German Chancellor Angela Merkel called an obscene remark about the EU «absolutely unacceptable». She had to repeat it again commenting on the way the US treats its European allies. The Ukrainian security service taped the conversation between top level American officials. It was posted on Youtube giving rise to an international row. She said the same thing last summer upon getting information on NSA spying activities, now the reason was an obscene remark by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. She has already apologized for the contents of the leaked conversation.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to confirm the conversation, saying that she was «not going to confirm private diplomatic conversations». The President of the United States has also shied away from comments while refusing to confirm the fact that US special services bugged the cell phone of Chancellor Merkel. New NSA chief Vice-Admiral Michael Rogers said the Agency would practice spying on foreign leaders in case US national security is threatened.
Mrs. Nuland apologized before the leaders of European Union never condescending to discuss the delicate issue with Victor Yanukovych. The Washington's top diplomat in Europe on February 6 refused to comment on a leaked phone conversation in which she used the f-word in regards to the EU's handling of the Ukraine crisis. «I will not comment on a private diplomatic conversation», Victoria Nuland told reporters in Kiev after talks with the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych. So what we have is the example of professional lingo, the language used by contemporary Taleyrands and Metternichs. Acknowledging Nuland‘s apology, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that «the term ‘diplomat‘ and her choice of words actually stand in contradiction to one another». The use of strong language in conversation is a private matter of interlocutors. They say Victoria Nuland has enriched her vocabulary thanks to her former boss Hillary Clinton.
Now what could be done with the content of what Nuland said? It makes obvious the contempt displayed by the overseas politicians towards their European partners. Of course there is nothing new here for European diplomats. German Handelsblatt cites European diplomat Helga Schmid talking to EU ambassador to Ukraine Jan Tombinski. Schmid says: «The Americans are going around telling people we're too weak while they are tougher on sanctions. I talked to Cathy [Ashton] about what we have already discussed and she is on the same page: We have to do it [impose sanctions] but we have to prepare it in a very clever manner. But what you should know is that it really bothers us that the Americans are going around naming and shaming us – this is what several journalists have told us. Maybe you can speak to the US ambassador?» (1) But the complains of German Helga Schmid about indecent behavior of American diplomats do not impress anymore against the background of swear words used by Assistant Secretary Nuland. What about the reaction of European establishment? It’s pitiful: nothing special has taken place. The spokesperson for Catherin Ashton, who is supposed to comment such things, flatly refused to say anything. Elmer Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament, agreed that Vitali Klitschko is not the only one to pin hopes on and Yatsenyuk deserves more support. It does not mean that Klitschko has fallen out of West’s favor. His UDAR political party is a partner of German Christian Democrats, the US National Democratic Institute and the US International Republican Institute (2) which operate under the aegis of US State Department and contributed to sparking the Arab Spring.
Europeans tend to shift the blame. Americans conceded that they have no evidence of Russian special services involvement into bugging the conversation between Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, but Elmar Brok does not hesitate to accuse Russia. Obedient Bild, which has staunchly supported the United States since the Snowden’s row started, fills its pages with stories about total electronic eavesdropping and surveillance practiced at the Sochi winter Olympics. The editors of the largest German weekly are not put out of countenance by the fact that the readers are tired of monotonous attacks against Russia. (3)
Merkel appears to have no intent to do anything more except the statement she made. What Nuland said is in no way related to German politics or the Chancellor. She believes the European Union’s policy on Ukraine is up to par. Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation in the Field of Intersocietal Relations, Cultural and Information Policy Philipp Mißfelder (Christian Democratic Union) said it’s good Nuland aplologized. (4) He is sure the obscene words came out unintentionally; it’s something normal among top politicians.
It’s hard to imagine that the ballyhoo raised over the Nuland’s being rude about the European Union will make think twice those who are willing to see the Transatlantic Free Trade Area agreement signed. No, it does not look like that. Germans have said recently they won’t object to EU imports of genetically modified corn – welcome DuPont and Dow Chemicals. With such easy going partner Americans have no reason to refrain from obscene language. Actually, the very art of diplomacy is not needed in this case. Power is the trump card! Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi – «Gods may do what cattle may not». Could you imagine a diplomat of a European country saying something that obscene and vulgar about the Americans imposing their will? Under the present day conditions it would be tantamount to political suicide. One of Spigel readers writes that is happy not to be a government employee, he can freely express his point of view. Then he uses the very same words Mrs. Nuland said but this time they are addressed to the United States, not the European Union. Let’s consider it to be another view on what the transatlantic partnership is like…
(1) USA werfen Russland vor, Mitschnitt lanciert zu haben http://www.handelsblatt.com, 07.02.2014.
(3) Remarks to the article: bild.de