Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Germany

Newsline: German ambassador allowed to return to Venezuela

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in a statement that Ambassador Daniel Kriener could return to Caracas in the context of a process to “normalize the diplomatic relations between both states.” “Following a series of contacts with the German government, a process of normalization of diplomatic relations between the two states has been started,” the statement continued. (https://www.dw.com/en/german-ambassador-allowed-to-return-to-venezuela/a-49438255) Talks were held in Berlin on July 1 between Venezuela’s Deputy Minister for Europe, Yvan Gil, and the German Foreign Ministry’s Latin America director Marian Schuegraf. Kriener was declared persona non grata by President Nicolas Maduro in March after he and other European ambassadors went to welcome opposition leader Juan Guiado back from a tour of Latin America. Guaido had been seeking support for his campaign to take over as president from Maduro. In February, the German government had recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state. After Monday’s meeting in Berlin, Maduro “decided to nullify” his March statement, and with Kriener’s planned return to Caracas, looked forward to building “an agenda of mutual interest, in accordance with the principles of international cooperation.”

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Newsline: US Ambassador to Germany Appears At Counterprotest to Anti-Israel Rally

Richard Grenell, America’s ambassador to Germany in the Trump era, is infuriating Europeans by standing up to Muslim anti-Semitism. He was participating in a counterprotest to the Al Quds hate rally and urging Merkel to ban the Islamic terror group, Hezbollah. The US Embassy in Germany wrote on its Twitter feed on June 3: “Germany’s federal courts decided years ago that Hezbollah is a unified organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Symbols of Hezbollah are banned, why not the entire organization?” The undersecretary in Germany’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Niels Annen, said shortly after the UK banned Hezbollah in March that Germany won’t designate all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Annen celebrated Iran’s Islamic revolution at the Tehran Embassy in February. Iran’s regime is the chief financial sponsor of Hezbollah.

Newsline: Senior German diplomat in Tehran for nuclear deal talks

A senior German diplomat headed May 23 to Tehran to press Iran to continue to respect the landmark nuclear deal, despite the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. and increasing pressure from Washington. (http://www.startribune.com/senior-german-diplomat-in-tehran-for-nuclear-deal-talks/510315082/) Tensions have soared in the Mideast recently as the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran. In Berlin, the Foreign Ministry said Political Director Jens Ploetner was to hold talks with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Thursday to try salvage the nuclear deal signed in 2015 in Vienna. The accord has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal, re-imposed and escalated U.S. sanctions on Tehran last year. The German envoy’s visit also follows Iran’s declaration earlier this month that the remaining signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — have two months to develop a plan to shield Iran from American sanctions.

Newsline: German Government Refuses to Recognise Guaido’s Envoy as Ambassador

Although Berlin has sided with the US and recognised self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido, it is keeping Otto Gebauer, whom he picked to represent Venezuela in Germany, in limbo and has not granted the representative key diplomatic status. Spain, above all, has reportedly urged fellow EU member states not to recognise him. Although Otto Gebauer, sent to Germany by self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido as his emissary, was received in Berlin, the German government does not plan to accredit him, as the newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung reports, citing the Foreign Ministry’s response to a request by the left-wing party Die Linke. According to it, the German government first received Gebauer as “personal representative of Interim President Guaido” on 13 March 2019 to hold talks with him, but “further steps are not planned”. The outlet also reports that, above all, Spain has called on other EU member states not to grant Guaido’s representatives any diplomatic status or corresponding privileges. (https://sputniknews.com/europe/201903291073648022-venezuela-germany-ambassador/) Since a political crisis broke out in Venezuela in late January, when parliamentary opposition leader Guaido, backed by the US, declared himself the interim president of Venezuela after disputing President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election last May, Germany recognised him as a transitional head of state. Around 50 states, encouraged by the US, did the same. However, the constitutionally elected head of state Nicolas Maduro, supported by Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries, continues to hold power and refuses to step down, accusing Washington of trying to orchestrate a coup in order to install Guaido as a puppet leader. This has led to a paradoxical situation in Germany, leaving it with two Venezuelan emissaries in Berlin but not being able to hold official talks with both of them.

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.

Newsline: German lawmakers want Trump’s ambassador kicked out

A top German politician is calling for the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell, who he says is acting like “a high commissioner of an occupying power.” Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy chairman of the opposition Free Democrats (FDP), called on Germany’s foreign minister to “declare Richard Grenell persona non grata immediately.” (https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/eve93a/german-lawmakers-want-trumps-ambassador-kicked-out) Grenell, a former Republican operative with a penchant for outrageous statements, has angered opposition lawmakers in Germany, who claim he is interfering in sovereign German matters.

Newsline: US ambassador to Germany receives threats

The US ambassador to Germany has been receiving threats including at least one against his life. A photo of one letter seen by CNN which was sent directly to Richard Grenell in January told him to leave Germany or he would be killed. Signed by the “Society for the New Truth,” it was one of several threats that have been sent to the embassy, according to a source familiar and two State Department officials. Grenell’s spokesperson, Joseph Giordono-Scholz told CNN that “we do not publicly discuss security issues and procedures.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/14/politics/us-envoy-germany-grenell-death-threats/index.html) A former Republican political operative and spokesman to the United Nations, Grenell has carved an incendiary path since presenting his diplomatic credentials to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May 2018, clashing with officials, businesses and the media.