Zee Germans (a.k.a.: I Know What You Did Last Summer)

As predicted, the transcripts of Janša’s confabulation with Sanader are about to surface. But according to this report by RTV SLO’s website (a state television!), which quotes POP TV (the competition!) it was actually the German intelligence service BND which eavesdropped on Janša and Sanader and then told Slovene intelligence SOVA what it stumbled upon, and it was that which SOVA’s then-director (the top spy) Iztok Podbregar reported to the then-PM Tone Rop.

Protection from what? Zee Germans?!? (a clip from Snatch)

Now, why is this important?

1.) Because Podbregar is finally due to testify before the parliamentary Committee for Inteligence Services Oversight, where he is largely expected to confirm what BND has apparently publicly confirmed. This is a very safe position for Podbregar, because the topic of his testimony is now a matter of public record and he will not be furhter endangering the already strained relations between SOVA and BND which were cooperating closely in hunting down Radovan Karadžić.

2.) Beacuse it gives more credibility to statements of former PM Tone Rop, who maintained that transcripts of the conversation(s) between Janša and Sanader did exist, even if they were removed from SOVA’s files. You can always count on the Germans to keep a file on everything.

3.) Because it signals a shift in Slovene-German relations. If the reports are correct then you can be sure that the BND did’t leak this information on its own, but got clearance from someone very high in the German administration. And that should set off Janša‘s klaxons. Not having Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s good ear in a period just prior to Slovenia’s EU presidency spells grief in three month’s time, this in turn meaning that something must have gone completely wrong in relaltionship between Ljubljana and Berlin, especially since both Janša and Merkel belong to the same European People’s Party.

4.) Given the above, one starts to wonder about stories that the PM is in serious talks about selling Slovenske Železnice (Slovene train operator) to German DeutscheBahn and about selling Telekom Slovenije (Slovene near-monopoly fixed-telephony operator) to Deutsche Telekom. Have the talks already collapsed and is this a form of German revenge or just a sort of “peer-pressure”, as in “I-know-what-you-did-last-summer-and-am-gonna-blow-the-whistle-if-I-don’t-get-a-good-deal“?

5.) The fact that state-television website reports a story which was broken by the competition and does nothing to protect the Ultimate Boss could mean (notice the conditional, please) that this government is fast losing its grip on things and cannot even control its own media. Given that media-control is Janša’s speciallity this could mean that he’s in more trouble than originally thought.

And, last but not least:

6.) The Germans are careful as to not make anything official. Both Slovene televisions quote dr. Udo Ulfkotte as saying that BND is in possesion of the transcripts and so should be SOVA, implying that they were removed by Janša’s government, since the latter claims that no such documents exist.

Now, dr. Ulfkotte is not a government official, but apparently an outside advisor to the German government on intelligence matters, which automatically means that any and all statements are his own and are not official Berlin positions. Meaning that this is Angela Merkel is sending a strong but totally deniable message to Janša, hoping he’ll understand it and make the “right” choice: sell two thirds of Slovene infrastructure to German companies. If not, she’ll crush him to solar dust.

Funny thing is, that this may very well be enough to deliver a very strong blow to Janša’s credibility, making him a lame-duck PM, especially if the opposition maintains the self-discipline not to start impeaching him, but letting him cook in his own sauce of espionage scandals, economic fuck-ups and hoping for a screw-up or two during the EU presidency which will have to be solved by the big boys (and a girl).

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

10 thoughts on “Zee Germans (a.k.a.: I Know What You Did Last Summer)”

  1. Wait a minute… I have to check this out:

    “Now, dr. Ulfkotte is not a government official, but apparently an outside advisor to the German government on intelligence matters, which automatically means that any and all statements are his own and are not official Berlin positions. Meaning that this is Angela Merkel is sending a strong but totally deniable message to Janša

    Where is the connection between dr. Ulfkotte and Merkel?
    My hubby says (just like you do) for any such story to come out someone at BND must have approved of the leakage. But I suspect the connection between an intelligence service and its government is not necessarily always existing, or having a “linear form”, a cause-and-result connection. Would Merkel really care that much for small Slovenian businesses?

  2. That’s precisely it… dr. Ulfkotte’s connection to the higher level of the Bundesregierung is clear (him being an advisor on a delicate issue such as intelligence services), but having him break the unpleasant news, Angela Merkel can still keep her face with regards to Janša. If Janša somehow devises a way to skate clean out of this one, Merkel can always say that dr. Ulfkotte said all there bad things on his own and that she had nothing to do with it. Janša will obviously not belive her, but it’s all about keeping up appearances.

    As for Angela caring for small Slovenian businesses – she wouldn’t but Deutsche Telekom and DeutscheBahn would, as Slovenia is at the infrastructural crossroads of Europe (not to mention the so called “Corridor Five” from Madrid to Kiev). There’s money to be made here, and I’m sure Angela is pressing Janša not because she’d care to, but because these companies want her to. And I’m sure both donated heavily to the CDU election campaign 😉

  3. Hmm, the story reminds me on something we call “Sommerschlussverkauf in Germany (summer clearance sale). The thing is, that Slo would sell it’s infrastructure to German companies which are about to be sold (DB) or have already been sold (DTAG). I don’t know anything about the service at “Slovenske Železnice”, but if they are sold, things probably won’t get better if they are controlled by DB with it’s crappy business conduct. And talking about Deutsche Telekom, well, you’ll probably be reminded of that “SIOL pwnage” quite often, believe me. I just don’t wanna know who got how much money to support such obvious bullshit.

  4. This all sounds pretty credible but I’m with Alcessa, I have a hard time believing Merkel is pulling the strings on this thing. The German acquisition of train and telekom will still probably only represent a small percentage of yearly revenue. There is probably a small group of lobbyists/ outside consultants who are pushing the issue forward and the higher-ups are just signing off on it.

    One of the 48 Laws of Power is to Keep Your Hands Clean. This is fair enough, but when Janša (and other Slovene officials) are doing the Germans dirty work (by sheer neglect) then you know Slovenia has a problem on its hands.

    What a mess!

  5. Oh, I get it now, there’s been a slight misunderstanding… When I said “Angela Merkel”, I meant “German government”. I’m terribly sorry… Obviously Angela Merkel cannot be bothered to deal with a two-bit small-time PM like Janša.

    What I meant to say is that someone close to her is pulling the strings (perhaps her chief of staff or his subordinates) and doing the dirty work. But ultimately, she’s running the government, so technically, she can be held accountable.

    And I think I covered the “keep your hands clean” rule – that’s why dr. Ulfkotte is speaking to the media and not any of the numerous government officials. “Keep your hands clean” today translates into “Keep it deniable”.

  6. I know 😀 Blame it on my professional deformation… Being a journalist I like to keep things as simple as possible, often “personalizing” offices and institutions (like saying Merkel instead of the German Government).

    But the point remains the same, nevertheless 😀

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