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Newsline: EU in talks with US over embassy ‘downgrade’

The European Union said it is in talks with US officials after President Donald Trump’s administration reportedly “downgraded” the bloc’s embassy in Washington, in the latest blow to transatlantic relations. The US State Department lowered the EU mission’s diplomatic status from member state to international organisation late last year, according to a report by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The move apparently only came to light when the EU ambassador in Washington did not receive an invitation to the funeral of former US president George H W Bush in December, DW reported. “We understand that there was a recent change in the way the diplomatic precedence list is implemented by the United States’ Protocol,” Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the European Commission’s diplomatic service, told AFP in an email. “We are discussing with the relevant services in the administration possible implications for the EU Delegation in Washington.” Kocijancic confirmed the EU was not notified of the change and said the bloc expected “the diplomatic practice established some years ago to be observed”. The news comes at a sensitive moment for EU-US relations, with the bloc’s top trade negotiator Cecilia Malmstrom on her way to Washington to try to breathe life into efforts to strike a trade deal and calm raging commercial tensions.



Newsline: DR Congo orders EU ambassador to leave over sanctions ahead of polls

Just three days before the much-anticipated elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government has ordered the European Union ambassador to leave the country within 48 hours due to the body’s protracted sanctions against the governing party’s presidential candidate. The decision was announced by the Foreign Ministry after a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Kinshasa and comes two years after sanctions were first imposed, the Reuters news agency reports. The EU, last year, sanctioned the governing party’s candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, for frustrating the electoral process in Congo and for a clampdown against protestors who were angry over the election delay. The sanctions consist of a ban to enter the EU and an asset freeze of 14 people, including Shadary, who is also a former interior minister, according to EU Observer. Shadary was introduced as the candidate to replace current president Joseph Kabila, whose term ended in 2016, but had stayed on as elections were continuously postponed over the past two years.


Newsline: EU recalls Tanzania ambassador

The European Union has recalled its ambassador to Tanzania, citing “the deterioration of the human rights and rule of law situation” in the East African country where one regional official last week called for the outing and arrests of homosexuals. A statement emailed to The Associated Press said the EU will be conducting a broad review of its relations with Tanzania. The statement does not cite specific issues, but there are fears of an impending crackdown against homosexuals after Dar es Salaam Commissioner Paul Makonda urged Tanzanians to spy on suspected gays and lesbians and to report their activities. Tanzania’s government has since issued a statement saying Makonda stated his opinion and does not speak for the administration. Tanzania’s government will continue abiding by all international treaties on human rights to which it has committed, it said, adding that it protects all human rights guaranteed in the country’s constitution.


Newsline: Debt-dodging diplomat’s time in New Zealand is up, but money might yet be paid

The diplomat at the centre of a row over unpaid rent for a flash seaside house in Wellington is leaving the country, but her landlord still hopes he will be paid the money he is owed. Eva Tvarozkova, deputy chief of mission for the European Union Delegation to New Zealand, has finished her term and is on the eve of departing New Zealand. Her departure was unconnected to the Tenancy Tribunal case over unpaid rent, the delegation’s political adviser, Lucy Ross said. Her lease of a $1500 a week home in Karaka Bay was supposed to be a three-year tenancy but was abandoned after about six months. Landlords Matthew Ryan and Rebecca Van Den Bos obtained a Tenancy Tribunal order on March 22 awarding them $14,314.27. They should also have got the $6000 bond the tenant paid. But the order was overturned when diplomatic immunity was used to avoid paying the bill. However, Ryan hopes the delegation will make good on an offer to resolve the matter. The European Union and European External Action Service, which oversees EU diplomats, has cleared Tvarozkova. They reviewed the documents and said she complied with her obligations under the lease, according to a statement they issued. In pointing out the immunity to the Tenancy Tribunal they took the necessary legal steps to oppose the landlord’s claims and to protect a staff member from an action it considered unfounded in fact and in law, they said.


Newsline: EU diplomat uses immunity to avoid rent in New Zealand

A European Union staffer has dodged a bill worth thousands of dollars to a landlord by invoking diplomatic immunity in New Zealand. A tribunal in March ordered the EU Delegation’s deputy head of mission in New Zealand, Eva Tvarozkova, to pay $NZ20,000 ($A18,326) to her landlord for unpaid rent and property damage at a Wellington house. Although she didn’t contest the original hearing, Ms Tvarozkova’s lawyers later returned to the tenancy body and argued, as a diplomat, she didn’t have to foot the bill. While New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lobbied the European delegation to consider waiving immunity, it had no luck, and the tribunal has now overturned its decision, saying Ms Tvarozkova was indeed protected.


Newsline: EU refusing to waive diplomatic immunity in rental stoush in New Zealand

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) is seeking to waive diplomatic immunity in an expensive tenancy dispute. It’s come up against a road block – the European Union. A landlord who rented his high-end house to a diplomat says he was left “high and dry” after a diplomat walked away with $14,000 owed in rent and damage to the property. The Tenancy Tribunal ruled landlords Matthew Ryan and Rebecca Den Bos were owed the money from tenant Eva Tvarozkova, European Union first secretary and deputy head of mission. Diplomats are entitled to automatic diplomatic immunity from New Zealand courts. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) initially told the tribunal it should never have got involved, because Ms Tvarozkova is entitled to diplomatic immunity. The Ministry planned to appeal to the tribunal next month.


Newsline: EU Ambassador Back In Moscow After Recall

EU Ambassador to Russia Markus Ederer has resumed his duties in Moscow. According to the EU spokesperson, Brussels had received valuable information during the course of the consultations with the ambassador. “He was recalled for consultations, which had special significance ahead of the EU Council meeting (which will take place on April 16 in Luxembourg). The consultations are now over, and he has resumed his duties,” the spokesperson noted. The diplomat stressed that the ambassador’s return to Moscow is key for maintaining the unity of EU members and preserving communication with Russia. “The ambassador plays an important role in preserving the unity of the EU and open political dialogue with Russia,” he stressed.