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Archive for Belgium

Newsline: Trump nominates sports lovers as UK, Belgium ambassadors

President Donald Trump has nominated the chief executive of an asset management firm to be the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. and a former owner of a baseball team to be ambassador to Belgium. Richard Wood Johnson IV, a longtime supporter of the Republican Party, had been touted by Trump as his likely nomination for the position of U.S. ambassador to the U.K. He has run the New York-based asset management firm The Johnson Company for 30 years and is the owner of the New York Jets, an American football team. In 2006, he was asked to testify before the U.S. Senate over a tax-avoidance scheme he participated in that cost the U.S. Treasury an estimated $300 million. He subsequently repaid the figure. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Belgium, Jamie McCourt, is also a sports fan, having been the president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a baseball team. McCourt, “a prominent entrepreneur and attorney,” backed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and, according to the White House press release announcing her nomination, “speaks French.”


Newsline: Violence Erupts at Protest Near US Embassy in Brussels

Brussels police used tear gas and water cannon in clashes with protesters, as thousands gathered at a trade union rally against austerity on Friday. Violence in the area where many government offices are situated caused a lockdown at the US embassy. Around 25,000 people, according to Brussels police spokeswoman, Ilse Van de Keere, marched against austerity and unemployment. They were faced with a heavy-handed police response. Initially, the trade unions expected to see 40,000 demonstrators on the streets of Brussels. Some demonstrators threw oranges and cobblestones at police. Violent clashes also took place near the US embassy.


Newsline: Belgium’s Foreign Minister lashes out against foreign diplomats

Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has had it with foreign diplomats failing to pay traffic fines. Diplomats working in Brussels refused to pay no fewer than 971 fines in the past 3 years, De Tijd reveals. Mr Reynders also mentions particular embassies by name. Over the past 3 years, the Foreign Office was informed about 971 cases of unpaid fines related to parking tickets or traffic offences. The diplomats are abusing the Vienna Treaty on Diplomatic Relations, it can be heard. At present, the Foreign Office sends the embassy or diplomat in question a reminder, but Mr Reynders admits that the cases do not receive a follow-up afterwards. The minister also mentioned names. Where the traditional embassies are concerned, he highlights Saudi Arabia and India as “bad payers”. Where the Permanent Representatives to NATO are concerned, the Turkish diplomats are getting a lashing. As to the European institutions in Brussels, the Permanent Representatives of Greece, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia and Cyprus are receiving a warning by the minister.


Newsline: Man with knife arrested at Israeli embassy in Brussels

A man wearing a knife was recently arrested before the entrance of the Israeli embassy in Brussels, Belgian press reports said. Police and public prosecutor confirmed the reports. The man, a Belgian converted to Islam and who appeared to be mentally unstable, was stopped by security agents and later turned to the Belgian police for questioning. A second man, of Iranian citizenship, was also arrested when he appeared to be monitoring activities around the embassy building located in Uccle, a Brussels municipality. The building houses the embassy to Belgium and the Mission to the EU. After being questioned by police on their possible links with terrorist operations, the two men have been released. Belgian police assured that there was no link between the two arrests but Israeli authorities reportedly expressed concern over the incidents and the release of the two men.


Newsline: Ecuador closes 9 embassies due to “lack of reciprocity”

Nine of Ecuador’s embassies around the world, including its embassy in Portugal, are to close due to a lack of reciprocity and a desire to cut costs, President Rafael Correa announced. “We have 49 embassies around the world but eleven of these countries do not have any reciprocity and thus without any ambassadors accredited to Ecuador,” explained Correa before identifying the Ecuadorian Embassies to Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Austria, Australia and Malaysia as among those slated for shutdown. “There will be a significant reduction in costs and savings to the country,” the president emphasised before adding that he was being “realistic” as while India might not need an embassy in Quito, Ecuador needed representation to New Delhi.


Newsline: Belgium keeps embassy in Cairo closed

Belgium kept its embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo closed after security forces moved in to disperse protestors demanding the reinstatement of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The decision to close the embassy was made due to safety concerns of the staff, Belgian media reported. The Belgian Foreign Office is urging Belgian holiday makers to leave Egypt. Those staying in Cairo are advised to stay indoors.


Newsline: Belgium closes its embassy in Malta due to cost-cutting

Belgium has closed down its embassy in Malta, Times of Malta has learnt. The Belgian government decided to close its mission in Malta a few weeks ago together with a number of other embassies around the world as part of cost-cutting measures, a spokesman for the Belgian Foreign Ministry confirmed.