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Archive for Germany

Newsline: Tanzania Opposition Leader Seeks Refuge With German Ambassador

Tanzania’s main opposition leader Tundu Lissu sought refuge at the German ambassador’s residence in the city of Dar es Salaam, claiming he feared for his life after a contentious election. Lissu and other opposition leaders were briefly detained by the police last week after calling for nationwide street protests against the East African country’s Oct. 28 election, which they said was rigged in favor of the ruling party. The electoral body said the poll was free and credible. “I’m staying at the German ambassador’s residence since Monday because of threats on my life,” Lissu told Bloomberg on Saturday by telephone. Unidentified people had threatened to deal with him “once and for all,” he said. “I read that as: They are out to kill me.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-07/tanzania-opposition-leader-seeks-refuge-with-german-ambassador) Calls to the Dar es Salaam police chief, Lazaro Mambosasa, weren’t answered. Police said recently that the security situation was calm, with no incidents of election-related violence.

Newsline: Thai protesters march on German embassy to seek probe of king

Thousands of protesters marched on the German embassy in Bangkok to ask for an investigation of the Thai king’s activities during lengthy stays in Germany as months of protests give rise to growing calls for reforms of the monarchy. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/26/thai-parliament-opens-to-discuss-pro-democracy-protests) Berlin has said it would be unacceptable for King Maha Vajiralongkorn to conduct politics in Germany and Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said the European country continued to look into his behaviour during long sojourns in Bavaria. Criticising the monarchy can mean a 15-year jail sentence in Thailand, but the protests have swept away the longstanding taboo on discussing it. Protesters accuse the monarchy of helping to enable decades of domination by military rulers. They also complain about spending on the king’s European visits at a time the coronavirus has hit the tourism-reliant economy hard.

Newsline: German Diplomat Tells U.K. to ‘Stop the Games’ on Brexit

Germany’s Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth slammed the U.K.’s strategy in Brexit talks, saying that the lack of progress is disappointing and that a recent bill that seeks to override parts of the divorce agreement is unacceptable. The European Union fully backs its Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and is committed to a fair deal, Roth told reporters on Tuesday before a meeting of European Affairs Ministers in Brussels. “But please, dear friends in London, stop the games. Time is running out,” he said, adding that the U.K.’s Internal Market Bill is extremely worrying. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-22/u-k-must-stop-the-games-on-brexit-german-diplomat-says) The contentious element of the bill involves changes to the Withdrawal Agreement’s protocol for Northern Ireland, which shares a land border with the EU. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said on Sept. 8 that the legislation would break international law in a “specific and limited way.” The bill, which triggered a storm in the U.K. and abroad, “violates the guiding principles of the withdrawal agreement and that’s totally unacceptable for us,” Roth said.

Newsline: US Embassy to Challenge Germany over Attempts to Tax American Troops

Germany is violating an international treaty when it asks U.S. military personnel to pay taxes in the country, the U.S. Embassy in Berlin said as it jumped into a long-running fiscal dispute that has affected hundreds of U.S. troops and civilians. The U.S. Embassy and military commands “are aware of this long-standing issue and working closely in concert to address what we believe to be a misinterpretation of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement,” embassy spokesman Joseph Giordono-Scholz said in a statement. “The Department of Defense and Department of State are engaged to try and reach a resolution,” Giordono-Scholz said, giving the first indication that the issue is being tackled at a higher level than military commands in Germany, which have been unable to resolve it after years of trying. (https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/09/11/us-embassy-challenge-germany-over-attempts-tax-american-troops.html) State and Defense Department lawyers are hashing out the details of a plan that will be turned over to the embassy for action in the weeks ahead, a State Department official told Stars and Stripes this week. The involvement of senior U.S. officials comes after Stars and Stripes earlier this year spotlighted how Germany has threatened to impose hefty tax penalties — some in six figures — on troops and civilians who it says have special ties to the country. It’s aimed at getting the German federal government to issue guidance that would stop regional tax offices from levying taxes on Americans living in the country with SOFA protections, military officials have said.

Newsline: Russian Foreign Ministry expresses protest to German ambassador over Navalny accusations

The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed its protest to German Ambassador to Russia Geza Andreas von Geyr over the accusations made by the German government regarding the situation with Alexei Navalny. “A strong protest was declared to the ambassador over the unfounded accusations presented by the federal government of the Federal Republic of Germany against Russia in the context of the illness and hospitalization of Russian citizen Alexei Navalny, and the obvious use of his situation by Berlin as an excuse to discredit our country on the international arena,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a message published on Wednesday. (https://tass.com/politics/1198985) Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier said that Berlin was showing a totally unacceptable attitude towards Moscow’s legitimate demands and requests regarding the Navalny situation.

Newsline: Poland approves new German ambassador after long delay

Poland has accepted the appointment of a new German ambassador after an unusual delay of three months, reportedly rooted in Polish grievances over World War II. Polish media have reported that the country’s conservative and nationalist ruling party, Law and Justice, resisted accepting Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven as an ambassador because his father served as a military officer for Nazi Germany during the war. The three-month delay in Poland approving the agrément, or official diplomatic approval, for von Loringhoven had caused some tensions between Poland and Germany. The ties were already strained by other issues, including the Polish government’s anger over critical coverage of President Andrzej Duda in some independent media outlets with partial German ownership. Jürgen Hardt, a foreign policy spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right bloc in parliament, welcomed the step but called it “overdue.” He noted that the news reached him on the anniversary of the start of the war. “It remains incomprehensible to us that the Polish government delayed the granting of the agrément for so long,” Hardt said. “Ambassador Freytag von Loringhoven is an experienced diplomat who has worked all his life for a close and trusting cooperation with Poland.” (https://www.startribune.com/poland-approves-new-german-ambassador-after-long-delay/572281902/) Former Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, who resigned last month, called the long delay “strange” in an interview with daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita. Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, a Polish deputy foreign minister, announced late Monday that von Loringhoven had been accepted. He stressed that Germans must be aware of “a special kind of Polish sensitivity, resulting from the fact that the crimes of World War II remain a great unhealed wound in the minds of the Polish nation all the time.” Rzeczpospolita had reported that the ambassador’s appointment was being held up by Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, who opposed von Loringhoven representing Germany in Poland due to the role his father played in the war. The ambassador’s father, Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, prepared the daily military briefing in Adolf Hitler’s bunker from 1944 to the end of April 1945 as an adjutant to the Army Chief of Staff, according to German news agency dpa. Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven was born in 1956, more than 11 years after the war. He has served as deputy head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, and as Germany’s ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Newsline: Germany summons Belarus ambassador over detention of journalists

The ambassador of Belarus to Germany was summoned to the foreign ministry in Berlin after foreign journalists were detained in Minsk, a ministry spokesman said on Monday. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-belarus-election-germany-diplomacy/germany-summons-belarus-ambassador-over-detention-of-journalists-idUSKBN25R1CR)

Newsline: German-Polish relations hit snag over new ambassador to Warsaw

The German government is growing concerned at Poland’s delay in approving its new ambassador to Warsaw, in a case that has exposed latent tensions between the two neighbours. Arndt Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven, the ambassador-designate, has been waiting for three months to receive official approval from the Polish government, known in diplomatic jargon as an “agrément”. Without it, he cannot take up his duties as envoy. (https://www.ft.com/content/395de2d0-5256-4a70-9942-3e33309d80ce) The granting of agréments is a routine matter, especially when the two countries enjoy friendly relations and are both members of the EU and Nato. The German government first blamed the delay in Mr von Loringhoven’s case on the coronavirus pandemic, which shut a number of government offices in Warsaw. Officials then put it down to the protracted campaign for the Polish election, in which President Andrzej Duda won a second term, and to the recent resignation of Polish foreign minister Jacek Czaputowicz, which slowed down diplomatic business. However, German officials now believe the delay in approving Mr von Loringhoven’s appointment is politically motivated, and link it to the anti-German rhetoric deployed by Mr Duda during the campaign. Some commentators have suggested that the delay in approving the new ambassador could be linked to his family history. His father Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven was a Wehrmacht adjutant who served in Hitler’s bunker in the last few months of the second world war.

Newsline: Hungary summons German ambassador over EU minister’s anti-Semitism criticism

Hungary’s foreign ministry has summoned the German ambassador to a Monday meeting to explain remarks by his country’s European Union minister in which he accused Hungary of anti-Semitism, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a statement on Sunday. Szijjarto rejected the accusations but did not specify where the comments by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth were published. His spokesman, however, told Reuters that Szijjarto was referring to an interview with website t-online.de published late on Friday in which Roth criticised Hungary and Poland for an erosion of democratic culture and also said one aspect that “led to the Article 7 case against Hungary was rampant anti-semitism in Hungary”. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hungary-germany-diplomacy/hungary-summons-german-ambassador-over-eu-ministers-anti-semitism-criticism-idUSKBN25J0PQ) The EU invoked Article 7 of its governing treaty against Hungary in 2018, having invoked the procedure for the first time against Poland in 2017, for flouting the rule of law. The process could lead to the suspension of their EU voting rights if all other capitals agreed.

Newsline: German Foreign Ministry summons Belarusian ambassador

German Foreign Ministry summoned Denis Sidorenko, the ambassador of Belarus in this country, due to the situation that occurred in Belarus after presidential election. Stern and Bild report that the Belarusian ambassador was informed of German stance regarding the electoral process in this country. In turn, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas claims that the pressure against Minsk will keep growing considerably. The official said that this move is already agreed with EU partners. (https://112.international/politics/german-foreign-ministry-summons-belarusian-ambassador-53883.html) As is known, a powerful wave of anti-government protests rose in Belarus after presidential election results were published by Central Election Committee. According to these results, the incumbent leader Alexander Lukashenko won with 80 percent of votes collected; his rival Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya scored just ten percent. Thousands of Belarusians claimed that the voting results were tampered with during the vote count, and hit the streets, showing their discontent and anger with the results of elections. Rallies unfurled in several cities across the country, with the largest one in the capital city. About 6,700 people were detained during protests.