Category Archives: diplomacy

N.Korea diplomat applied for asylum in Italy

North Korea’s top diplomat in Italy has applied for asylum and gone into hiding, Seoul lawmakers told reporters after a closed-door meeting with South Korean intelligence officials.

It would mark the latest high-profile defection by a senior North Korean envoy since the deputy ambassador in London in 2016.

Acting ambassador Jo Song Gil’s term was ending in late November last year and he escaped the diplomatic compound in early November” with his wife, lawmaker Kim Min-ki told reporters.

Jo Song-gil (48), has been acting ambassador in Rome since October 2017 after Italy expelled the then ambassador Mun Jong Nam in protest at a North Korean nuclear test a month earlier in violation of UN resolutions.

Italy is an important diplomatic mission for Pyongyang, as it handles relations with the Rome-headquartered UN Food and Agriculture Organization and North Korea suffers from chronic food shortages.

4.01.2019/ AMENDED:

A North Korean diplomat in Italy said to be seeking asylum is from a “prestigious diplomatic family” with both his father and father-in-law having worked in Pyongyang‘s foreign ministry,  Agency France press reports.

Benalla risks trial over diplomatic passports

Disgraced bodyguard of President Emmanuel Macron, Alexandre Benalla admitted he was using his diplomatic passports, “for personal comfort”, and plans to return “in the coming days,” he told the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), while the Paris prosecutor’s office opened investigation.

The #Benalla cases do not just reveal a malfunction, but a denaturing of our Republic. Emmanuel #Macron  has spoiled so much in so little time“, Marine Le Pen wrote in her Twitter micro blog.

“I may have been wrong to use these passports,Alexandre Benalla told the JDD via telephone from abroad.”But I did it only for personal comfort, to facilitate my passage through the airports. In no way did I use them for my business. I do not see where they could have served me”.

Previously Benalla said to another French media that his visit to Chad ahead of the presidential visit was a “coincidence“.

Macron Idriss Deby

Benalla added in the same conversation to the JDD that he had returned the passports to the Élysée’s services at the end of August but then they were  returned to him with other personal belongings in a pocket, in early October, by a “member of the presidency” during an appointment near the presidential palace.

As far as they were returned, I did not see any reason not to use them,” he explains. He claims he did not lie to the Senate inquiry when he said he had left his passports in his former Elysée office.

A few hours earlier, the Paris prosecutor had announced the opening of a preliminary investigation for “breach of trust” and “use without right of a document justifying a professional quality”.

The Paris public prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, has addressed the Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, after press reports about a trip to Africa by the former aide to the presidency with these passports.

The presidency had pleaded ignorance this week: it said it had “no information from the State services concerned the use by Mr Benalla  of the diplomatic passports that had been awarded to him in the exclusive framework of his services to the President of the Republic

“. “They are  mocking us”, writes French author Oliver Marteau in his Twitter.
“➡️ Any passport can be canceled by the authorities at any time without being physically returned.
➡️ At the 1st crossing of the border the owner of the passport is stopped.
➡️ The authority has knowingly left #Benalla to use these 2 passports” he explains.

French newspaper Le Monde has discovered new details on Benalla voyage to Chad. The former bodyguard of the President Emmanuel Macron arrived to Chad few days ahead of Emmanuel Macron‘s trip.

Macron Idriss Deby

Benalla travlled  by private plane, stayed in a luxury hotel, and his trip did not pass unnoticed, explains Le Monde. A source in the newspaper said that the former “security adviser” to the President, indicted for “willful violence” arrived accompanied by half a dozen people, by private plane, paying fees by Credit cards”.

Fired from Elysée after the national scandal when disguised as policeman he was beating  demonstrators,  Alexandre Benalla traveled to N’Djamena the beginning of December for a brief stay, before leaving by regular airline on 4 December. He reportedly met the brother of Chad‘s President, Oumar Déby, who leads the country’s Directorate-General for Strategic Reserves (DGRS) in charge of arms purchases, according to La Lettre du Continent. Afterward, a loan of €40 million and a donation of €10 million were granted by the Elysee to Chad  so that the regime can pay the salary of civil servants for the month of December, it was said.

 

 

 

UAE reopens Embassy in Damascus

The United Arab Emirates reopens its embassy in Damascus on December 27, the Syrian Information ministry said, a move that would mark an achievement of Syrian diplomacy, and President Bashar al-Assad.

The embassy has been shut since the early months of the Syrian conflict which erupted in 2011, and  Arab state have chosen to support opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

Press has been invited  to cover the event at 1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT) at the embassy located in the capital’s Abu Rummaneh district.

EU ‘Sanctions war’ with Russia continues

On 21 December 2018, the European Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2019.

This decision follows an update from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council of 13-14 December 2018 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the sanctions are linked. Given that no progress has been made, the European Council took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

The West should either recognize the results of Crimea referendum on reunification with Russia,  or stop imposing sanctions against people living in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his traditional annual news conference on December 20.

In his words, “it is a curious situation” as Russia is being accused of Crimea’s annexation or in the other words of taking Crimea by force. “But if it was annexation and forcible takeover, then people living in Crimea have nothing to do with that,” he noted. “And if it was their choice in voting, then it was not annexation whatsoever.”

However not all the political forces in the EU share the European Council point of view: since 2014 Marine Le Pen, the leader of French RN (former Front National) has not seen any reason to dispute the result of the referendum.

I see no grounds whatsoever to question this referendum,” she said. She also added that she regards Crimea as a integral part of Russia. According to TASS News Agency Marine Le Pen “hopes to visit Crimea in April” 2019.

Kurz aims to improve EU-Russia relations

Vienna perceives easing tensions between the European Union and Russia as its priority task for 2019 to ensure long-term peace in Europe in cooperation with Russia, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at press conference, dedicated to the Austrian cabinet’s activities.

Easing tensions in relations with Russia will be a major foreign policy challenge for us in the European Union, as well as ensuring de-escalation in the Ukrainian conflict because it is only possible to ensure long-term peace on our continent by cooperating with Russia, and not by opposing Russia,” he said in response to a question about Vienna’s priority tasks for 2019.

According to Kurz, adopting EU measures to ensure fair and free global trade will be Austria’s second priority. “The second big foreign policy challenge is that as a small export-oriented country, we need fair and free global trade, so the United States’ doubts in this regard pose a threat to Europe and Austria in particular. This is why we, the European Union, need to try to do everything possible to make sure that we have fair and free global trade in the future,” Kurz added.

 

EU delegation in Turkmenistan

Following a decision of Federica Mogherini, the head of the European External Action Service (EEAS) the EU will open a Delegation in Turkmenistan. This will take the number of EU Delegations around the world to 141 in total.

Fast changing regional dynamics and the growing importance of sustainable connectivity between Europe and Asia bring Central Asia to the centre of our attention. Countries in the region, especially Turkmenistan, are increasingly looking to the EU as a reliable partner for reforms, modernisation and to face the global challenges of today”, Federica Mogherini said. ‘And the European Union is keen as well to strengthen its cooperation with the region. By opening a new Delegation, we are responding positively to this demands and sending a strong signal to the Turkmen and European citizens about our engagement.”

“The establishment of a new Delegation in Ashgabat will enable the European Union to step up political, economic and sectoral dialogue and cooperation with Turkmenistan. The decision reflects the EU’s wish to fully engage with Turkmenistan in areas of strategic interest such as security, human rights, energy, climate, and the rule of law” EEAS. 

“The decision by the High Representative/Vice-President follows the agreement of the Commission and the Council of the European Union and will be implemented in the course of 2019” EEAS.

Yemen in focus of EU diplomacy

Today with the Foreign Ministers we will discuss first and foremost the situation in Yemen. I discussed yesterday on the phone with the Special Envoy of the United Nations for Yemen [Martin] Griffiths on how the European Union and the Member States can best support his work in this crucial moment that could be or become an opening for an end to the war in Yemen, one of the most devastating humanitarian catastrophes of our times” said EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini upon her arrival to the EU Foreign ministers meeting.

The EU ministers will continue to work to strengthen European defence.

“In particular today I expect Ministers to see how our Permanent Structure Cooperation is advancing, with 17 new projects to be adopted. And tomorrow, we will have [with us] Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of NATO, to continue our work to strengthen EU-NATO cooperation that is going extremely wellMogherini added.

Ministers will also discuss the situation in Ukraine.

On Monday 19 November, defence ministers have a joined discussion with foreign ministers on EU cooperation in security and defence.

They are reviewing the initiatives part of the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in this area, including the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), the coordinated annual review on defence (CARD), the European defence fund, military mobility, the military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), the civilian CSDP compact and the proposal for a European Peace Facility.

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on security and defence.

 

 

 

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