastern Indian state of Odisha last weekend. Indian police are investigating the death, which followed two days after another person travelling with Antov died. On Thursday, Manish Tewari, a former Indian minister belonging to the opposition Indian National Congress party questioned why the bodies of the two men had been cremated when they were Christians. “Hercule Poirot says burnt bodies tell no tales,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to Agatha Christie’s famous fictional Belgian detective. Russian ambassador to India Denis Alipov was quick to respond, also on the social media platform. The diplomat thanked Indian officials for the probe into the deaths, but then hit out at Tiwari. “Meanwhile it would be useful for some Hercule Poirot lovers to learn that cremation in Russia is as customary as burial,” he wrote. “Idleness is the root of all evil.” (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/30/russian-diplomat-indian-politician-spar-over-oligarchs-death) Tewari later tweeted back, seemingly unconvinced. Meanwhile, the Indian ministry of external affairs said on Thursday it would let the police carry out their investigations and did not want to “jump the gun” on possible causes for Antov’s death.

Newsline: China’s ambassador to US appointed as new foreign minister

China has appointed Qin Gang, a trusted aide of President Xi Jinping, as its new foreign minister, state radio reported on Friday. (https://neuters.de/world/china/china-appoints-qin-gang-new-foreign-minister-state-radio-2022-12-30/) Qin, 56, and currently China’s ambassador to the United States, replaces Wang Yi, who has been foreign minister for the past decade. Wang, 69, was promoted to the politburo of the Chinese Communist Party in October and is expected to play a bigger role in foreign policy. A rising star in the foreign ministry, Qin rose through various positions including as the ministry’s spokesman and postings at the Chinese embassy in Britain. He served as Xi’s chief protocol officer between 2014 and 2018. Following his appointment, Qin will return to Beijing from Washington after 17 months as China’s 11th ambassador to the United States.

Newsline: Belarus summons Ukraine ambassador over stray missile

Belarus has protested to Ukraine’s ambassador after saying it had downed a Ukrainian S-300 air defence missile in a field. The Ukrainian ambassador was summoned to the foreign ministry in Minsk to receive a formal protest. “The Belarusian side views this incident as extremely serious,” Anatoly Glaz, a spokesman for the ministry, said. “We demanded that the Ukrainian side conduct a thorough investigation … [and] hold those responsible to account and take comprehensive measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future.” (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/29/belarus-summons-ukraine-envoy-over-stray-air-defence-missile) The military commissar of Belarus’s southwestern region of Brest, Oleg Konovalov, played Thursday’s incident down in a video posted on social media by the state-run BelTA news agency, saying locals had “absolutely nothing to worry about”. Konovalov compared the incident to one in November, when an S-300 believed to have strayed after being fired by Ukrainian air defences landed on the territory of NATO-member Poland, triggering fears of an escalation that were rapidly defused.

Newsline: Some U.S. Ambassador Posts Remain Unfilled

President Biden is set to enter the third year of his presidency with more than two dozen ambassador slots unfilled, including vacancies in the strategically important countries of India and Saudi Arabia, despite a late surge of confirmations this past month. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/bidens-picks-for-some-ambassador-posts-remain-stalled-11672242409) The White House is on track to have more top foreign representatives in place than former President Donald Trump did at this point in his term, but fewer than former presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama. Leaving posts open could reduce U.S. influence and make it more difficult for the president to put his stamp on foreign policy, at a moment when countries increasingly feel pressure to pick sides in the intensifying rivalry between the U.S. and China.

Newsline: Bulgaria summons Russia’s ambassador

Bulgaria protested to Russia on Thursday for putting Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev on a wanted list, with its prime minister criticising the move as an intimidatory tactic designed to muzzle free speech. The foreign ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador to Sofia, Eleonora Mitrofanova, to deliver the protest. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/bulgaria-summons-russian-envoy-over-bellingcat-journalist-grozev-2022-12-29/) Grozev, chief investigator on Russia for the Bellingcat news outlet, is “wanted under an article of the Criminal Code,” according to information published on Russia’s interior ministry website this week. Interim PM Galab Donev said Bulgaria would demand full information from Russia on why Grozev had been put on the list. “This act is unacceptable. It represents an attack on freedom of speech and an attempt to intimidate a Bulgarian citizen,” Donev told reporters. Grozev has angered Moscow with investigations into the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and the downing of the MH17 passenger plane over eastern Ukraine. Russia has denied responsibility for any of those attacks.

Newsline: Italy summons Iran’s new ambassador

Italy’s foreign minister has summoned Iran’s new ambassador to Rome to express his country’s concerns over the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on anti-government protests that have been under way for more than three months. Conveying Italy’s “indignation and worry” over the crackdown, Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani said he hopes that Iran will respond “positively to Italy’s request”. The deadly crackdown, he said “has nothing to do with protecting the national security of the country”. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/28/italy-summons-irans-envoy-to-rome-over-crackdown-on-protesters) Tajani added that the Iranian ambassador, Mohammad Reza Saburi, who took up his post on Wednesday, agreed to convey Italy’s requests.

Newsline: Spain appoints new ambassador to Venezuela amid improving relations

The Spanish government has appointed a new ambassador to Venezuela, signalling a thaw in relations that comes two years after Madrid vacated the post to protest over what it said was the absence of free elections in the Caribbean country. The new ambassador is Ramon Santos Martinez, who has been the acting head of the diplomatic mission in Caracas since November 2021. “There are new circumstances that make it advisable to raise Spain’s representation in Venezuela to the level of ambassador,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday. “Once the negotiations in Mexico have resumed, Spain intends to be able to influence … the opening of the Venezuelan political process,” the spokesperson said. (https://news.yahoo.com/spain-appoints-ambassador-venezuela-amid-114556417.html) Following the 2018 presidential election, Spain recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president and distanced itself from the government of Nicolas Maduro, culminating in the recall of its top envoy to Caracas in November 2020. The new appointment heralds a change in that stance within the context of the ongoing political talks in Mexico between Venezuela’s government and opposition groups.