Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 9, 2022

Newsline: Romania summons Austrian ambassador

Romania’s government has reacted with outrage after Austria blocked its bid to join the visa-free Schengen zone. Austria’s ambassador was summoned to explain a veto that Romanian officials called unjustified and an act of blackmail. Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner justified his vote on the grounds of a migration crisis in south-eastern Europe. Landlocked Austria has demanded EU action over tens of thousands of undocumented migrants arriving from the Balkans. But Romania said it had nothing to do with this and accused Austria of playing political games. “This result is completely unfair and devoid of any objective motivation,” Romania’s Foreign Ministry said. Romania’s Deputy Prime Minister Hunor Kelemen accused Austria of “miserable blackmail”. “Austria’s veto is unfair, immoral, lacking solid arguments, showing a miserable political game,” he said. (https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/2022/12/09/romania-summons-austrian-ambassador-over-schengen-snub/) Austria’s ceremonial head of state Alexander van der Bellen also criticised his government’s veto on Friday. But the government said it was the wrong time to extend Schengen when border protection was not working well enough. The Austrian veto stopped Romania and Bulgaria from joining Schengen in an EU vote on Thursday. The Netherlands also voted against, but said its objection was to Bulgaria and not Romania.

Newsline: Russia summons Canadian ambassador

Russia said on Friday it had summoned Canada’s ambassador to the foreign ministry in Moscow in a tit-for-tat move. In a statement, the foreign ministry said Canada’s ambassador, Alison LeClaire, had been told that Ottawa was “fomenting an atmosphere of Russophobia”. (https://www.devdiscourse.com/article/business/2280918-russia-summons-canadian-ambassador-in-tit-for-tat-move) The statement cited Canada’s alleged “hostile policy” and statements about Russia’s actions.

Newsline: Anarchists claim arson attack on Italian embassy car in Athens

A Greek anarchist group has claimed responsibility for an arson attack on an Italian diplomat’s car in Athens. In a statement posted on a far-left website Thursday, a group calling itself “Revenge Cell Carlo Giuliani” said it carried out last Friday’s attack in a show of solidarity for Alfredo Cospito, an imprisoned Italian militant anarchist on hunger strike over prison conditions. (https://www.thestar.com/news/world/europe/2022/12/08/anarchists-claim-athens-arson-attack-on-italian-embassy-car.html) Carlo Giuliani was an anti-global protester killed during protests against a G8 meeting in Genoa in 2001. His name has been used before in claims of responsibility for arson attacks in Greece. Last Friday’s attack, which caused no injuries, targeted the car of Susanna Schlein, a career diplomat and the sister of prominent Italian lawmaker Elly Schlein. Fire service officials said a crude incendiary device exploded in the garage of the diplomat’s home in a northern Athens suburb, burning one car and damaging a second. After Friday’s arson attack, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and discussed the incident.

Newsline: China slams attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul

China condemned the attack on the Pakistani embassy in Kabul last week and said it firmly opposed all forms of violence and terrorist acts. “China strongly condemns and firmly opposes all forms of violence and terrorist acts,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in response to a question raised by APP. “We extend sympathy to the injured (person) in the attack,” the spokesperson said. Mao Ning remarked that China had been closely following the security situation in Afghanistan, and added, “China will continue to firmly support Afghanistan in combating all forms of terrorism and violence to safeguard its national security and stability.” (https://dailytimes.com.pk/1036937/china-condemns-attack-on-pakistans-embassy-in-kabul/) Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul came under attack last Friday, leaving one security guard critically injured.

Newsline: US diplomat’s wife gets suspended sentence for killing UK teen in car crash

A US diplomat’s wife on Thursday narrowly avoided jail in Britain for killing a teenage motorcyclist by driving on the wrong side of the road and then fleeing the country. Anne Sacoolas was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, during which period she faces jail if she commits another offence. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-diplomats-wife-gets-suspended-163044617.html) She did not attend the sentencing hearing in London in person and followed proceedings by video-link. Harry Dunn, 19, died in August 2019 when his motorbike collided with Sacoolas’s car that she was driving on the wrong side of the road near a US airbase in southern England. She left Britain after the accident and the US government claimed she had immunity from criminal prosecution because she was at the base as a dependent of her husband. A request for her extradition was denied, turning the case into a high-profile diplomatic spat between London and Washington. Sacoolas was originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of careless driving which carries a maximum jail term of five years. Sacoolas had declined to attend court in person on the advice of the US government, her employer, which claimed her presence could “place significant US interests at risk”.