First EU ambassadors appointed, German gets Beijing

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Germany and Austria nabbed the prized EU ambassadorial postings of Beijing and Tokyo on Wednesday as the bloc's new diplomatic corps issued a maiden batch of appointments.

German Markus Ederer, a top foreign ministry official in Berlin, is to take up the Beijing post, while Austria's current ambassador to the European Union, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, will go to Japan, said EU foreign supremo Catherine Ashton.

Ashton's announcement of the much-awaited 29 nominations came amid grumblings from newer East European members of the union that big nations were cornering the top jobs.

Among the new EU ambassadors are five Spaniards, (Argentina, the deputy in China, Angola, Namibia, Guineau-Bissau), three French appointees (Philippines, Chad, Zambia), three Irish (Bangladesh, Botswana, Mozambique), two Italians (Albania, Uganda) and two diplomats from the Netherlands (South Africa, Lebanon).

A second German official was named to Papua New Guinea, two Belgians to Burundi and Senegal and two officials from Luxembourg will take up posts in Singapore and Haiti.

Of the newer member states, Poland won South Korea and Jordan, Bulgaria was handed Georgia and a Lithuanian diplomat was named to Afghanistan.

Ashton was named last December as head of the European External Action Service, a diplomatic service ultimately comprising thousands of diplomats and bureaucrats that was created, as was her post, by the EU's reforming Lisbon Treaty.

The English baroness has been busy overseeing applications for the new positions both from within the EU bureaucracy and from foreign ministries of the 27 member states.

© 2010 AFP

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