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Archive for Austria

Newsline: Russia expels four Austrian diplomats

Russia said on Thursday it was expelling four Austrian diplomats in a tit-for-tat move after Vienna expelled four Russian diplomats in a case which appeared to be related to spying. In a statement on Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Vienna had taken an “unfriendly and unjustified step” and was ruining Austria’s previous position as a respected, unbiased and neutral state. (https://uk.investing.com/news/world-news/russia-expels-four-austrian-diplomats-in-titfortat-move-2917812) Austria said on Feb. 2 it was expelling four Russian diplomats for behaving in a manner inconsistent with international agreements, a reason often invoked in spying cases, without giving specifics. It gave them a week to leave. Austria still has not elaborated on its reasons for expelling the diplomats, who worked at Russia’s Mission to the United Nations in Vienna and Russia’s Embassy to Austria. “The expulsion of Austrian embassy staff from Russia does not come as a surprise. We regret this unjustified decision by Russia, which lacks any basis in fact,” Austria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement in response to Russia’s move. “The Austrian embassy employees concerned perform their duties exclusively in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the statement added. Vienna is a major diplomatic centre hosting the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and United Nations organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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: Romania summons Austrian ambassador

Romania’s government has reacted with outrage after Austria blocked its bid to join the visa-free Schengen zone. Austria’s ambassador was summoned to explain a veto that Romanian officials called unjustified and an act of blackmail. Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner justified his vote on the grounds of a migration crisis in south-eastern Europe. Landlocked Austria has demanded EU action over tens of thousands of undocumented migrants arriving from the Balkans. But Romania said it had nothing to do with this and accused Austria of playing political games. “This result is completely unfair and devoid of any objective motivation,” Romania’s Foreign Ministry said. Romania’s Deputy Prime Minister Hunor Kelemen accused Austria of “miserable blackmail”. “Austria’s veto is unfair, immoral, lacking solid arguments, showing a miserable political game,” he said. (https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/2022/12/09/romania-summons-austrian-ambassador-over-schengen-snub/) Austria’s ceremonial head of state Alexander van der Bellen also criticised his government’s veto on Friday. But the government said it was the wrong time to extend Schengen when border protection was not working well enough. The Austrian veto stopped Romania and Bulgaria from joining Schengen in an EU vote on Thursday. The Netherlands also voted against, but said its objection was to Bulgaria and not Romania.

Newsline: UN chief taps Austrian diplomat as next rights chief

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has tapped the Austrian diplomat Volker Turk to be the next High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to a document sent Thursday to the General Assembly, which must approve the choice. The UN veteran would replace Michelle Bachelet, the former Chilean president who was appointed four years ago with the specific intent of having a powerful female politician in the role. “The secretary-general proposes to appoint Mr. Volker Turk (Austria) as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Guterres wrote, in a letter seen by AFP. “The secretary-general trusts that the General Assembly will approve this appointment.” (https://www.msn.com/en-ph/news/world/un-chief-taps-volker-turk-as-next-rights-chief/ar-AA11BxmQ) Multiple sources said that Guterres had notified UN member states late on Wednesday that he wants Turk, who is currently serving as assistant secretary general for policy, in the challenging role. The General Assembly was expected to address the matter during a meeting later on Thursday or Friday, diplomatic sources said. The 57-year-old Turk has spent most of his career within the UN system, with a particular focus on refugee questions. He worked closely with Guterres back when the latter headed the UN refugee agency. Turk represented UNHCR in Malaysia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina before being assigned to the headquarters.

Newsline: Austria summons Russian ambassador for tweeting inflammatory statements

The Austrian government has announced that it summons the Russian ambassador to the country, Mikhail Ulyanov, over a controversial Twitter message in which he wrote “No mercy for the Ukrainian people” before qualifying that he was in fact accusing the Ukrainian authorities of rejecting any diplomatic efforts to end the war. Ulyanov reacted on Twitter to a news story about the new military aid package announced by the United States with the aforementioned message. Ulyanov’s arguments have not convinced the Austrian authorities. “We are outraged by the inhuman statements of the Russian Permanent Representative and his attempts to put into perspective what cannot be put into perspective,” a spokeswoman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry has made known in a written statement picked up by ORF. “While the Ministry defends freedom of expression, it is also free to resolutely oppose such inflammatory statements,” the spokeswoman added before confirming that the ambassador is summoned on Sunday. (https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/austria-summons-russian-ambassador-for-tweeting-no-mercy-for-the-ukrainian-people/ar-AA10SrQI) The ambassador, also his country’s representative to international institutions in Vienna, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), shortly afterwards deleted the tweet and claimed that his intention was to accuse Kiev of ignoring the population and “categorically rejecting diplomatic efforts to focus exclusively on the Western arms buildup.”

Newsline: Austria to Reopen Embassy in Baghdad

On 1 September, Austria’s embassy in Baghdad will reopen after being vacant since 1991. Western diplomats had left the city at that time, including the Austrian ambassador. Austria’s representation in Baghdad has not been occupied since 1991. At that time, Western dipolmats, including the then Austrian ambassador, had left the city. According to the “Kurier”, which refers to “well-informed circles”, the embassy is to be “housed in a protected, international area as a first step”. At present, there is no official confirmation. The website of the Austrian Foreign Ministry continues to state “The Austrian Embassy in Baghdad is closed for security reasons”. Security level 6 applies to the entire country – “all travel is warned against!” (https://www.vindobona.org/article/diplomatic-relations-with-iraq-austrias-embassy-in-baghdad-to-be-reopened) At present, consular duties for Iraq are performed by the Austrian Embassy in Amman, Yemen. Austrians in distress cannot be provided with consular assistance as long as they are on Iraqi territory.

Newsline: Austria expels Russian diplomat amid ‘spy’ reports, Moscow expels Austrian envoy in response

Austria said it is expelling a Russian diplomat for violating envoy privileges, causing Russia to expel an Austrian diplomat in response. The Austrian Foreign Ministry said the Russian envoy is being ordered to leave as his behaviour was not compatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Austria Press Agency reported. Austria’s Kronen Zeitung newspaper reported the Russian diplomat was allegedly involved in economic espionage at a technology firm for years and was aided by an Austrian citizen. The daily said he has until September 1 to leave. Within hours of Vienna’s announcement, Russia declared an Austrian diplomat as non grata after summoning Austrian Ambassador Johannes Aigner. (https://www.euronews.com/2020/08/24/austria-expels-russian-diplomat-amid-spy-reports-moscow-expels-austrian-envoy-in-response) The move comes two months after a retired Austrian army colonel was sentenced to three years in prison for spying for Russia in a separate case. Less than a week ago, Norway also expelled a Russian diplomat linked to an unrelated case of a man jailed on accusations of spying for Russia.

Newsline: Former ambassador to Austria buys North Palm Beach house for $6M

A former ambassador to Austria under President George W. Bush bought a North Palm Beach house for $6 million. Under a trust in her name, Susan Rasinski McCaw bought the 5,000-square-foot house at 12184 West End in Lost Tree Village, according to records. (https://therealdeal.com/miami/2020/08/25/former-ambassador-to-austria-buys-north-palm-beach-house-for-6m/) Susan McCaw was appointed ambassador in 2005 and left the position in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of State’s website. She is based in Seattle and is president of private investment firm SRM Capital Investments, according to her LinkedIn. In 1998, McCaw married Craig McCaw, a mobile phone pioneer who sold McCaw Cellular Communications in 1994 to AT&T for $12.6 billion, according to Forbes. He also led telecommunications companies Nextel and Clearwire. Forbes currently pegs his net worth at $1.8 billion.

Newsline: Russia protests Austrian decision to expel Russian diplomat

Russia’s embassy in Vienna protested on Monday over what it said was a groundless decision by Austrian authorities to expel a Russian diplomat, the TASS news agency reported. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-austria-diplomat/russia-protests-austrian-decision-to-expel-russian-diplomat-tass-idUSKBN25K0V2) The Russian diplomat has been given until Sept. 1 to leave Austria, Austrian media were cited as saying on Friday.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Vienna partners with McDonald’s in Austria

Americans who find themselves in need of U.S. government assistance while in Austria can now seek help at one of almost 200 McDonald’s restaurants around the country. The U.S. Embassy in Vienna posted a photo on its Facebook page late last week heralding the new “Memorandum of Agreement” with the fast-food giant, under which restaurant staff will be trained to connect U.S. citizens to the embassy via a new hotline phone number. “American citizens traveling in Austria who find themselves in distress and without a way to contact the U.S. Embassy can enter – as of May 15, 2019 – any McDonald’s in Austria, and staff will assist them in making contact with the U.S. Embassy for consular services,” the embassy said. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-embassy-mcdonalds-restaurants-austria-hotline-americans-consular-service-2019-05-15/) The service may to prove useful for Americans who lose their passports and either don’t have cellphones that work in Europe, or don’t have the means to find a phone number for the embassy.