Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 16, 2023

Newsline: France’s President seeks to calm diplomats amid foreign service reform

President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday promised to raise budgets and hire more officials as he sought to assuage France’s diplomatic corps over a civil service reform. Pushed by young foreign ministry civil servants, hundreds of diplomatic staff at home and abroad, including some ambassadors, took part in the first strike for 20 years last June in protest over the reform and years of staff cuts. “I want a complete rearmament of our diplomacy to serve peace,” Macron said in a rare speech to diplomats at the Quai d’Orsay, home of France’s foreign service in Paris. Promising to increase budgets by 20% over the next four years and to hire some 700 hundred new officials, he said the reform would be a transformation. “We must end years of reductions and give ourselves the means to commit new capacities, develop new skills and, at a time when war has come back to Europe, be able to give ourselves the means to serve our interests, defend our priorities, influence and have the capacities to make our country shine.” (https://neuters.de/world/macron-seeks-calm-diplomats-amid-overhaul-foreign-service-2023-03-16/) The core grievance centred around the merging of career diplomats into the broader civil service, increasing competition for posts, but which diplomats say would dilute the service that they say needs expertise — including in languages and on-the-ground experience — garnered from years work overseas. In response, the ministry on Wednesday sent Macron a 300 page report outlining an overhaul of the diplomatic service to give it new skills. Ministry officials have said the reforms, passed by decree last May and put into force in January, will preserve the diplomatic profession and careers. Speaking on condition of anonymity several diplomats said they felt betrayed and they believed it would leave France without a high-performing diplomatic service. France has the world’s third-largest diplomatic network behind the United States and China, with some 1,800 diplomats and about 13,500 officials working at the foreign ministry.

Newsline: US ambassador to India confirmed after two-year delay

The U.S. Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India on Wednesday, ending a nearly two-year nomination fight over allegations the former Los Angeles mayor mishandled workplace harassment complaints. Senators backed Garcetti by 52-42, as seven Republicans joined the majority of Democrats in supporting Garcetti and three Democrats joined most Republicans in voting no. The United States has not had an ambassador to New Delhi since January 2021, an absence that has loomed large as Washington looks to India to be a partner in efforts to push back against China’s expanding power and influence. “The United States-India relationship is extremely important and it’s a very good thing we now have an ambassador,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who led a congressional delegation to India last month. (https://neuters.de/world/us/biden-nomination-garcetti-ambassador-india-advances-us-senate-2023-03-15/) Biden is eager to deepen ties with India, the world’s largest democracy and a major U.S. trading partner, as part of his bid to win what he has framed as a contest between free and autocratic societies.

Newsline: Japan and South Korea hail diplomatic thaw

The leaders of Japan and South Korea promised to turn the page on years of animosity at a meeting on Thursday, putting aside their difficult, shared history and saying they needed to work more closely to counter the region’s security challenges. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/south-koreas-yoon-seeks-friend-tokyo-amid-regional-tensions-2023-03-15/) The comments from South Korea’s Yoon Suk Yeol and Japan’s Fumio Kishida at a joint meeting in Tokyo highlight how the two U.S. allies have been pushed closer together by North Korea’s frequent missile launches, as well as growing concern about China’s more muscular role on the international stage. Yoon’s visit to Japan on Thursday was the first for a South Korean president in 12 years. The urgency of the regional security situation – and the threat posed by North Korea – were underscored in the hours before Yoon’s arrival, when the North fired a long-range ballistic missile that landed in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan. The two countries also agreed to drop an almost four-year-old trade dispute on the high-tech materials used for chips, an issue that has dogged their relationship even as the political importance of semiconductors, and securing their supply, has increased.