Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for February 2, 2023

Newsline: Turkey summons ambassadors of nine countries

Turkey summoned ambassadors of nine countries on Thursday to demand an explanation, after countries temporarily shut diplomatic missions and issued security alerts citing a heightened threat following Koran burning incidents in Europe. A Turkish foreign ministry source said ambassadors from nine countries were summoned on Thursday, but did not identify them. The U.S. embassy confirmed that its ambassador attended a meeting at the ministry. Two European diplomatic sources said ambassadors from Germany, France and the Netherlands were also summoned. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/turkey-summons-ambassadors-nine-countries-over-security-alerts-2023-02-02/) Far-right activists burned Korans in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands last week, acts that led to a halt in negotiations for Turkey to lift objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. The European countries have denounced the incidents but some say they cannot prevent them because of free speech rules. Countries including France, Germany, Italy and the United States have warned their citizens of an increased risk of attacks in Turkey, particularly against diplomatic missions and non-Muslim places of worship. Germany, France and the Netherlands were among countries that temporarily closed diplomatic missions for security reasons this week.

Newsline: U.S. concerned by release of Sudanese man guilty of killing diplomat

Washington is deeply concerned over the release this week of a Sudanese man facing the death penalty in connection with the killing of a U.S. diplomat in 2008, the State Department said on Wednesday. The assertion that the United States had agreed to his release as part of the settlement was inaccurate, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. Price said the U.S. government is deeply troubled by a lack of transparency in the legal process that resulted in his release. “We will continue to seek clarity about this decision,” Price said. (https://neuters.de/world/us-deeply-concerned-by-release-sudanese-man-found-guilty-killing-diplomat-2023-02-01/) Abdelraouf Abuzeid was found guilty, along with others, in the killing of American John Granville and a Sudanese colleague, who both worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and were killed by gunmen in Khartoum. “I was horrified,” Granville’s mother, Jane Granville, told Reuters about hearing of Abuzeid’s release. Abuzeid’s brother told Reuters on Monday that his sibling was released by the country’s high court based on a multi-million dollar 2020 settlement between Sudan and victims of attacks including the one that killed Granville. The money received by Granville’s family from the Sudanese government was interpreted by a majority of the court as a release of their right to retribution and the acceptance of blood money, said a Sudanese legal source related to the case. “In no way did (the settlement) say that that money was going to release any of these men that killed John,” Jane Granville said. “I never would’ve accepted it if that was part of it.” Abuzeid’s brother said he did not know whether Granville’s family had agreed or not.

Newsline: Austria expels four Russian diplomats

Austria is expelling four Russian diplomats for behaving in a manner inconsistent with international agreements, a reason often invoked in spying cases, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday without giving specifics. Two of the four diplomats declared personae non gratae and ordered to leave the country by Feb. 8 at the latest are stationed at the Russian Embassy to Austria while, the other two work at the Russian mission to the United Nations in Vienna, the ministry said in a statement. “Two diplomats at the Russian embassy have acted in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status. They were therefore declared unwelcome persons (personae non gratae) in accordance with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the ministry said. The two working at the Russian mission to the U.N. acted in a way that was inconsistent with the host country agreement between the United Nations and Austria, it added. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/austria-expels-four-russian-envoys-breaching-international-agreements-2023-02-02/) The ministry did not say specifically what any of the diplomats had done, and a spokeswoman declined to comment. Vienna is a major diplomatic centre hosting both the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and United Nations organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency. Larger countries like Russia and the United States often have separate ambassadors to Austria, the OSCE and the U.N. organisations, each running an embassy or permanent mission.

Newsline: U.S. opens embassy in Solomon Islands

The United States has opened an embassy in the Solomon Islands after a 30-year absence as it seeks to boost diplomatic relations in the Pacific. In a statement on Wednesday, Blinken said the State Department informed the Solomon Islands’ government that the opening of the new embassy in the capital Honiara became official. “The opening of the embassy builds on our efforts not only to place more diplomatic personnel throughout the region, but also to engage further with our Pacific neighbors, connect United States programs and resources with needs on the ground, and build people-to-people ties,” he said. (https://neuters.de/world/us-opens-embassy-solomon-islands-blinken-says-2023-02-01/) Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced plans to open a diplomatic mission in the Pacific island nation during a visit to the region last year. The last U.S. embassy in the Solomons closed in 1993 amid post-Cold War budget cuts and the United States was represented there by an ambassador based in Papua New Guinea.