Archive for Belgium
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Niger’s ambassador to Belgium and his wife have been found dead at their residence, apparently the victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, the embassy says. The bodies of Issaka Djibo, 61, and his wife, Fatouma, 50, were found in their bedroom by their daughter, alerted by an embassy employee who had not heard from the ambassador. Initial findings suggested the couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty heater. The ambassador took up his post in January last year.