Central & Eastern Europe: Initial Reactions to WikiLeaks’ Cablegate

While other regions feature a lot more prominently in the collection of U.S. embassy cables published by WikiLeaks thus far, a few countries of the CEE region do appear in the kickoff edition of Cablegate.

Below is a small selection of initial reactions from the region's bloggers.

Piran Café, a Slovenian blog, announced the Cablegate “winner” from the Balkans:

Croatia, apparently.

Of the 251,287 secret US Embassy cables which Wikileaks began making public yesterday, 2,053 relate to Croatia, according to the ‘Cables by Country‘ graphic on Wikileaks Cablegate website. […]

The Balkan “runners-up” are:

Bosnia & Hercegovina is next at 1,419, followed by Serbia & Montenegro, with 1,244. Slovenia comes in a distant fourth with 947, with Macedonia (783) and Montenegro (503) bringing up the rear. […]

Although no Slovenia-related documents have been published yet, the country – along with the Pacific island of Kiribati – is in the media spotlight of sorts already, due to the Guantanamo Bay prisoner release situation:

[…] Advance material supplied to The Guardian, Der Speigel, Le Monde, and The New York Times included in passing a mention of a strongarm deal the US offered to Slovenia. Most of the accounts went something like this:

The (New York Times) also cited documents showing the U.S. used hardline tactics to win approval from countries to accept freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. It said Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if its president wanted to meet with President Barack Obama and said the Pacific island of Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to take in a group of detainees.

Milan Balažic, spokesperson for Slovenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied that any such deal making transpired, insisting that Slovenia cannot accept Guantanamo detainees on legal grounds and that PM Borut Pahor does still have a visit to the US scheduled for next year. The statement I read didn’t specifically say however, that Pahor would be meeting with Obama. […]

Viktor Markovic of Belgraded.com provided a brief overview of the files that mention Kosovo, noting on Twitter that he “got 1k hits on this post in the first couple of hrs […] seems everyone is searching for dirty secrets”:

[…] The first interesting bit relates to comments on Kosovo government and their dissatisfaction with the EULEX-Serbia cooperation, but also the EU diplomat’s dissatisfaction with Serbian MFA Vuk Jeremic:

[Elysee Diplomatic Advisor Jean-David] Levitte noted that the EULEX mission is having diplomatic problems with the Kosovar government and public after signing two technical protocols with Serbia. They are hoping to ensure continued calm as Kosovo heads into municipal elections. [Assistant Secretary Philip H.] Gordon stated that the Kosovars will have to accept the protocols but that it should be clearly explained that these are technical agreements that have no impact on Kosovo’s independent status. Levitte also criticized Serbian FM Jeremic, saying that he is doing nothing to encourage Serb return or participation in Kosovo’s government. Levitte noted that Jeremic “makes big promises” every time he comes to France, but doesn’t follow through. Levitte no longer meets with him and does not consider him to be the “modern face of Belgrade” that he purports to be. […]

Guistino, the Estonia-based author of Itching for Eestimaa, mockingly complains that the people behind WikiLeaks “haven't caught on yet that Estonia is the center of the universe”:

I keep checking WikiLeaks for the horde of secret diplomatic cables out of the US Embassy in Tallinn. “Local demagogue known for shady real estate dealings!” “Wealthy chocolatier may have connections to organized crime!”

No such luck. […]

This week, the group seeks to release 251,287 leaked US embassy cables, 610 of which are out of Estonia, though they aren't up yet. […]

On a more serious note, Guistino criticizes WikiLeaks’ U.S.-centric approach:

[…] While I am, like everybody, keen to learn more about US policy, I would also appreciate if WikiLeaks provided more information on other countries. Because of its access to those cables, global interest, plus perhaps the prevalance of English, the bulk of the material seems to be about the US. As an American, I have to say, not fair! An international media organization should provide more content than that. In other words, where are the confidential Russian cables, Julian? We in Estonia await more.

Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer who is part of the legal team representing Mikhail Khodorkovsky, wrote this about the Russian segment of Cablegate:

It's no wonder why the FSB vaguely threatened to assassinate Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In just the first wave of confidential diplomatic cables released yesterday, we get the opportunity to [see] how officials of the U.S. government really felt about relations with their new partners in Russia, underscoring the profound cynicism of Obama's reset policy. And apparently, there is much more to come once Wikileaks taps its Russian archives.

Apart from a near total obsession with Russia only through the prism of Iran, the wires also reveal a specifically detailed awareness of Russia's democratic unraveling, which contrasts sharply with the president's positive statements on the relationship. Vladimir Putin is described as the “Alpha Dog” of a “vitrual mafia state,” while Dmitry Medvedev “plays Robin to Putin's Batman.” […]

Reactions of the Russophone Twitter users are quite diverse.

@sergey_gaber is optimistic (RUS):

WikiLeaks, by the way. Here, folks, it seems as if the blessed time has come when no one is afraid of anyone. It is wonderful.

@kushnir72 is apprehensive (RUS):

This whole WikiLeaks story will result in the Internet getting banned :)

@GlazTV doesn't seem to have enough trust (RUS) in the Cablegate files – because Julian Assange, editor-in-chief and spokesperson for WikiLeaks, hasn't been silenced yet:

One thing I don't understand is how come the fellow who created WikiLeaks and who's giving the US some really hard time, is still alive and at large??? It's giving me some strange thoughts…

Finally, @yasviridov posted this item, which has so far been re-tweeted by at least 20 people:

Damn! My real 5th-grade geometry grades have surfaced on WikiLeaks. If Mom finds out, she'll kill me!


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