‘Rhetoric is not enough’ for Europe in dealing with NSA spying
scandal broke a while ago. The question now is why has it taken
so long for the EU and Germany in particular, to
Hans C. Von Sponeck: Well, first of all, there had to be a joint position to be developed and that is gradually happening. But I mean the news was so overwhelming and the various governments had to really understand what moves they should now carry out. I think we are well on the way of getting a joint European position off the ground. There is an EU delegation in Washington today. All of that is a step in the right direction. What is absolutely not condonable is that if we just lean back and say “well, the spying is a part of our life, of modern life, we have to accept that, fine.”
RT:Obama claims he did not know that the NSA spied or monitored Angela Merkel’s phone calls. How likely is that?
HVS: It’s pretty sad story, isn’t it? If a head of state doesn’t know that there is some wiretapping going on vis-à-vis other heads of state and that in turn effects deeply; as you see international relations between people who are pledged when they see each other that they are cooperating, that they should have trust into each other. And all that is now a big question mark.
RT:You mentioned briefly the European delegation going to Washington. Some of the Europeans are already there and German officials will be present there as well and would be specifically addressing this issue of spying and phone monitoring, wiretapping, etc. How effective, do you think, their mission will be, what will they achieve there?
HVS: They are little in the beginning. When the European parliament starts making demands and individual governments do as the German government no doubt will, I think the US can no longer use this idea that we are strong and display as the spokesperson for the State Department repeatedly has done an arrogance that is unacceptable to us here in Central Europe. They will have to come out with a reassurance and gradually begin to rebuild what will be a very rocky and difficult road towards trust. I would argue that the Europeans should now be very clear and very tough.
RT:You said they should come up with summary assurance for European leaders. In fact, the US is saying that they will be reviewing the NSA programs. To what extent do you actually agree that, you know, spying will be reduced or it is just words with no action that is likely to follow?
HVS: That’s exactly what I’m trying to argue, that the rhetoric is not enough. There has to be very clear and transparent plans to address this situation and avoid the developments of this kind. I think the public, if you were to ask people in Germany or in Central Europe today what they would like to see, I think what a majority to say is ‘We are not surprised but this is not acceptable’ and if you put a face to the issue, it becomes much more powerful than if you just quote ‘a 35 million messages have been intercepted.’ A face means a lot of dignity, a lot of privacy. If you put a leader’s face into the debate, then you are quite different and more serious. [It’s about] a problem of trust between leaders and that would affect many others in cooperation across the Atlantic, including the pending trade agreements, including financial data transactions.
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