Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 11, 2018

Newsline: US Embassy in Jerusalem to open with staff of 50

At least 50 diplomats will staff the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem when it opens next week, The Associated Press reported Friday. Included in the staff will be aides of Ambassador David Friedman and consular staff already working at the passport facility where the embassy will be housed temporarily until a permanent facility is build in the future. The embassy is moving from Tel Aviv as part of President Trump’s decision earlier this year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a decision that infuriated Israel’s neighbors and was condemned by the international community. Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital, and Trump’s announcement was widely seen as a blow to peace talks. Nearly 800 guests are expected to attend next week’s embassy opening ceremony, though Trump has said he will not join the high-ranking delegation of U.S. officials present. The mayor of Jerusalem announced this week that the city would name a square near the embassy in Trump’s honor for his historic declaration, which broke with decades of foreign policy norms.



Newsline: Macedonia to Probe Suspicious Embassy Purchases

Macedonia’s State Prosecution is to probe Foreign Ministry allegations that the previous administration spent tens of millions of euros over ten years in a highly suspect manner on buying real estate for embassies. “The prosecution is interested in this case and will investigate these allegations,” it told BIRN this week, adding that it is still early to predict whether the inquiry will result in opening a formal investigation and charges. At a press conference in the government headquarters, the Foreign Ministry’s State Secretary, Viktor Dimovski, said that they had uncovered many instances of excess spending and procedural irregularities during the previous administration’s endeavours to purchase real estate in foreign countries. Dimovski said the ministry suspected that “a network of lawyers, companies and individuals” was involved in a scheme to effectively pump money from the state budget. “More expensive buildings were favoured, even when larger buildings located in better areas were on offer. In addition, these buildings underwent expensive and unnecessary adaptations,” Dimovski said. The real estate, intended to be turned into embassies and consulates, was bought from 2007 in Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Ljubljana and Istanbul, Dimovski explained.