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Archive for France

Newsline: French ambassador in Bosnia summoned over Macron’s ‘time bomb’ remark

Bosnia’s presidency summoned the French ambassador on Friday to protest over President Emmanuel Macron’s comment that the country is a “time bomb” due to returning Islamist fighters. Macron, commenting on France’s refusal to support the start of negotiations for European Union accession with North Macedonia and Albania, said a real concern for the EU was Bosnia. “If you’re concerned about this region, the first question is neither North Macedonia nor Albania, it’s Bosnia-Herzegovina, the time-bomb that’s ticking right next to Croatia, and which faces the problem of returning jihadists,” Macron said in an interview with British weekly The Economist published on Thursday. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bosnia-macron-reaction/french-ambassador-in-bosnia-summoned-over-macrons-time-bomb-remark-idUSKBN1XI250) Zeljko Komsic, a Croat who currently chairs Bosnia’s inter-ethnic presidency, summoned Ambassador Guillaume Rousson and informed him about the numbers of foreign fighters and Bosnia’s efforts to counter terrorism, the presidency said in a statement. He also invited Macron to visit Bosnia. Macron’s comments prompted angry reactions among Bosnian Muslims who make up a half of the population.

Newsline: China’s Paris embassy blasts France and EU over Hong Kong remarks

Accusing the EU of having “publicly glorified the abuses of rioters”, the embassy said the EU’s call for de-escalation and restraint was “criminal and very dangerous” and amounted to an attack on the Hong Kong police’s right to self-defence. (http://en.rfi.fr/asia-pacific/20191007-china-paris-embassy-blasts-france-and-eu-over-hong-kong-remarks) The embassy reacted to remarks by a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson on October 3 and a similar statement by the EU one day earlier, expressing concern over the use by police of live rounds against the Hong Kong protesters, and saying that fundamental freedoms, including the right of assembly of Hong Kongers must continue to be upheld and the possibility to hold peaceful demonstrations must be ensured.

Newsline: South Sudan backtracks on embassy shutdowns, set to reopen 4

South Sudan has reversed a decision to close down some of its embassies across the world as the country’s president Salva Kiir on Friday ordered the reopening of four diplomatic missions that were closed some months ago. Kiir quashed a previous directive for the closure of some diplomatic missions and ordered the reopening of three embassies in Europe and one in Asia, information minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting. “The president informed the cabinet that he has set aside the order that was made for the closure of some embassies,” Makuie said. (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-08/17/c_138314799.htm) “Those embassies which were closed… another order has been issued reinstating them. These embassies are of Norway, France, Italy and Kuwait… now these embassies will continue to operate,” he added. South Sudan’s foreign ministry announced in May that it was reviewing the status of its 39 embassies and consulates across the world and close some in a bid to reduce operational costs.

Newsline: Vatican lifts immunity of papal diplomat accused of sexual assault in France

The Holy See has waived the diplomatic immunity of a Vatican diplomat who has been under investigation by authorities in Paris for allegedly sexually assaulting a city official. Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican Press Office, said the move was an “extraordinary gesture” that underlined the diplomat’s desire to fully cooperate with French authorities. (https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2019/07/08/vatican-lifts-immunity-papal-diplomat-accused-sexual-assault) In January, prosecutors in Paris had launched a formal investigation into an allegation against Italian Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 74, a Vatican diplomat who has been representing the Holy See in France since 2009. Gisotti confirmed July 8 that the Holy See had waived the diplomat’s immunity in light of the criminal proceedings underway against him in France.

Newsline: French envoy summoned after ambassador to U.S. calls Israel ‘apartheid state’

Israel on Apr. 29 summoned France’s ambassador to Israel, Helene Le Gal, to the Foreign Ministry to protest comments by outgoing French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud, who said that Israel is an apartheid state. “Israel adamantly protested those remarks,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. Senior officials have also reportedly been instructed not to meet Araud, who served from 2003 to 2006 as France’s ambassador to Israel, on an upcoming visit. Earlier in the month, Araud said in an interview with The Atlantic that Israel was already an apartheid state. (https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/French-envoy-summoned-after-ambassador-to-US-calls-Israel-apartheid-state-588263) “The status quo is extremely comfortable for Israel; they [can] have the[ir] cake and eat it [too]. They have the West Bank, but at the same time they don’t have to make the painful decision about the Palestinians – really making them really, totally stateless or making them citizens of Israel. “They won’t make them citizens of Israel, so they will have to make it official – which is – we know the situation, which is an apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are, in fact, already,” Araud said. The French embassy had no comment on Le Gal’s meeting in the Foreign Ministry. Araud, however, clarified in various tweets on on Apr. 30 that he was referring to the West Bank.

Newsline: Iran summons French ambassador over colleague’s tweet

Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reports the foreign ministry has summoned France’s ambassador to Tehran over remarks made on Twitter by his colleague in Washington. Ambassador Philippe Thiebaud was being asked on Apr. 14 to explain why the French ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, had tweeted that “sanctions could be reimposed” on Iran once the 2015 nuclear deal expires after 10 years. Araud said on Apr. 13 that because “Russia is providing enriched uranium” to Iran, Tehran shouldn’t need to be “massively enriching uranium after the JCPOA,” using the acronym for the nuclear deal signed with world powers, including France. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/iran-summons-french-ambassador-over-colleagues-tweet) ISNA says Iran’s foreign ministry has called Araud’s remarks “unacceptable” and in “open violation” of the nuclear deal. Under the nuclear deal, Iran capped its uranium enrichment activities in return to ending sanctions.

Newsline: French ambassador lashes out at German export policies

France’s ambassador to Germany, Anne-Marie Descotes, warned on Mar. 25 that German arms export policies and licensing rules threatened future Franco-German defense projects. The remarks come as the two European nations are seeking to form closer defense cooperation and deepen ties between their parliaments. In an essay published by the German military’s Federal Academy for Security Policy, she said Germany had a tendency to see arms exports as a domestic political issue, but that its policies still “have serious consequences for our bilateral cooperation in the defense sector and the strengthening of European sovereignty.” (https://www.dw.com/en/german-export-policies-threaten-european-defense-projects-french-ambassador/a-48060674) Germany’s unpredictable arms export policies and long waiting times for export licenses are a particular problem, Descotes said. This has an impact on major Franco-German projects to develop new tanks, combat jets and drones. “This situation is untenable,” she wrote. “Realistic export possibilities on the basis of clear and predictable rules are an essential prerequisite for the survival of our European defense industry.” Descotes pointed out that there are no standard procedures for the purchase of military equipment in Europe, something that France supports but that Germany has so far rejected. This has pushed EU member states to purchase arms outside of the continent and is fragmenting the European market.