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Archive for Germany

Newsline: Hostel at North Korea’s Berlin embassy must close

A German court ruled on Tuesday that a hostel situated on the grounds of the North Korean embassy in Berlin must close as its operation breaches sanctions aimed at stopping the flow of hard currency to Pyongyang. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-northkorea-hostel/hostel-at-north-koreas-berlin-embassy-must-close-german-court-rules-idUSKBN1ZR244) The embassy, a Cold War legacy of North Korea’s diplomatic relations with Communist East Germany, has continued to operate since German reunification in 1990, with one of its buildings turned into a low-cost hostel popular with backpackers. The hostel’s operators lease the premises from the embassy for 38,000 euros ($42,157.20) per month under a contract agreed in 2016, the Berlin administrative court said, but it ruled this breached U.N. sanctions and a European Union directive.

Newsline: German foreign ministry backtracks after sense of humor failure

Social media can be a minefield for the strait-laced world of diplomacy, as the German Foreign Office just found out, when it was forced to delete a tweet and apologize for its contribution to a mildly off-color Twitter meme. The meme was the hashtag #SeduceSomeonein4Words. Submissions ranged from “You hungry? I’m cooking” to “Donald Trump Is Impeached”. Then @GermanyDiplo, the foreign ministry’s English-language channel, came up with “Your visa got approved”. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-diplomacy/german-foreign-ministry-backtracks-after-sense-of-humor-failure-idUSKBN1ZG17Z) That got hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes. But it also got a fair amount of criticism, much of it from people suffering through the process of acquiring a German visa.

Newsline: UK and Germany condemn arrest of Britain’s Tehran ambassador

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the arrest of Britain’s ambassador to Tehran, a spokesman from Johnson’s office said in a statement issued after the two leaders spoke on Sunday. “On Iran, they discussed the tragic loss of life on the Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet. They condemned Iran’s arrest of the UK Ambassador to Tehran as a violation of international law,” the spokesman said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-crash-britain-germany/uk-and-germany-condemn-arrest-of-britains-tehran-ambassador-uk-pms-office-idUSKBN1ZB0G1) “The leaders also discussed our shared interests in ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, and reaffirmed their continued commitment to preserving the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal).”

Newsline: Iran summons German diplomat over ‘destructive’ Soleimani statements

Iran summoned Germany’s charge d’affaires in Tehran on Sunday to protest against “destructive” comments made by some German officials supporting the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. air strike in Iraq. “Iran strongly criticized inappropriate, insubstantial and destructive remarks of some German officials,” Iranian state TV reported. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-iran-germany/iran-summons-german-diplomat-over-destructive-soleimani-statements-tv-idUSKBN1Z40O2) A German government spokeswoman said on Friday that the U.S. strike which killed Soleimani was a response to Iranian military provocations.

Newsline: Russia expels German diplomats amid dispute

Russia says it is expelling two German diplomats in retaliation for a similar move by Berlin over suspicions that Moscow ordered the killing of an ethnic Chechen in the German capital. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50755417) Last week the German government threw out two Russian diplomats. It suspects Russia or Russia’s Chechen republic ordered the murder in August of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian national. Russia denies involvement. A Russian citizen is being held in Germany over the killing. Berlin said it regretted Thursday’s expulsions, but the Kremlin said they were a standard diplomatic move. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called the man murdered in Berlin a “bandit”, but denied that his country had been involved in his death.

Newsline: Germany Expels Two Russians From Embassy In Berlin

Germany has expelled two Russian diplomats and its federal prosecutors have taken over the case of the slaying of an ethnic Chechen Georgian national in Berlin amid allegations of Russian involvement. The German Foreign Ministry said in a statement on December 4 that two employees of the Russian Embassy in Berlin were deemed “to be persona non grata in accordance with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” (https://www.rferl.org/a/germany-expels-two-russians-from-embassy-in-berlin-moscow-threatens-retaliation/30307299.html) Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, 40, who had previously fought alongside separatists in Russia’s Chechnya region, was shot twice in the head in Kleiner Tiergarten park on August 23. A Russian national suspected of carrying out the killing was arrested shortly afterward. Russia’s Foreign Ministry responded sharply to the news, saying the expulsions were “baseless and unfriendly,” adding that Moscow will “have to undertake a set of response measures.” German and international media outlets reported earlier this week that prosecutors were taking over the case after gathering evidence that “a foreign intelligence agency” was behind the killing. The August 30 investigation did not establish the suspect’s real identity. But in a statement on December 3, Bellingcat claimed that the suspect who had traveled to Berlin under the Sokolov alias is in reality 54-year-old Vadim Krasikov. “In June 2013, Krasikov was the key suspect in the murder of a Russian businessman [in Moscow] who had been the subject of several previous assassination attempts,” Bellingcat said. “The murder in Moscow was similar in many respects to the Berlin assassination — the killer had approached his target on a bicycle, had shot at him with a handgun at close range, both in the back and in the head, and had left on his bike,” Bellingcat said. Krasikov grew up in Kazakhstan before spending time in Siberia, Bellingcat claimed.

Newsline: German ambassador says Turkey should explain charges against arrested lawyer

Germany’s ambassador to Turkey said the arrest of a Turkish lawyer hired by the German embassy is “incomprehensible” and he is pressing Ankara to clarify the charges, according to a statement seen by Reuters. The lawyer was arrested in mid-September, a German official said. “Our legal consultant has provided our Embassy with support that is ordinary from an international perspective and undoubtedly not forbidden. Such cooperation should be possible without any obstacles,” ambassador Martin Erdmann said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-turkey/german-ambassador-says-turkey-should-explain-charges-against-arrested-lawyer-idUSKBN1XW0YT) “This arrest is incomprehensible for us. This is why we are making intense efforts for the charges being mentioned to be made clear, and we have brought this up repeatedly with Turkey,” Erdmann added. Relations between the two countries have been strained over German criticism of President Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on suspected opponents after a failed coup in 2016, and Turkey’s military offensive last month against a Kurdish Syrian militia.