Cablegate: FM no longer "modern face of Serbia"

BELGRADE -- WikiLeak's material revealed thus far includes one cable which is dedicated to Kosovo and to Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić; Mladić cables expected.

Not the face of modern Serbia, say cables: Vuk Jeremić (Beta, file)
Not the face of modern Serbia, say cables: Vuk Jeremić (Beta, file)

The diplomatic message on Kosovo and Jeremić was written by French diplomat Jean-David Levitte in the fall of 2009.

Some of Levitte's conclusions are that EULEX has diplomatic issues with the Kosovo government and public, and that Jeremić makes promises that he never keeps, the BBC reported in its review of the British press.

Levitte also criticized Jeremić for doing nothing to encourage "Serb return or participation in the Kosovo (Albanian) government".

Levitte wrote that he no longer meets with Jeremić, and does not consider him the modern face of Belgrade that he presented himself to be.

Jeremić's assistant, retired army general Zdravko Ponoš, reacted to this on Monday by saying that he did not assign much importance to the French diplomat's assessment.

"A foreign minister of any country, Serbia in this case, is under no obligation to be likable or to have a likable face, or, so to speak, a modern face," said Ponoš, and added that foreign ministers are tasked with representing their country and official policies.

"That is precisely what Minister Jeremić has been doing. The diplomat who was quoted, if what was quoted is true, is not on par with the minister, he (Levitte) is an adviser," Ponoš said.

As for the cables concerning Serbia and the Balkans still awaiting to be published, The Guardian has reported that they could be about the reasons why Ratko Mladić has not been arrested yet.

Serbian MFA Political Director Borko Stefanović said this evening that these documents, when published, "cannot deal a blow to Serbia's position, or Serbia's cooperation with the Hague".

Former Ambassador to France Predrag Simić reacted by saying that the documents, reportedly about Mladić and his ties with U.S. diplomats - which another war crimes indictee, Radovan Karadžić, has mentioned before - "could be important for Serb politicians and diplomats, as could the cables about (the war in) 1999, and Kosovo".

Emperors with no clothes, alpha dogs, feckless spokesmen

Some of the U.S. diplomatic cables that have been published so far paint less-than-flattering pictures of some world leaders.

The BBC reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was described as risk-averse, but Deutsche Welle highlights the message saying that U.S. diplomats "favor Merkel over Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle", who Der Spiegel claimed was seen as "aggressive, vain, and short on substance."

Russia's Vladimir Putin is described as an "alpha dog", and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi as "feckless", and Putin's "spokesman in Europe".

French president Nicolas Sarkozy is compared to a "thin-skinned authoritarian emperor with no clothes". Official Paris today reacted to the leaks by calling them a "threat to democracy".

Among the comments released by Wikileaks is a reported conversation in which a senior advisor to the French president branded Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez "crazy" and Iran a "fascist state", reported the BBC.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper reports that "top diplomats in Ankara see Turkey's prime minister as a religious fundamentalist committed to spreading hatred against Israel".

The BBC says that U.S. cables expressed worry about Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's ambition to construct a "neo-Ottoman" foreign policy.

Spying on UN

One of the cables leaked by WikiLeaks late on Sunday documents a message to U.S. diplomats "issued in Hillary Clinton's name tells them to collect biographic and biometric information - including iris scans, DNA samples and fingerprints - of key officials at the UN", reports the BBC.

The diplomats are also ordered to find credit card details, e-mail addresses and passwords and encryption keys used for computer networks and in official communications from officials including "undersecretaries, heads of specialized agencies and their chief advisers, top secretary general aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders".

At least nine similar directives covering various countries are included in the Wikileaks release, both under the name of Clinton and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, says the BBC report.

Iran and Israel react

In Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad dismissed the revelations as “malicious” and “worthless” – but claimed they were part of a propaganda war being waged by Washington, euronews reported.

“These revelations just about malice, in terms of international law they have no significance. We are brothers with our neighboring countries. This publication will not affect those relations.” he said.

According to the disclosures, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has repeatedly urged the United States to attack the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

According to the Wikileaks material, Israel is leading calls for the US to take tough action to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that there was clear international agreement that Iran posed a threat in terms of its plans for expansion and armaments, and this was obvious in the tone of the leaked cables.