Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for France

Newsline: Iranian diplomat in Austria held over Paris bomb plot

Austria is preparing to strip the diplomatic immunity from an Iranian envoy suspected of planning to bomb Iranian politicians in France. The diplomat and two other arrested people are suspected of plotting to attack a meeting of exiled opposition members in Paris last weekend. Tehran denies any involvement. The diplomatic tension comes a day before President Hassan Rouhani is due to arrive in Austria to discuss a disputed nuclear deal. Two Belgian nationals apprehended in Brussels are reported to be husband and wife, and to be of Iranian origin. The Iranian diplomat, identified as Assadollah A, is ordinarily based in the Austrian capital. But he was arrested in Germany.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44696311

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Newsline: French ambassador to Hungary replaced after pro-Orban memo leaked

President Emmanuel Macron replaced the French ambassador to Hungary over the weekend after a confidential memo in which the envoy praised Hungarian leader Viktor Orban’s migrant policy was leaked to the press. Pascale Andreani was named as the new ambassador to Budapest to replace Eric Fournier, who will take on other functions, a decree published in the official gazette on Saturday showed. In the confidential note dated June 18, which was addressed to Macron’s office and was published by investigative website Mediapart, Fournier said Hungary was a “model” for dealing with migrants and that accusations of populism against Orban were media fabrications. The former ambassador also wrote that French media, by accusing Hungary of antisemitism, were seeking to distract attention from the “real antisemitism” coming from “Muslims in France and Germany”. Asked about the note on Friday, Macron said he did not share the ambassador’s views and that the confidential note did not represent official French policy.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-diplomacy/macron-replaces-hungary-ambassador-after-pro-orban-memo-leaked-idUSKBN1JS0L6

Newsline: France appoints Iran ambassador as Syria envoy

The current French ambassador to Iran Francois Senemaud has been named as President Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for Syria. The appointment was announced at the weekly cabinet meeting. Senemaud, 61, is expected to leave Tehran in August, Benjamin Griveaux, the government spokesman, told a weekly news briefing and added that France is “not reopening” its embassy. In 2012, France closed its embassy in Syria without formally breaking off diplomatic relations. Franck Gellet, 54, who has just been appointed as French ambassador to Qatar, was working as French envoy to Syria since 2014.

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/france-appoints-iran-ambassador-as-syria-envoy-3414952

Newsline: Italy Summons French Ambassador in Row Over Migrant Ship

Italy’s foreign minister summoned the French ambassador to Rome in an escalating row over the Italian government’s decision to block access for a migrant rescue ship. Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi summoned the ambassador to a morning meeting “following the statements made yesterday in Paris on the Aquarius affair,” his ministry said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that Italy was “cynical and irresponsible” over the migrant vessel which had been left stranded in the Mediterranean after Italy and Malta refused to grant it permission to dock. International law says the country with the nearest coastline is responsible for welcoming ships in distress, Macron told a cabinet meeting, according to government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigrant League, has spearheaded a hardline stand on curbing arrivals from across the Mediterranean as a priority for the new populist coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. The Aquarius, with some 600 people saved from the sea over the last few weeks, is sailing to Spain after the country agreed to welcome the ship.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-13/italy-summons-french-ambassador-in-row-over-migrant-ship

Newsline: France to reopen Gambia Embassy

The foreign affairs minister, J-Baptiste Leymone also announced that France would reopen its embassy in Gambia’s capital, Banjul. The diplomatic office was closed in November 2013, with France explaining that Jammeh’s regime was not open to any productive collaboration, making the office redundant and costly to maintain.

http://www.africanews.com/2018/05/29/france-to-reopen-embassy-in-the-gambia-pledges-58m-development-financing/

Newsline: Britons in France grill ambassador over post-Brexit rights

It was supposed to be a simple mission to update British nationals in Paris about their rights after Brexit. The setting was the 18th-century embassy building, the backdrop to centuries of British diplomacy. Instead Edward Llewellyn, the British ambassador, was subjected to a two-hour roasting by angry British nationals. “I went there seeking reassurance and I came away terrified about my future,” Ian Fox, a senior executive at an internationally renowned consumer brand in Paris, told the Guardian after the meeting. Lord Llewellyn, who was formerly David Cameron’s chief of staff, started out with a prepared speech about the “considerable progress” Brexit negotiators had made, explaining how he understood their “anxieties and concerns”. But he ended up being heckled and laughed at when he told them Theresa May had prioritised their rights. “Feel the temperature in the room,” one man shouted.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/11/britons-in-france-grill-ambassador-over-post-brexit-rights

Newsline: Italy summons French ambassador over cross-border urine test

The Italian foreign ministry summoned France’s ambassador, after uniformed French customs officers crossed the border to confront a man suspected of carrying drugs. France insisted the presence of its personnel at an alpine railway station just inside Italy was acceptable. However, the French ambassador, Christian Masset, was summoned over what Rome called “a serious act considered outside the scope of cooperation between states sharing a border”. The foreign ministry added that the neighbouring countries would address the issue further at a meeting in Turin on 16 April. The dispute began late on Friday when the French officials turned up at a train station in the Italian alpine village of Bardonecchia and told a man to provide a urine sample. The Rainbow4Africa NGO, which has for months occupied part of the train station to help migrants headed for France, filed a complaint about the treatement of the man, who is from Nigeria. Italian officials reacted with outrage, prompting an official explanatory statement from the French embassy. Gerald Darmanin, the French minister charged with overseeing customs, signed the statement which explained how French officials came to be present when the Paris-bound train arrived from Milan. “These uniformed agents identified as French customs officials suspected one passenger, a Nigerian national resident in Italy, of having drugs on his person. “In line with article 60 bis of the customs code the agents asked the person if he would consent to providing a urine sample to detect drugs which he agreed to do in writing,” the statement read. “In order to carry out the test in conditions respecting the person, the agents waited until the train arrived to use the facility at Bardonecchia station which was placed at the disposal of French customs,” the statement went on, saying the procedure respected guidelines laid down in 1990. The French officials duly carried out the test which came back negative. But the Italian foreign ministry said France had failed to keep them fully abreast of developments, and criticised the incident as “unacceptable”. Matteo Salvini, the head of Italy’s far-right League, commented that Rome, “instead of expelling Russian diplomats should remove French diplomats”, referring to the furore over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, widely blamed on Moscow.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/01/italy-france-cross-border-urine-test-drugs