Foreign Minister lashes out against foreign diplomats

Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders (Francophone liberal) has had it with foreign diplomats failing to pay traffic fines. Diplomats working in Brussels refused to pay no fewer than 971 fines in the past 3 years, De Tijd reveals. Mr Reynders also mentions particular embassies by name.

Over the past 3 years, the Foreign Office was informed about 971 cases of unpaid fines related to parking tickets or  traffic offences.

The diplomats are abusing the Vienna Treaty on Diplomatic Relations, it can be heard. At present, the Foreign Office sends the embassy or diplomat in question a reminder, but Mr Reynders admits that the cases do not receive a follow-up afterwards.

Mr Reynders was replying to a parliamentary question asked by the Flemish liberal Senator Martine Taelman (photo). She wants him to apply the same punishments as the United States, where foreign diplomats lose their number plate after 3 cases of unpaid fines. Mr Reynders said that he is willing to consider this idea.

Mr Reynders mentions names

The minister also mentioned names. Where the traditional embassies are concerned, he highlights Saudi Arabia and India as "bad payers". Where the Permanent Representatives to NATO are concerned, the Turkish diplomats are getting a lashing.

As to the European institutions in Brussels, the Permanent Representatives of Greece, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia and Cyprus are receiving a warning by the minister.

The lion's share of the fines is related to traffic offences, but some apparently also have to do with more serious cases of violating the law. In one case, a diplomat's son had "committed various crimes in houses and cars". Only because he was the son of a diplomat, he escaped legal proceedings, it is said. The Foreign Office also wants to keep a better eye on cases like this.