When the Americans believe to control Europe…

, by Translated by Peter Matjašič, Fabien Cazenave

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

When the Americans believe to control Europe…

The Slovenian newspaper Dnevnik raised a scoop: the USA addressed a document to Slovenia who currently chairs the Council of the European Union… to give it instructions on how it should manage the European Union during the first six months of 2008. We thus give a red card to the American government which still believes that Central and Eastern European countries like answering orders.

What shocks most, it is the feeling that the American administration can think that the Slovenes are going to obey them. However, Slovenia took the reins of the European Union by being conscious of the symbol which it represented: a former Yugoslav republic, now an independent state and EU member since 2004 can have the same importance as those of Western Europe.

And the message which is sent is even more irritating: “you are no longer part of the satellites of the USSR, therefore you are our satellites”. The European Union cannot accept that.

But who do the Americans think they are?

Following leakages in the press, the rumour gave a report on an American document given to the political director of the Foreign Affairs, Mitja Drobnič. The Slovenian daily newspaper Dnevnik had published the report of a confidential discussion between Mr. Drobnič and a high American diplomat. Mr. Drobnič confirmed the presumptions while resigning. In this document the American services recommended to recognise the independence of Kosovo…

This is only to say that the interference is total. This also raises the question what happened with previous presidencies of the European Union or if this type of behaviour takes place only with the former Eastern European countries.

In front of the leakages in the press, the President of the Slovenian Republic reacted in front of the national news agency (STA) by estimating that the image of the country “had been somewhat damaged”. However Slovenia has made serious efforts and demonstrated her will to form an integral part of the European Union, also by being the first new member state to adopt the €uro in 2007.

Moreover, this way of working is very “American”: when one reads for example the book of Arthur Mr. Jr. Schlesinger on the "1000 days of Kennedy", the recommendations sent to the countries considered as “small” are common occurrences.

Albeit this event had been scarcely mentioned by the French press, the echoes were already made heard for example in Italy. This diplomatic scandal would deserve a different treatment.

Why we need a stronger Europe

The American attempts to influence the European policy shows that one of the current weaknesses of the European Union resides in the multiplicity of its interlocutors.

The diplomatic corps of the United States could not have been allowed to send the same type of “recommendations” if the European Union were a true political union. In a globalised world, it is increasingly urgent that the European Union becomes a true entity to acquire legitimacy on the international scene.

This shows also the urgency of less intergovernmentalism for Europe, because it is no longer a mere aggregation of states that has to be expressed but rather a coherent unit.

Illustration: “Uncle Sam needs you”, image created by the army American at the time of the First World War to collect funds; source: Wikicommons.

Article based on news from:
 Courrier Internationial

Your comments
  • On 29 February 2008 at 18:57, by eslaporte Replying to: When the Americans believe to control Europe…

    What is troubling is the lack of concern from European leaders and institutions as to the seriousness of the Americans’ meddling in the EU presidency. This appears to be about the same lack of concern with regard to the CIA renditions of some for torture in other countries and other gross violations of human rights by Americans on European soil. In the case of the Americans meddling in the EU presidency there is no concern, no investigation and especially no plan or policy to prevent this from happening again. There is no plan to have a independent European presidency that is not given over to the meddling and arm-twisting of a third nation, like the US.

    What should also shock you is the reaction of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry to the leak of this information (link below):

    "Dr Rupel, who immediately ordered an investigation into the leak, did not deny the existence of the document nor its content, while a Foreign Ministry statement characterized those who had leaked the document as “neither loyal citizens of Slovenia nor worthy of being called diplomats”. Slovenia’s diplomatic corps was also critical of the leaking and publication of the document. “This would not have happened if it were not for the dishonesty of some Foreign Ministry employees who seemingly are no longer interested in doing something constructive for their country,” a petition signed by 339 diplomatic staff members stated. In the meantime, Prime Minister Janez Janša denied that anyone is trying to tell Slovenia how to preside over the EU, while the foreign minister tried to assert that the leaked document had not harmed Slovenia’s relationship with the USA, although it had caused “some minor tension”.

    Instead of preventing outside, third countries from meddling in the EU presidency- the Slovenian Foreign Ministry calls those that leaked this document as “no longer interested in doing something constructive for their country?” This should have Europeans and their leaders quite a bit more upset, but even furious, that the Americans are dictating policy to the EU president. Where’s the outrage?!

  • On 4 April 2008 at 19:59, by Torchlight Replying to: When the Americans believe to control Europe…

    Wow. This is an important story. Thanks for publishing it. I can’t believe no major newspapers outside of Slovenia picked it up. I’ve written about it on my own blog now too.

  • On 6 April 2008 at 08:40, by C. Gabriella Replying to: When the Americans believe to control Europe…

    “The diplomatic corps of the United States could not have been allowed to send the same type of “recommendations” if the European Union were a true political union.”

    I think that this is a crucial point that you make in your article. I think this statement would resonate more if it read: the United States would not have been able to send the same type of recommendations if the EU were a true political union.

    Frankly, I do not believe that it is appropriate for anyone to kick and scream about how the American government is to blame for “meddling” in the affairs of a foreign government via a memo. This reaction is not unlike a person who leaves their bag unattended and then complains upon coming back from the bathroom only to find it has been stolen. Put another way, no one involved in the diplomatic debacle benefits by claiming victim status. Instead, this incident should simply go further to motivate Europe to stand up and assume its role as a global leader now, rather than later.

    I think the underlying lesson learned from this “scandal” is this: the European confederation is still in its infancy and unable to hold its own politically until there is a more stable working framework: namely, a Constitution. Until this level of coherence is attained and a true pan-European foreign policy is adopted, the American government cannot deal with the European Union as a peer. Rather, the US diplomatic corps will attempt to treat some members of the EU as subjugates, just as it always has.

    That’s the bad news. Here’s the good: this will all change when Europe puts forth a clear Constitution, a foreign policy minister, and a true EU President - all of whom endowed by its Member States with inalienable authority over affairs of state. I cannot speak for others, but I, for one, and impatiently awaiting the day when this goal is realized.

  • On 6 April 2008 at 17:13, by valery Replying to: When the Americans believe to control Europe…

    I disagree : the United States have a foreign policy and it is the right and the duty of its governement to let its allies know about it. The events mentionned in this article seem to be just another episode of the anti-americain paranoia that has spread in Europe since the sometime unwise policies of the Bush administration.

    It is strange to believe that the argument that Europe should be built against its main ally and partner may be relevant at all.

  • On 11 August 2008 at 16:09, by ESLaPorte Replying to: When the Americans believe to control Europe…

    I would like to know just what your definition of “anti-Americanism” is..? For one, there is such a thing as constructive and good faith criticism of American foreign policies and actions. I do this in spades, and I am not a supporter of Fidel Castro or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran...

    It was RIGHT for Europeans to stand up against CIA renditions. It was RIGHT for Europeans to criticize the conduct of the so-called “war on terrorism.” It was RIGHT for Europeans to criticize “gitmo” and open -ended imprisonment of “combatants.” There is a needed time and place for free speech and thought that is critical of America - that does not render the speaker as a “hater of America” and in the same boat as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    The term “anti-American” has been applied to Americans that are critical of their own government, including this American here. The term “anti-Americanism,” from my experience, is more like calling a speaker a “crackpot” and intended to chill any speech that is critical of American foreign policies, cultural policies, like the death penalty, including those that are of good faith and intended to be constructive.

    So, when the term “anti-Americaism” is used is any context, please let people know what you mean. Otherwise, this is name -calling and not acceptable part of civil discourse.

    ESLaPorte - Milwaukee, Wisconsin - USA

Your comments

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on gravatar.com (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom