Archive for Europe
Russia, the main military backer of the Syrian government, has summoned Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren for questioning over recent Israeli airstrikes on Syrian state forces, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said. Russia demands Israel more closely communicate its military plans in the region to avoid such incidents, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in comments carried by state news agency RIA Novosti. Israeli warplanes conducted air raids in Syria on Friday, with Syrian state forces retaliating using anti-aircraft weapons, in one of the more serious exchanges of fire in the six years of Syria’s multi-sided civil war. Russia has maintained close relations with Israel despite the decades-long animosity between Syria and the neighbouring Jewish state, including over Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel has about a million Russian-speaking residents. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month in Moscow for talks that focused on the Syrian conflict. Netanyahu warned Putin about Iranian involvement in the conflict. Like Syria’s regime, Iran is also a regional rival of Israel but an ally of Russia.
One of the buildings that belong to the Russian Embassy in Damascus was damaged as a result of a Sunday shelling by militants, Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak said. “We have a building, which we temporarily do not use and it is located close to the epicenter of the yesterday’s armed clashes. As they told me, the blast wave had broken the window glass there. However, nobody is currently living there except for a local keeper,” Kinshchak told reporters. According to Kinshchak, this building was previously used and it was planned to station the consular office there, however, this building is located close to the district controlled by illegal armed groups. “We were forced to temporarily abandon the idea of using this building… all the employees moved to the main building of the embassy,” the ambassador added.
Indonesia has summoned the British ambassador in Jakarta after a cruise ship crashed into coral reefs off the coast of Indonesia earlier this month. The Caledonian Sky, a 4,200-tonne cruise ship, was on a voyage organised by a London company when it smashed into the reefs at low tide around Kri, one of hundreds of tiny islands in Raja Ampat, West Papua province. The region attracts many travellers and divers – those on the ship were on a bird-watching expedition – as it is one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on the planet. Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs, summoned British ambassador Moazzam Malik to Jakarta on Friday. “I’m disappointed to learn about the damage to this coral reef in West Papua – as we are with any environmental incident that occurs in Indonesia or anywhere else in the world,” Malik told reporters following a meeting at Pandjaitan’s office. “We hope the matter can be resolved quickly between the Indonesian authorities and the company that is responsible for this accident.” Further damage to the coral reef was caused when numerous attempts to free the ship using a tug boat failed. The ship, carrying 79 crew members and 102 passengers, was later refloated during high tide. “He [the captain] attempted to break free from the reefs and made the damage even worse even though he was ordered to stop,” Pandjaitan said. The Indonesian government has said that the British captain piloting the ship could face criminal charges, while marine researchers have estimated that it could take decades and millions of dollars to restore the coral.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on March 16 that it was recalling its ambassador in Ankara, Nadezhda Neynsky, for consultations. The single-sentence statement by the Foreign Ministry gave no reason why Neynsky was being called back to Sofia, but the development comes amid continuing controversy about reported interference by Turkey in Bulgaria’s March 26 early parliamentary elections. In diplomatic practice, recalling an ambassador for consultations is generally seen as a second stage of protest after formally summoning a foreign country’s ambassador, but is a stop short of suspending diplomatic relations. The Turkish ambassador in Sofia, Süleyman Gökçe, was summoned to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on March 7, to hear a protest from caretaker Deputy Foreign Ministry Boiko Mirchev following reports about a Turkish cabinet minister having called on Bulgarians in Turkey to vote for Lyutvi Mestan’s DOST party.
A Slovaki envoy to Kenya collapsed and died at the embassy in Nairobi on Tuesday. The cause of death remains unclear but police said they are investigating the matter. His body was taken to the mortuary for a postmortem on Wednesday morning.
Turkey has suspended high-level diplomatic ties with the Netherlands and the Dutch ambassador to Ankara will not be allowed to return from leave, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said. The Dutch government’s conduct “is unacceptable by any standards”, he said. The move comes amid tensions after Amsterdam deported a Turkish minister and banned another. On Saturday, the Dutch government cancelled the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s flight permit to the Netherlands. It then then blocked a convoy carrying Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya and forced her to leave the country under police escort. When Turkish citizens in Rotterdam peacefully protested these developments, they were met by police using batons, dogs and water cannons, in what some analysts called a disproportionate use of force. The events have drawn strong criticism from the Turkish government, which, earlier Monday, sent diplomatic notes to the Netherlands in protest.
The Dutch embassy and consulate in Turkey have been closed off for security reasons, Reuters reported citing Turkish foreign ministry. A mass rally took place outside the consulate in Istanbul after Turkish Foreign Minister was refused landing in the Netherlands. The residences of the Dutch ambassador, charge d’affaires and consul general were also closed off, according to the same source. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said earlier in a statement that Ankara did not want “the Dutch ambassador, currently on leave, to return to his post for some time.” “It has been explained to our counterparts that this grave decision taken against Turkey and the Dutch Turkish community will cause serious problems diplomatically, politically, economically and in other areas,” the statement said, as cited by Reuters. The move follows the Dutch government barring Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam. Initially, Cavusoglu was to speak at a rally organized by Ankara to promote the referendum on amending the Turkish constitution among Turks living in the Netherlands. The withdrawal of permission for Cavusoglu to land was condemned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who lashed out at Dutch officials, calling them “Nazi remnants, fascists.” Just hours before the shutdown of Dutch diplomatic buildings, another top Turkish official, Family Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was blocked from entering a Turkish consulate in Rotterdam by Dutch police. The move has triggered mass protests of Turkish community members outside the building.