How much of Slovenia’s EU Presidency has been scripted in Washington?

News is breaking of the resignation yesterday of a senior Slovenian diplomat who, press reports in Slovenia claim, had taken orders from the US about Slovenia’s EU Presidency – including a suggestion that Slovenia should lead the charge on recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.  Details from EU Business (one of only a couple outlets covering the story on Google news at the time of writing, it seems):

The Foreign Ministry announced on its website that political director Mitja Drobnic had resigned and would be replaced by state secretary Matjaz Sinkovec during Slovenia‘s six-month term as EU president.  Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel “has accepted the resignation of political director Mitja Drobnic”, the ministry said in a statement.

The resignation comes after a report in the daily newspaper Dnevnik last week which said that Slovenia had been taking orders from the US.  According to the newspaper, which quoted an internal foreign ministry report, Drobnic had met in December with US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, who allegedly suggested to the Slovenian side what their priorities should be during the EU presidency.  Fried encouraged Slovenia to be among the first to recognise the independence of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, the newspaper claimed.

The issue (which came up at yesterday’s State Department press briefing, though not to any great effect) is sure to be excruciatingly embarrassing for Slovenia which, as was widely noted before it assumed the Presidency, was always going to find its task a big test given its tiny diplomatic service.  Serbian media like B92 in Belgrade are leading with headlines such as “Slovenian Presidency tarnished“.

As for the Slovenians themselves, well, the diplomats responsible are being hung out to dry.  The Slovenian foreign ministry press release on this unhappy episode begins:

Those employees of the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who forwarded diplomatic mail of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia Washington on talks of the Ministry’s Political Director in Washington before Christmas are neither loyal Slovenian citizens nor diplomats worth their name. Their acts are illegal, dishonourable and unprofessional. The simultaneous publication in the Ljubljana’s newspaper Dnevnik and Belgrade’s Politika is harmful to the reputation and credibility of Slovenia’s diplomacy and country as such. This could be confirmed by any experienced diplomat.

But my favourite bit of Slovenia’s defence is this:

The talks of the Political Director before Christmas were not ”sensitive”. The Slovenian Embassy’s document, published by Dnevnik, became ”highly sensitive” only when it became public.

Well, yes…