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Archive for Switzerland

Newsline: In unusual move, Japan names Yomiuri Chairman ambassador to Switzerland

The government on Friday named Kojiro Shiraishi, chairman of the conservative media conglomerate Yomiuri Shimbun group, as its new ambassador to Switzerland. The appointment of Shiraishi, 72, is a rare case of a media figure becoming a top envoy. He fills the vacancy left by the resignation in April of Etsuro Honda, one of the key architects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies, known as Abenomics. (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/30/national/japan-names-yomiuri-chairman-kojiro-shiraishi-ambassador-switzerland/#.XWlZYY1RU8o) Shiraishi, a former political reporter, rose through the newspaper’s ranks to become group president in June 2011. He also served as owner of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team before becoming group chairman in June 2016. As head of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, he sat on the government panel that helped choose Japan’s new era name, Reiwa. Japan on Friday also named ambassadors to Bangladesh, Belarus, Denmark, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Zambia and its mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Newsline: Iran Summons Swiss, UAE Envoys Over U.S. Drone Incident

Iran has summoned the United Arab Emirates’ top envoy to Tehran to protest the neighboring Arab nation’s allowing the U.S. to use a base there to launch a drone that Iran says entered its airspace. The June 22 report by the official IRNA news agency said Iran issued a “strong protest” to the UAE diplomat, saying Iran does not tolerate the facilitation of foreign forces that violate its territory. The U.S. says its RQ-4A Global Hawk was shot down on June 20 over international waters, not inside Iranian airspace. (https://time.com/5612728/iran-uae-envoy-drone-incident/) On June 21, Iran summoned Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner to hear Iran’s protest over the alleged violation. Switzerland looks after U.S. interests in Iran. Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations since 1979. Iran says the U.S. drone was a “very dangerous provocation.”

Newsline: Embassy of Switzerland in London seeks mediator who can use art for peace

Swiss peacekeeping is extending to the art world with a new post offered by the embassy of Switzerland in the UK focusing on the role of art and artistic practice in mediation processes. The occupation of research analyst: art/artistic practice in peace mediation is a full-time post beginning in September (the deadline is 30 June). Candidates must have graduated in either peace, mediation and conflict research or in art and/or anthropology. The salary remains confidential. Asked why the post is advertised now in these turbulent political times, a spokeswoman for the embassy says: “Mediation is one of the core tasks of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and contributes towards the fulfilment of the Swiss constitutional provisions on the promotion of democracy and peace in the world.” (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/arty-swiss-diplomacy-embassy-of-switzerland-in-london-seeks-mediator-who-can-use-art-for-peace) The successful candidate will be required to organise an international symposium on the topic due to take place 2021 in collaboration with the Human Security Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Berne.

Newsline: Venezuelan opposition sets up rival embassy in Geneva restaurant

Venezuela’s political crisis is also having repercussions in Switzerland, where two rival embassies – in Bern and Geneva – claim to represent the official voice of the troubled South American country. The Venezuelan embassy in Bern is the longstanding official diplomatic mission of the Caracas authorities, under the control of President Nicolás Maduro. However, a small Venezuelan restaurant in Geneva, the main meeting point of Maduro’s opponents in Switzerland, has effectively become a rival embassy, under the authority of the self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó. In Switzerland, two ambassadors each claim to be the legitimate diplomatic representative of Venezuela. Guaidó appointed Maria-Alejandra Aristeguieta, a former United Nations diplomat and anti-Maduro activist, to represent him in Switzerland. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-tussle_venezuelan-opposition-sets-up-rival-embassy-in-geneva-restaurant/45011138) She has been working on her own out of the Geneva restaurant to establish as many contacts as possible with the authorities and powers in Switzerland. Experienced ambassador César Osvelio Méndez González works in Bern. His message is simple: President Maduro’s power is strong, as is the Venezuelan embassy in Switzerland.

Newsline: Molotov cocktails hit Turkish Consulate in Zurich

Turkey’s Consulate in the Swiss city of Zurich was attacked by a Molotov cocktail in the early hours of April 22, said the Turkish consul serving there. Asiye Nurcan İpekçi told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency that the attack came at 2.51 a.m. local time (0051GMT) but no one was hurt and the building suffered no damage. She added that there were previous attacks on the consulate but this latest wasn’t claimed by any group. (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/molotov-cocktails-hit-turkish-consulate-in-zurich-142865) The police detained three young people over the attack, she said, but had no further details about them. Over the last two-and-a-half years, the Turkish Consulate has suffered from six attacks. In May 2017, people wearing balaclavas vandalized the consulate with paints and wrote “Kill Erdoğan” on a nearby bus stop and building. In January 2018, an official car at the consulate was targeted by an arson attack.

Newsline: Anarchists Break Into Switzerland’s Embassy in Athens

Members of the Rubicon anarchist group stormed the Swiss Embassy building in Athens on Monday morning. Ten people have been detained so far, the Greek AMNA news agency reported. According to police, as cited by the news agency, the embassy’s staff and private security officers said they are not looking to press charges against the anarchists (https://sputniknews.com/europe/201902181072530040-rubicon-anarchist-group-greece-switzerland-embassy/). Therefore, it is highly likely that the detained will be released. This is not the first time Rubicon has carried out such an attack. For instance, on 21 October, the group targeted the Embassy of Canada in Athens, breaking glass doors near the entrance. Moreover, it previously attacked the embassies of Spain, France, Germany, Iran, and Israel. Despite the international community’s requests, authorities have failed to stop the attacks.

Newsline: Swiss ambassador to Germany laughs off prop fiasco

The new Swiss ambassador to Germany had a rather inauspicious start to the job on Wednesday but was able to see the humour in the situation. Paul Seger was wrapping up his recorded welcome message when things went south. Just after Bern’s new man in Germany expressed his desire that the Swiss embassy in Berlin would be a “house of friendship” and a “meeting place”, the wind picked up, knocking over the German and Swiss flags beside him. There was not a hint of icy Swiss diplomacy as the new ambassador burst out laughing. The embassy didn’t try and hide the incident either, posting the resulting footage on Twitter. Seger replaces Christine Schraner Burgener as the Swiss ambassador to Germany. Schraner Burgener was named the UN Special Envoy on Myanmar in May while Seger was formerly head of mission in Yangon.