Too much transparency?

by MONITOR

DOES “transparency” have a limit? If too much can be seen of, say, the workings of diplomacy, will this in the end make the business of international negotiation even more difficult than it normally is? Denmark has always been a country committed to open government but a documentary film due to be shown on Danish TV on Tuesday may raise awkward questions about how far the principle can be carried in diplomatic practice. During Denmark's presidency of the European Union last year its prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, kept a promise made to a TV producer to give cameras access to his office and to himself during the difficult negotiations on enlargement of the EU; naturally some very hard bargaining went on and the atmosphere was often tense. In advance of Tuesday's screening there have been leaks about what the cameras saw and heard; the German Foreign Minister, Joshka Fischer is said to be accused by the Danes of changing his mind three times in 12 hours about Turkey's application for EU membership and of appearing to support this in public while opposing it in private. Herr Schroder, the German Chancellor is said to have tried to block a necessary compromise with Poland. There is no word yet on what revelations the programme will reveal about President Chirac's tactics or Mr Blair's contribution The obvious question is whether Mr Rasmussen told his EU colleagues of the privileged access he had granted to the TV producer. If, as seems probable, he did not, he is guilty of discourtesy at best and deception at worst.

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