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Govt has no hand in demolition of Bulgarian Embassy in Accra - Foreign Affairs Ministry

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Govt has no hand in demolition of Bulgarian Embassy in Accra
Govt has no hand in demolition of Bulgarian Embassy in Accra. Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio and his counterpart from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Kwasi Ampratwum-Sarpong, visited the premises of the disputed Bulgarian Embassy land on Wednesday to stop the private developer from continuing with work.

The government has no hand in the demolition of the Bulgarian Embassy in Accra by a private developer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has explained.

The Bulgarian Embassy, located at Kakramadu Road, Plot No. 10, East Cantonments in Accra was demolished by the private developer in 2017.

The Lands Commission has since ordered the developer to stop work on a redevelopment project on the site.

But work has since been progressing.

On Wednesday afternoon [March 16, 2022], the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio and his counterpart from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Kwasi Ampratwum-Sarpong, visited the premises of the disputed Bulgarian Embassy land to stop the private developer from continuing with work.

The Member of Parliament for North Tongu and Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has expressed worry over the development and suggested it could mar the Ghana-Bulgaria relationship.

But according to the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, all efforts to work with the police to stop the private developer have proven futile.

At a press conference in Accra on Wednesday afternoon [March 16, 2022] Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong said the workers of the developer have been warned that they will be arrested if they resume operations in spite of the directive to stop work following an inspection of the site by the Ministry.

"Government has got no hands in whatever the developer is doing. Click to Tweet .

"In fact, I got involved in this particular Bulgarian issue on the express instructions of the President [Akufo-Addo]. It came to his attention when the Bulgarian Ambassador came to present his credence letters and the Ambassador raised it and the President asked me. Thereafter the President called me and gave me instructions to go and sort it out. It was at that point that the President even mentioned the name of the trespasser to me and that is how I got to know who the trespasser is," Mr Ampratwum-Sarpong said.

The Deputy Minister said since then they have been on it, "director consular, director legal, we've had series of meetings with the parties involved trying to get his matter resolved amicably. We have at least two or three stages even gone to the police, to see if the police will be able to come in and help us throw out the developer, but that has not been successful."  

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio and his counterpart from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Kwasi Ampratwum-Sarpong, visited the premises of the disputed Bulgarian Embassy land on Wednesday to stop the private developer from continuing with work.

When the team got there, it was realised that work was still ongoing despite the directive by the Lands Commission for it to be halted, reports Graphic Online's Timothy Ngnenbe.

Piles of gravel, cement blocks and other building materials were seen at the premises, with some workers busily working.

Some of them absconded when the team got there, except the supervisor.

Bulgaria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out the following statement on Wednesday, March 16, 2022

In connection with the emerging media posts informing that the building of the former Bulgarian Embassy in the capital of Ghana - Akra was destroyed today, we specify that this information does not correspond to the truth. The building was illegally destroyed back in April 2017.

Since then, the Bulgarian country has taken a number of diplomatic actions to protect its interests as the owner of the property, repeatedly receiving assurances to quickly settle the issue.

Our Embassy in Abuja, accredited in Ghana, however, has not been given permission to deploy a security firm chosen by him to protect the property. As a result, Ghana's claim to control the field investment firm is entering it illegally with heavy equipment.

After the question was once again raised in front of the Ghanaian country, the Bulgarian diplomatic delegation in Abuja was informed that on March 15, 2022 The competent authorities in Akra have carried out the removal of armed security and officers of an illegally assorted property investment firm.

The Minister of Land Affairs and the Forests of Ghana has taken the necessary actions by issuing an order to terminate illegal activity on Bulgarian property and the decision of the Supreme Court has been confirmed that the property is Bulgarian until the expiry of the right to use in 2033.

The Bulgarian country continues the dialogue with Ghanaian institutions in order to effectively bring to an end to the restoration of Bulgaria's ability to exercise its legal rights as an owner and in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic is a relationship.

Below is Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa's concerns

DEMOLISHING OF BULGARIAN EMBASSY IN ACCRA IS A BLOT ON GHANA’S DIPLOMATIC CREDENTIALS - NDC CAUCUS IN PARLIAMENT DEMANDS A FULL PARLIAMENTARY PROBE

The alarming culture of impunity which has become unrivaled in its audaciousness must not be allowed to fester.

First, it was a brazen demolition of a Nigerian diplomatic property which predictably strained our bilateral relations with our West African neighbour, triggering a war of words and bringing us to the brink of conflict. Following a deescalation, the Ghanaian taxpayer, unbeknownst to many, is now spending millions of Cedis to restore the Nigerian diplomatic facility as adequate compensation.

Now, in an even more shocking, exceedingly lawless, provocative and mafia-style operation — the Bulgarian Embassy in Accra at Kakramadu Road, Plot No. 10, East Cantonments has been completely razed to the ground.

According to eye witnesses, the armed rogue elements with extra fortification from deviant land guards and errant personnel allegedly from the Cantonments Police Station had the sheer effrontery in broad day light to evict Bulgarian Embassy staff, throw out inviolable assets belonging to the Bulgarians and assault the Honorary Consul, Mr. Nicolaas C.M. van Staalduinen in his effort to restrain them. Valuables including generators, computers, printers, refrigerators, archival documents which represent a treasure trove of deep historical bonds and a stash of vital diplomatic exchanges were not spared by the marauding encroachers.

They subsequently returned at dawn to demolish the entire Embassy.

The perpetrators are now building their own structure with the speed of light, at day and night, to conclude their nefarious mission.

This aggressively mindless attack is usually considered a declaration of war.

Without a scintilla of doubt, Ghana's conduct amounts to a grotesque violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.
Article 22 of the Convention provides:

1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.

3. The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Credible and verified information point to the fact that all these grave violations have been possible because of a "powerful man" behind the invasion, demolishing, construction and purported takeover. I shall have him exposed in due course, save to add that those who consider themselves strategic allies of the Akufo-Addo presidency must reflect deeply on how their conduct will impact on the long term legacy of their most-favoured government.

Documents I have reviewed and some of which I would attach to this publication reveal how helpless the Foreign Ministry and the Lands Commission appear to be in this matter even after they have confirmed with incontrovertible evidence that the Bulgarians have a valid lease for a term of 50 years since 1983.

As a Ghanaian and Ranking Member on Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is terribly embarrassing to hear comments about this despicable scandal in diplomatic corridors and how another blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 with such reckless brute force is casting a slur on our hard won image in the comity of nations.

The NDC caucus in Parliament and the vast majority of law abiding Ghanaians would certainly not accept this detestable misconduct neither are we going to allow the criminal masterminds to get away with this.

I shall like to commend the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor for promising to take positive steps to halt the construction at the Bulgarian Embassy premises when I brought this to his attention yesterday.

May I add, though, that the unresponsiveness of Ghana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to numerous queries from the Bulgarians, particularly after the Bulgarian government sent a delegation led by Ambassador Yanko Yordanov to Ghana last month, have been most unhelpful in easing tensions.

That notwithstanding, the NDC Caucus in Parliament shall be demanding a full public parliamentary probe into these bizarre circumstances with the view to identifying all the conspirators and bringing them to justice.

We shall not allow the shadowy characters behind this hideous act to enjoy the comfort and security of anonymity; we shall smoke them and their collaborators out, and ensure that never again would a few greedy bandits damage our hitherto high diplomatic reputation.

While applauding the Bulgarians for their exceptional patience since coming under their first bulldozer attack at 3am on 26th April, 2017; it must be emphasized that a friendly country such as Bulgaria which shares rich historical ties with Ghana from the Nkrumah era, and has only recently announced a generous scholarship package for our student evacuees from Ukraine does not deserve to be subjected to crass lawlessness from a few corrupt nepotistic brigands determined to tarnish Ghana's good name.

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