May 25, 2019

  • Long live Emperor Maximilian!

    By H.E. Mr. Günther Platter, Landeshauptmann (Governor) of Tirol, Austria. The year 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Emperor Maximilian I. To commemorate this historic event, the State of Tyrol, the City of Innsbruck and Innsbruck Tourismus have proclaimed 2019 The Year of Maximilian.  Numerous activities will take place to honour this versatile and dynamic Habsburg Emperor, who called Tyrol his treasure chest and home. Over 120 events, exhibitions and projects are scheduled both in and outside of Tyrol.  The underlying goal is to raise awareness for the historic figure of Maximilian I and his importance for…

  • International law applies to the digital world too

    By Pauline Krikke, Mayor of The Hague. The Hague likes to bring people together. Whether they be people living in different neighbourhoods of our city, or people from different countries who come to The Hague for a conference. The Hague is pleased to provide a forum for discussion and the exchange of knowledge and ideas. A tradition which dates back to the first Peace Conferences and the building of the Peace Palace. When it was officially opened in the summer of 1913 it attracted a lot of interest. One of the guests arrived in what – for the time –…

  • In Europe We Trust

    By Brândușa Predescu, Ambassador of Romania to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. I vividly remember the day my country, Romania, became a member of the European Union. It was a cold, chilly winter day, but I was overjoyed. I am sure that on that day, the 1st of January 2007, all Romanians felt the same. EU accession was seen by Romania and its people as the natural fulfilment of a national aspiration – a symbolic reintegration with Europe and everything it stands for – freedom, peace, prosperity, security, rule of law, human rights. And now, after 12 years, we have…

  • “SaarLorLux“ as a laboratory for the European Union

    By H.E. Dr. Heinrich Kreft, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. “SaarLorLux” also called the “Greater Region”, consisting of the sovereign state of Luxembourg; Belgium’s Walloon region, comprising the French and German speaking parts of Belgium; Lorraine, a region of France; the French départements Moselle and Meurthe-et- Moselle; and the German federal states of Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate is the EU’s area with the highest cross-border mobility. More than 240.000 people cross the national borders of Luxembourg, Germany, France and Belgium every day. The close bonds between today’s border regions share a history of…

  • International public opinion deserves to know the truth

    By H.E. Ms. Soraya Alvarez, Ambassador of Cuba to the Kingdom of The Netherlands. The Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in the Kingdom of The Netherlands refers to measures announced last April 17th by the current US Administration which reflect the progressive and declared the intention to deteriorate bilateral relations and tight its unilateral and illegal sanctions against Cuba. The measures are aimed at further reducing the very limited trade exchange between Cuba and the USA and specifically attack the Cuban financial sector. There is an extremely extraterritorial persecution in place, intended to hinder third-country entities and business persons, threatening…

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Diplomatic News

U.S. and EU discuss their foreign policy in the MENA region

Apr 29, 2019

By Guido Lanfranchi. In mid-April, the U.S. State Department and the European External Action Service held their regular dialogue on their foreign policies in the Middle East and North Africa. On the agenda there were the many tense situations unfolding in the region, chiefly the current crisis in Libya. Traditional allies such as the United States and the European Union try to cooperate on as many issues as possible. As foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa region is crucial for both sides, the two parties usually hold regular policy dialogues on this matter, generally twice a year,…

U.S.-Iran standoff: no more waivers will be allowed for oil imports from Iran

Apr 29, 2019

By Guido Lanfranchi. Starting in May 2019, the United States will not grant any further waivers to its sanctions regime against Iranian oil exports. The move is part of the U.S. “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran, which started one year ago with the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal. “We have imposed the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. We’re going to continue to apply pressure on the regime until its leaders decide to start behaving more like a normal nation and less like a revolutionary cause”. These were the words of Mr. Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative…

La Francophonie’s SG Louise Mushikiwabo’s maiden trip to Belgium 

Apr 29, 2019

25 April 2019, Brussels, Kingdom of Belgium: the IV Secretary General of La Francophonie Louise Mushikiwabo was received in audience by His Majesty The King of the Belgians at Laeken Castle. Madame Mushikiwabo presented the monarch with her plans to reanimate the institutions she leads, making it more conspicuous worldwide as well as more vocal.  Belgium is a founding member of La Francophonie in 1970. Previous to her regal engagement Secretary-General Mushikiwabo was hosted by Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel at Lambermont for a working luncheon. Both dignitaries discussed tentative reforms to be launched during the celebrations of La Francophonie’s 50th jubilee in 2020, or more precisely during…

U.S. to ratchet up pressure on Cuba through the Libertad Act

Apr 22, 2019

By Guido Lanfranchi. Since May 2nd, the United States’ administration will not suspend Title III of the Libertad Act, a historic policy reversal that will step up the U.S. pressure campaign on Cuba. The move comes as a condemnation of Cuba’s domestic political situation, as well as the island’s support for the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua. The Libertad Act (also known as Helms-Burton Act) was passed by Congress in 1996 to strengthen the pressure applied by the United States on Cuba after the Communist Revolution of 1959. In one of its crucial passages, known as Title III, the Act…

WEF at Dead Sea in Jordan

Apr 18, 2019

6-7 April 2019, Dead Sea, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) ended with a call for its stakeholders to increase collaboration on social, economic and climate issues. It should help the region “punch at its weight” instead of below it, co-chairs of the meeting said in the closing plenary. The co-chairs of this year’s meeting were: Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bahrain; Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates; Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of Tourism of Egypt; Alain Bejjani, Chief Executive Officer,…

70 ans de relations diplomatiques belgo-indonésiennes

Apr 15, 2019

« 70 ans de relations diplomatiques belgo-indonésiennes : renforcer davantage la coopération entre les deux peuples » Savez-vous que cette année l’Indonésie et la Belgique fêtent le 70e anniversaire de leurs relations diplomatiques ? Au fil des années, des liens d’amitié se sont profondément tissés entre les deux pays qui se reflètent dans plusieurs domaines d’activités. Les relations entre les deux pays ont débuté depuis 1947 lorsque Dr. Paul Van Zeeland, alors sénateur coopté, a été choisi comme membre du « Comité des Trois Nations », aux côtés de l’Australien Richard Kirby et de l’Américain Dr. Frank P. Graham, dans le cadre des bons offices pour le règlement du conflit entre l’Indonésie et…

U.S. DEA Administrator visits Belgium and the Netherlands

Apr 15, 2019

By Guido Lanfranchi. In early April, Mr. Uttam Dhillon, Acting Administrator for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, visited Belgium and the Netherlands. During the visit, Mr. Dhillon discussed DEA’s cooperation with the European Union and visited the Port of Antwerp. Mr. Dhillon, head of the renowned U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, arrived in Belgium in the wake of a recent visit to Colombia. The combination of these two visits – he said – shows to observers that there is a strong transatlantic link between the cocaine sold in Europe (as well as in the United States) and the powerful South American…

European ministers conference rally before the EU elections

Apr 9, 2019

European Affairs ministers summit – Picture by Land NRW, Mark Hermenau. Wednesday, 27 March 2019, Stadium Borussia Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany: Under the pro tempore chairmanship of NRW Minister for Federal, European and International Affairs, Dr. Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner, hosted his colleagues and deputies in charge of European affairs to call for a stark participation at the elections for the European parliament taking place on 26 May, for a Europe of the “rule of law, freedom of the press and speech”.   A panel discussion highlighting the significance and achievements of the European Union was moderated by Cherno Jobatey with the participation of Minister Dr. Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner, the…

NATO allies prepare for the 70th anniversary celebrations

Apr 8, 2019

Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, Permanent Representative of the United States to NATO. By Guido Lanfranchi. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is getting ready for the celebration of its 70th anniversary. Foreign Ministers and diplomats from all allied countries will gather in Washington, D.C. on April 3rd-4th, with the double aim of celebrating the organization’s anniversary and discussing issues such as burden sharing, counterterrorism, and emerging threats. It was on April 4th, 1949, in the wake of World War II, that twelve European and North American states officially signed the North Atlantic Treaty, thus establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO….

Sonar Bangla- Golden Bengal Celebrates 48th Independence Day

Apr 5, 2019

Sonar Bangla- Golden Bengal Celebrates 48th Independence Day H.E. Mr. Yun Young Lee, Ambassador of Korea and spouse, Mrs. Uma Rathore, spouse of the ambassador of Pakistan, H.E. Sheikh Mohammad Belal, Ambassador of Bangladesh and spouse Dr. Dilruba Nasrin, H.E. Matthew Neuhaus, Ambassador of Australia and spouse and the Ambassador of Malaysia, H.E Mr. Ahmad Nazri Yusof. Photography by G. Buonamasssa. By Roy Lie Atjam. The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in the Netherlands, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Belal cordially welcomed hundreds of guests to the Diplomat reception he organized at the Bangladesh House on 26 March 2019. The…

Diplomatic Pouch

Kazakhstan heads towards historic presidential elections

The Ambassador of Kazakhstan, H.E. Magzhan Ilyassov. By Guido Lanfranchi. Ahead of the historic 2019 presidential election in Kazakhstan, H.E. Magzhan Ilyassov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Netherlands, commented on his country’s political transition. Praising the pacific and constitutional nature of such transition, the Ambassador hailed at the developments in Kazakhstan as a success story in Central Asia. On March 19th, 2019, then-President Nursultan Nazarbayev caught many by surprise when he announced that, after thirty years spent as Kazakhstan’s leader, he would resign from the position of President of the Republic. Mr. Nazarbayev’s resignation kick-started a political transition in the…

Yemen on the brink – of what?

By Guido Lanfranchi. Last edited on May 21st, 2019 Four years into the Yemeni conflict, the situation in the country remains extremely volatile. The feeling is that Yemen is in a crucial moment – although it is not clear what the future holds, as the country continuously swings between fears of protracted conflict and hopes for a negotiated solution. In such a fluid context, acting for peace is more important than ever.   Following the developments of the Yemeni conflict is no easy task. The recipe of the war in Yemen is extremely complex: several local groups conflicting over multiple fault…

U.S. State Department hails at progress in anniversary of JCPOA withdrawal

In the picture Brian Hook , US Special Representative for Iran. By Guido Lanfranchi. One year after the announcement of the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal, the U.S. State Department points at the achievements of its recent policies towards Iran. The remarks come at a time where tensions between the two countries are particularly high. At the beginning of May 2018, U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would cease its participation in the Iran Nuclear Deal. One year later, the situation has dramatically changed, with the U.S. imposing ever-increasing, tough economic…

How the European Parliament transcends the nation-state

By Barend ter Haar. As the famous attention experiment (see YouTube) shows, we might not notice a gorilla that clearly stands in front of us. For comparable reasons, most of us might not yet have noticed that the European Parliament has developed into a powerful and ground-breaking political experiment. Why haven’t we noticed? An important reason is that the transformation of the European Parliament has been a gradual process, not a spectacular event such as Brexit or the introduction of the Euro. But the most important reason is that national governments, national political parties and national news media have a…

Moving Forward with Shurooq

A New Business Frontier for EU Investors in Sharjah By HE Mr Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of Sharjah Investment & Development Authority (Shurooq) . With a forecast of 2% y-o-y economic growth until 2021, and a positive short and long-term economic outlook, Sharjah remains among the top Gulf and MENA destinations for global investors, and among the top destinations for mega-retail, tourism and real-estate projects in the region. Among the key international investors and partners to the emirate of Sharjah, are EU nations, who have historically taken the initiative of accessing MENA and wider Asian markets through the emirate. One…

Youth activists from the Middle East tell their stories to Leiden University students

By Guido Lanfranchi. In an event jointly organized by Karama Europe and Leiden University’s Middle East Committee, four young activists from conflict areas across the Middle East shared their personal stories of activism with an engaged audience of students.   Over the past years, the international community, notably the United Nations, has devoted more and more attention to the role of youth and women in armed conflicts. When overwhelmed by the violence of a war, young people face hard choices: they can fight, they can stand by and observe, or they can get engaged in activism. While the images and…

Indonesian ambassador in US blasts EU on palm oil stance

In the picture H.E. Ambassador I Gusti Wesaka Puja, Anton Lutter, H.E. Ambassador Mahendra Siregar . Photography by A. Lutter. By Anton Lutter. The newly appointed ambassador of Indonesia at Washington DC H.E. Mahendra Siregar made an impressive speech during a meeting organized by the Indonesia Nederland Society at the senatebuilding in The Hague on the 4th of April. Former minister of Defense and senator Dr. Willem van Eekelen chaired the meeting which – among many others – was attended by the president of the senate Mrs. Ankie Broekers-Knol and the Indonesian ambassador to The Netherlands H.E. I Gusti Anak…

Iran’s Zarif calls for dialogue and cooperation in the Persian Gulf

Mohammad Javad Zarif, former Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. By Guido Lanfranchi. Iran’s Foreign Minister Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a message to a conference marking National Persian Gulf Day in the southern city of Shiraz on April 30th, 2019. Dr. Zarif’s message was read out at the event by the Foreign Ministrys director general for Persian Gulf affairs. In his message, the foreign minister expressed congratulations on the occasion. “In our national calendar, this day is a reminder of a glorious memory in Iran’s history and is a well-established witness to the identity of the people…

The world is meeting in Termez

Bakhshi International Art Festival, Termez, Uzbekistan  Termez, Uzbekistan. Hundreds of artists of all kind, film producers, teachers, musicians, theatre directors, classical orchestra conducers, intellectuals and historians from around the world are arriving today in Uzbekistan to participate in the epic poetry festival, the unique Uzbek musical art of recreation of histories, named Bakhshi. The art of Bakhshi is a tradition of epic poetry developed widely in the VI-V centuries BC; Bakhshi means “educator who promotes enlightenment, knowledge”. A “Bakhshi” is a clever and wise artist who sings epic songs and passes on his educational heritage from generation to generation.  The city of Termez,…

Franco-German Parliamentary Assembly set up

Monday, 25 March 2019, Paris, French Republic: German and French parliamentarians have set up their own joint parliamentary body after a ceremonious signing of a convention between the Bundestag’s Speaker Wolfgang Schäuble and the President of the French National Assembly, Richard Ferrand.  In total 50 deputies from Germany and 50 from France partook for the first time in a joint parliamentary session at the Salle Lamartine, a committee hall located at the Palais Bourbon.  The project meant to drive forward European integration is the first concrete step taken since the Treaty of Aachen/Aix-la-Chappelle was inked on 22 January 2019. Substantial debates are to…

70 ans de relations diplomatiques belgo-indonésiennes

« 70 ans de relations diplomatiques belgo-indonésiennes : renforcer davantage la coopération entre les deux peuples » In the picture H.E. Mr. Yuri Thamrin Indonesian Ambassador. Savez-vous que cette année l’Indonésie et la Belgique fêtent le 70e anniversaire de leurs relations diplomatiques ? Au fil des années, des liens d’amitié se sont profondément tissés entre les deux pays qui se reflètent dans plusieurs domaines d’activités. Les relations entre les deux pays ont débuté depuis 1947 lorsque Dr. Paul Van Zeeland, alors sénateur coopté, a été choisi comme membre du « Comité des Trois Nations », aux côtés de l’Australien Richard Kirby et de l’Américain Dr. Frank P. Graham, dans le cadre des bons…

The Global Coalition announces the military defeat of the Islamic State

By Guido Lanfranchi. After a long campaign, the Global Coalition against ISIS declared that the Islamic State has been militarily defeated. Yet, the organization will continue to pose a threat in the Middle East and beyond, and efforts to counter their narrative and actions are still very much needed – the Coalition warned. At the end of March 2019, the years-long campaign to deprive the Islamic State of its hold on territory in the area across the Syrian-Iraqi border finally came to an end. The campaign has been jointly managed by a coalition of 74 countries and 5 international organization,…

The United States blames Maduro’s government for the situation in Venezuela

By Guido Lanfranchi. In the wake of meetings with representatives from both the Venezuelan opposition and Russia, U.S. Special Representative Elliott Abrams blamed the government of Nicolás Maduro and its supporters for the crisis in Venezuela. The United States – he announced – will continue to push for the restoration of democracy in the country. As the situation of Venezuela continues to be characterized by the power struggle between Mr. Nicolás Maduro and Mr. Juan Guaidó, this political clash has implication on the international diplomatic scene too. The international community remains split on the political crisis faced by Venezuela: on…

The U.S. Treasury increases its pressure on Iran with new sanctions designations

By Guido Lanfranchi. In late March, the United States Treasury further increased its economic and financial pressure on Iran. The most recent measures consisted of sanctions towards a network funding Iran’s armed forces, as well as of enhanced warnings for private companies engaging with Iranian entities. Since May 2018, when the United States decided to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, the U.S. Treasury has been busy with devising and implementing a set of measures aimed at depriving the Iranian government from its sources of revenue. Speaking to the press during…

Who and what will kill you?

By Barend ter Haar. When a man starts shooting around to kill people he doesn’t know, for terroristic purposes or just because he is crazy, he receives all the public attention he is looking for but does not deserve. This poses a challenge for governments. Will they take a high profile in order to look vigorous and decisive, even when that is exactly what the terrorists hope for, because it heightens their profile too? Or can they withstand that pressure and, while giving high priority to the prevention of such attacks, put these risks into a realistic perspective? A useful…

NATO gears up for BALTOPS 2019

By Guido Lanfranchi. A few months after the execution of exercise Trident Juncture, NATO is preparing for the annual exercise Baltic Operations, also known as BALTOPS. For the first time, this exercise will feature the presence of the U.S. 2nd Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis. The organization phase of exercise Baltic Operations 2019 is nearing its completion, with the Final Planning Conference scheduled in these days in Vilnius, Lithuania. The execution of BALTOPS is not anything new, as the exercise is coming this year to its 47th iteration. However, for the first time the 2019 edition…