Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Belgium

Newsline: Belgium, Luxembourg summons Israeli ambassador over Gaza massacre

Luxembourg’s Foreign Ministry summoned Israeli Ambassador to his country Simona Frankel for reprimand and protest over the massacre committed by the Israeli occupation forces on Monday on the Gaza Strip border. It is noteworthy that Frankel, who is also envoy to Belgium, was summoned for a similar conversation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium. “Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders called in Frankel after she claimed that all Palestinians killed in border clashes earlier in the week were “terrorists”, The Time of Israel reported. Summoning of Frankel comes one day after Ireland had summoned the Israeli ambassador the country.



Newsline: Police suspect arson after fire at Stockholm embassy building injures 14

Police in Stockholm have arrested a man on suspicion of arson after a fire at an embassy building injured 14 people. The alarm was raised about the fire at the Narvavägen building housing the embassies of Portugal, Tunisia, Argentina and Belgium as well as apartments and a restaurant at around lunchtime on Wednesday afternoon. “The operation is still ongoing. Around 14 people have been affected by the fire, with no serious injuries but smoke and minor injuries,” Stockholm police press spokesperson Kjell Lindgren told The Local. “The latest information from the fire fighters is that there’s no one left in the building, but they’re still working to extinguish the fire in the apartment section.” Lindgren said police were looking to speak to a person who they “think could have something to do with” the incident, with a description released to the public in an effort to locate him. Asked if it’s thought the fire was started deliberately, Lindgren affirmed “we think it was lit by someone, which is why we’ve started an investigation into arson”. An arrest was made in central Stockholm just after 2pm on Wednesday, with a man arrested suspected of arson on reasonable grounds (the lower degree of suspicion according to Swedish law).


Newsline: Turkish Embassy in Belgium comes under paint attack

A group of 10 to 12 people attacked the Turkish Embassy and consulate general buildings with paint in Brussels on Sunday. Diplomatic sources said the assailants threw red paint on the front area of the buildings. Police officers arrived after the attack to investigate the incident. The buildings were later cleaned up following the incident. Attacks on Turkish buildings in Europe have intensified after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove the PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.


Newsline: Belgium becomes first country to make a woman its ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Belgium has become the first country in the world to appoint a woman as its ambassador to Saudi Arabia, in an apparent show of defiance to the oil-rich autocracy notorious for its abuses of women’s rights. Dominique Mineur, who is currently posted in the United Arab Emirates, will move to the Saudi capital Riyhad to head up the embassy there from next summer, Belgian public broadcaster VRT reports. The public broadcaster cites Belgian government sources saying Ms Mineur’s appointment sends a “clear signal” to Saudi Arabia, which has been slow to reform in comparison to its neighbouring countries.


Newsline: Belgian prince has his £280k state allowance cut after embarrassing diplomatic incident at Chinese embassy

Prince Laurent of Belgium has caused a royal scandal after revealing he attended celebrations to mark the founding of the Chinese army. The prince, who is the younger brother of King Philippe, posted photos of himself attending the event online despite being banned by Prime Minister Charles Michel. Mr Michel issued a decree last December barring Prince Laurent from attending any talks with senior foreign officials without informing the government after a series of controversial meetings, including with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister warned Prince Laurent at the time that his €308,000-per-year (£280,000) salary was at risk, and is now thought to be mulling a fine of up to €30,000 (£28,000). The celebration marking the founding of the People’s Liberation Army was held at the Chinese embassy in Brussels on 19th July, but it was not known at the time that the prince had attended. Controversy began this week after the prince, who is married to British-born Princess Claire, a former surveyor, a posted images of the event on Twitter.


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.