Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August, 2019

Newsline: Arab League warns Honduras that moving embassy to Jerusalem violates international law

Arab League chief Ahmed Abul-Gheit sent a letter to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Friday, warning him that moving the Honduran embassy to Jerusalem would breach international law. Hernandez is expected to open a diplomatic office in Jerusalem on Sunday, according to a Wednesday statement from the Secretary of the Honduran Presidency, Ebal Diaz. (https://www.egyptindependent.com/arab-league-warns-honduras-that-moving-embassy-to-jerusalem-violates-international-law/) In the statement, Diaz explained that “The Honduran government decided to establish in Jerusalem a formal diplomatic mission office for political, cultural and trade cooperation, which is an extension of Honduras’ embassy in Tel Aviv, and recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” Abul-Gheit condemned Honduras’ position in his letter, which opposes international law and the stable international consensus on Jerusalem as an occupied territory in 1967.

Newsline: In unusual move, Japan names Yomiuri Chairman ambassador to Switzerland

The government on Friday named Kojiro Shiraishi, chairman of the conservative media conglomerate Yomiuri Shimbun group, as its new ambassador to Switzerland. The appointment of Shiraishi, 72, is a rare case of a media figure becoming a top envoy. He fills the vacancy left by the resignation in April of Etsuro Honda, one of the key architects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies, known as Abenomics. (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/30/national/japan-names-yomiuri-chairman-kojiro-shiraishi-ambassador-switzerland/#.XWlZYY1RU8o) Shiraishi, a former political reporter, rose through the newspaper’s ranks to become group president in June 2011. He also served as owner of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team before becoming group chairman in June 2016. As head of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, he sat on the government panel that helped choose Japan’s new era name, Reiwa. Japan on Friday also named ambassadors to Bangladesh, Belarus, Denmark, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Zambia and its mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Newsline: Morocco’s embassy in Pakistan rejects allegations on «abusing diplomatic immunity»

After it was accused of having allegedly «abused immunity», the Moroccan embassy in Islamabad issued a communiqué, refuting the allegations. «The Embassy categorically denies information», suggesting that it would have imported «26 tons of merchandise», the press release stressed. The diplomatic mission also rejected reports, saying that «the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not have authorized the import of this cargo and that it can, upon gathering the necessary data, investigate the matter». «Duty-free imports require contacting the Protocol Department of the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan», which did not happen, according to the Moroccan embassy. «We have formally contacted the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify this and put an end to these allegations», the same source added. (https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/82637/morocco-s-embassy-pakistan-rejects-allegations.html) Pikistan Today reported that the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Pakistani Customs Administration, is seeking information on a significant number of tax-exempt items that the Moroccan embassy in the country has purchased. The newspaper said that the Moroccan embassy in Islamabad would have said it had not ordered nor imported such a cargo, while claiming to follow the case since the Kingdom’s ambassador himself would have demanded an investigation.

Newsline: Croatian diplomat in Germany suspended for ‘white Europe’ comments

A senior Berlin-based Croatian diplomat has been accused of damaging her country’s reputation after she wrote inflammatory Facebook posts alongside idyllic images of the Adriatic coast. “Just white Europeans as it used to be only 30 years ago in the whole of Europe,” wrote Elizabeta Madjarevic. The foreign minister said she was being recalled. The Facebook account of Ms Madjarevic, who is first secretary at the Berlin embassy, has now been deleted. But the diplomat’s views were exposed by Croatia’s Index.hr website, which said that in an 8 August post, under sun-drenched images of Croatia, she referred to “white Europeans” and a “pure and authentic Europe”. The comments were characteristic of white nationalists and neo-Nazis, it said. Initially she defended her posts, arguing that she had a right to speak as a private individual. “I am neither an official nor a politician, but an ordinary person who has the right to privacy,” she was quoted as writing on Facebook. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49405099) She also suggested her Facebook page had been hacked. However, Index.hr reported that in earlier Facebook posts she had written about the “Islamisation agenda” of Muslims and espoused homophobic views. In one post she linked LGBTQ to paedophilia. Ms Madjarevic was also outspoken about German attempts to integrate migrants into society, it said. Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman, who until recently was Croatia’s ambassador to Germany, rejected the diplomat’s claim that her account had been hacked and stressed that a diplomat was never a private individual. She was suspended pending a civil service tribunal, he said.

Newsline: South Korea summons Japan ambassador as export trade curbs take effect

South Korea summoned Japan’s ambassador to protest against a decision to remove Seoul’s fast-track export status, which took effect on Wednesday amid a deepening political and economic feud. Japan dropped South Korea from a so-called white list of favored trade partners this month, which could mean more paperwork and on-site inspections for some Japanese exporters and potentially slow supplies of a range of goods. The decision prompted South Korea to drop Japan from its favored trading list and scrap an intelligence-sharing agreement. South Korean deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong said it was deeply regrettable that Japan’s decision to scrap fast-track export status for South Korea had taken effect. South Korea would be willing to reconsider its decision to end the intelligence-sharing pact if Japan corrected its “unjust measures”, Kim told a news conference. “I want to stress the ball is in Japan’s court,” he said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-japan-labourers/south-korea-summons-japan-ambassador-as-export-trade-curbs-take-effect-idUSKCN1VI0AM) Relations between the two countries worsened late last year after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered compensation for some Koreans forced to work at Japanese firms during Japan’s 1910-45 occupation.

Newsline: Jerusalem residents headed by former Israeli diplomat protest US Embassy wall construction

Residents of Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood have urged their new neighbors at the US Embassy to halt construction of a five-meter-high protective wall surrounding the facility. Residents complained that the wall will block impressive views of the Dead Sea from the neighborhood. Construction started earlier this week, and the families say it is progressing without consulting the local community. The residents’ campaign is led by Miryam Shomrat, a former Israeli diplomat. “We, the residents of Talpiot Arnona, are amazed to find that along our neighborhood’s Kfar Etzion St., a five-meter-high wall is about to completely block our access to the view which is part of our life in the area,” Shomrat wrote in a letter sent on Sunday to Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz. “The wall is being constructed under the pretext of ‘protecting’ the US Embassy building, while everyone is aware that the south side of the building is completely exposed to an Arab village, and yet we have to pay a heavy price in terms of our quality of life without rhyme or reason.” (https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Jerusalem-residents-protest-US-Embassy-wall-construction-599834) Demanding an immediate halt to construction work, Shomrat said the erection of the “savage” wall is “contrary to the good spirit that characterizes [the residents’] relationship with the consulate and embassy.”

Newsline: Denmark welcomes US consulate opening in Greenland’s Nuuk

Political opinions throughout Denmark have welcomed the proposal of a U.S. Consulate opening in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital. “We think it’s quite a good idea,” Soeren Espersen, Foreign Ministry spokesperson of the right-wing Danish People’s Party, said. (http://www.china.org.cn/world/2019-08/26/content_75137868.htm) The U.S. State Department, in a letter sent to Congress Thursday, said a U.S. Consulate in Greenland would be “a critical component of our efforts to increase U.S. presence in the Arctic and would serve as an effective platform to advance U.S. interests in Greenland.” Denmark and Greenland’s warm response to the news may come as a surprise to international readers, especially in the wake of the U.S. President Donald Trump’s earlier proposal to purchase Greenland from Denmark and his reaction to the Danish prime minister’s rejection to his offer. “The consulate is nothing new. They did it during World War II. Denmark has its own consulates; 10 to 12 consulates all around the U.S. It’s all part of strengthening the cooperation between our two countries so we have absolutely no objections to that,” said Soeren Espersen. Asked if he agreed with analysts in the Danish news media, who questioned if Trump’s proposal to purchase Greenland was in part due to Danish unwillingness to take Greenland’s strategic importance seriously, Espersen replied “Well, from a military angle we don’t”, adding “Maybe we have worked too little on strengthening the Kingdom. We have neglected this for some years and I think what happened has been a wake-up call.” Meanwhile, the Greenland government of Naalakkersuisut, enthusiastically welcomed the news of a U.S. consulate opening. “Greenland is a part of North America,” said Greenland Minister for Foreign Affairs Ane Lone Bagger. “We, therefore, welcome the decision of the U.S. government to the reestablishment of a permanent Department of State presence in Nuuk — we have a lot to discuss. A presence in Nuuk will help the Americans better understand our country and our society, which is a prerequisite for good and fruitful cooperation in the future,” said the minister on Greenland’s official website on Saturday.