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Archive for Germany

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.

Newsline: Germany expels two Iranian embassy employees

Germany has declared two employees of the Iranian embassy personae non gratae and ordered them to leave the country in response to Iran sentencing a German national to death, a statement from the foreign office said on Wednesday. Germany summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement, adding: “He was informed that we do not accept the massive violation of the rights of a German citizen.” “We call on Iran to revoke Jamshid Sharmahd’s death sentence and provide him with a fair appeal process based on the rule of law,” she added. (https://neuters.de/world/germany-expels-two-iranian-embassy-employees-over-death-sentence-2023-02-22/) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the sentence as unacceptable, calling on Iran to reverse the ruling. “The Iranian regime fights its own people in every possible way and disregards human rights,” Scholz wrote on Twitter. Sharmahd, a German-Iranian national, was sentenced to death on charges of “corruption on earth”, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported on Tuesday. The verdict can be appealed. A foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that the consulate was working to provide further support to the dual national and was in touch with the man’s relatives. “We will continue to provide consular support to the extent that this is possible. I have already explained how difficult this is in Iran,” the spokesperson said. “This is a first instance verdict and we will follow the progress of the situation,” he added. 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 summons Iranian ambassador

Germany summoned Iran’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin for talks on Monday, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “I can confirm that the Iranian ambassador was summoned to a meeting at the Foreign Office today,” the spokesperson told a regular government news conference in Berlin. (https://neuters.de/world/germany-summons-iranian-ambassador-talks-berlin-2023-01-16/) Germany summoned Iran’s ambassador against the backdrop of German concerns about Tehran’s human rights record.

Newsline: G7 top diplomats focus on Ukraine, China

Top diplomats from the Group of Seven nations on Friday focused on Ukrainian crisis and China’s increasing assertiveness. Foreign ministers from the G-7, wrapping up two days of talks in the historic western German city of Muenster, were set to release a statement asserting common positions on Ukraine, Russia, China and recent developments in Iran and North Korea, officials said. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the United States comprise the G-7. A year after warning Russia about the consequences of invading Ukraine, the G-7 ministers were to endorse further punishments for the Kremlin and additional backing for Kyiv and countries affected by food and energy shortages that the war has exacerbated, the officials said. (https://news.yahoo.com/g7-ministers-rally-support-ukraine-111536517.html) The ministers called out Iran for allegedly supplying weapons to Russia and a brutal crackdown on antigovernment protesters. Their statement further condemned the recent escalation of tensions in Asia caused by North Korean military activity.

Newsline: G7 top diplomats to discuss Ukraine, China and Iran

Top diplomats from the Group of Seven nations – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – are meeting in the western German city of Munster to discuss issues relating to Ukraine, China and Iran. Senior U.S. officials traveling with Blinken said they expected the discussions on Thursday and Friday in Munster’s town hall — which local officials say was last used for an international diplomatic event in 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed ending the 30 Years War — to reaffirm G-7 “alignment and consistency” on Ukraine and a number of other issues. (https://news.yahoo.com/g7-foreign-ministers-set-grapple-220558577.html) Those include joint approaches to China, which has sided with Russia over Ukraine while also seeking to boost investments in critical and sensitive infrastructure in the West, and Iran, which in addition to crackdown on protesters is accused of supplying Russia with drones.

Newsline: German authorities looking into reports of illegal Chinese diplomatic police in Frankfurt

Authorities in Germany are investigating whether China maintains an illegal extraterritorial diplomatic police station in Frankfurt, a spokesperson said. A spokesperson for the interior ministry in the German state of Hesse said police and internal security services were checking a report by Spanish activist group Safeguard Defenders, who said China had set up undeclared police offices in 30 countries, including Germany. Confirming an earlier report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, the spokesperson said they so far had no indications such facilities existed in Frankfurt. (https://www.reuters.com/world/german-authorities-looking-into-reports-illegal-chinese-police-frankfurt-2022-10-28/) The Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dutch authorities on Wednesday said they were investigating Chinese offices that were operating illegally in the Netherlands, carrying out tasks like renewing driving licences. That followed allegations, denied by the Chinese embassy in The Hague, that the office had also harassed a Chinese dissident living in the Netherlands.

Newsline: Zambian Embassy in Berlin warns against online scams

The Zambian Embassy in Berlin, Germany has expressed concern over the high number of Zambians being swindled by online scammers purporting to be Polish based motor vehicle and tractor dealers. Charge d’ Affaires at the Zambian Embassy in Germany, Dorcas Chileshe has cautioned Zambians wishing to purchase motor vehicles and tractors online from Poland to verify the authenticity of the companies they are dealing with before making payments. “Scammers usually purport to be selling tractors and motor vehicles in excellent condition at very low prices to attract unsuspecting buyers,” she said. (https://www.lusakatimes.com/2022/10/13/high-numbers-of-online-car-dealers-scams-worry-zambian-embassy-in-berlin-germany/) Ms Chileshe has since encouraged Zambians to conduct due diligence on the companies they deal with and seek guidance from the Zambian Embassy in Germany or the Consulate in Poland, as the Zambian Embassy in Berlin covers Poland as a country of Extra accreditation.

Newsline: Israel’s ambassador slams German politician

Israel’s ambassador in Berlin has slammed a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party for appearing to dance on the country’s Holocaust memorial. Ambassador Ron Prosor said tweeted that far-right politician Holger Winterstein had brought “shame upon himself and his party.” (https://thehill.com/homenews/ap/ap-international/ap-german-far-right-politician-danced-on-holocaust-memorial/) A picture posted on social media showed Winterstein posing with outstretched arms on one of the stone slabs that form the memorial in Berlin for the more than 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. German media reported that the picture was taken after a protest organized Saturday by Alternative for Germany. The party, known by its German acronym AfD, said it would take action against Winterstein over his “extremely disrespectful behavior.” Winterstein is a county representative in Thuringia.

Newsline: German embassies report surge in Russians seeking visas

Germany’s embassies in countries neighbouring Russia have seen a surge in visa enquiries from Russian citizens since partial mobilisation for the war in Ukraine began in their home country, a source from the German foreign ministry said. “We can confirm a sharp increase in the number of enquiries sent to our foreign missions in the region, particularly by e-mail and telephone,” the source told Reuters. (https://news.yahoo.com/several-german-embassies-see-surge-154926184.html) In some cases, people were going to the embassies in person. Der Spiegel news magazine previously reported that German missions in Yerevan, Astana, Tbilisi, Baku and Minsk had registered thousands of requests for entry permits to Germany since President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial mobilisation on Sept. 21. An exact figure was not given because it had become impossible to process the requests within set deadlines, the report said, adding that appointments for hearings were no longer being handed out. The ministry is said to be considering increasing its staff in the five cities.