Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 1, 2023

Newsline: Iran expels two German diplomats

Iran on Wednesday declared two German diplomats as personae non gratae and ordered them to leave the country. The move came after Germany expelled two employees of the Iranian embassy in Berlin last week in response to Iran sentencing a German national to death. “The two German diplomats are being expelled due to Germany’s irresponsible interference in Iran’s internal and judicial affairs,” state media quoted Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani as saying. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will act firmly against excessive demands.” (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/iran-expels-two-german-diplomats-tit-for-tat-move-2023-03-01/) Germany has called on Iran to revoke the death sentence handed out to German-Iranian national Jamshid Sharmahd on charges of “corruption on earth”. The verdict can be appealed. Iran accuses Sharmahd, who also has U.S. residency, of heading a pro-monarchist group accused of a deadly 2008 bombing and planning other attacks in the country.

Newsline: Germany eyes feminist foreign policy

Germany’s centre-left government on Wednesday released new guidelines set to shape all diplomacy and development work including the creation of a new role for an “ambassador for feminist foreign policy”. Germany will lobby to ensure women’s concerns are more in focus worldwide, that women are increasingly included in peace processes and that 12 billion euros ($12.8 billion) of German development funds are allocated more to projects that tackle gender inequality, according to the foreign and development ministry guidelines. “We will work hard to give our foreign service a more female face and to raise the proportion of women in senior roles,” Germany’s first female foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said in the introduction to the 88-page long guidelines. “We will also more systematically allocate our financial resources in the service of feminist foreign policy,” the Greens politician said. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/germany-unveils-guidelines-give-foreign-policy-a-more-female-face-2023-03-01/) Given Germany’s clout as Europe’s biggest economy and a key diplomatic actor, the move gives fresh momentum to the feminist foreign policy movement, which was pioneered by a leftist Swedish government in 2014. Such a policy has been embraced in recent years by other countries like Canada, France, Mexico and Spain – although Sweden abandoned it last year after a shift to a right-wing government. Critics say the government needs to avoid coming across as moralising. Sweden antagonised several allies after it started focusing more on gender equality and human rights in its diplomacy.

Newsline: German top diplomat voices concern about judicial reform in Israel

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday expressed concern about judicial independence in Israel as well as plans by the Israeli government to allow the death penalty. “I will not deny that we abroad are concerned about some of the legislative plans in Israel,” Baerbock said at a news conference with her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Berlin. “Among the values that unite us is the protection of constitutional principles such as the independence of the judiciary,” she said. “That was always Israel’s hallmark.” (https://neuters.de/world/german-foreign-minister-concerned-about-judicial-independence-israel-2023-02-28/) Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, said earlier this week that Germany was closely watching the dispute over the plans for judicial change. The new nationalist-religious government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ploughed ahead this month with its proposed changes as parliament took first steps in legislating limits to the Supreme Court’s power to strike down laws. Another change pushed by the ruling coalition would give it more sway in picking judges. Some of the bills have won initial votes in parliament but have yet to be written into law.