Austrian Ambassador to U.S. at University of Tampa on WikiLeaks:"Not the first leak...and will not be the last one"

Prosi said he thought American diplomats were among the best in the world, and expressed disappointment about how State Department officials don't seem to garner as much respect in the U.S. compared to other government officials.

The Ambassador said that in this time of globalization, diplomacy is needed more than ever.  "We have so many larger countries having more to say now: China, India, Brazi, South Africa, Nigeria.  These countries have a lot to say, and it is important for the U.S. and Austria to know: what are their feelings? What do they think? How do they see human rights?  Do they support a free market or is this a one-party system that will never change?"

In an exchange with the audience (which consistently mainly, but not exclusively, of UT students), Prosi did express concerns that other have about the WikiLeaks leaks - specifically the document dump related to Afghanistan last year - where there were concerns that sources names were revealed and that they were suddenly vulnerable ("If somebody got hunt, that'd be terrible of course," he said).

Before being named the Ambassador to the U.S. in late 2009, Prosi served as the Austrian Ambassador to Germany.  The 64-year-old worked for the United Nations in the 1970's, but since 1977 has worked in various posts in Foreign Affairs for the Austrian government, whom he refers to as "neutral."

In closing, Prosi spoke of living in an open society, and says to live in such a society, people must participate in it.

Christian Prosi, the Austrian Ambassador to the United States, spoke about the virtues of modern diplomacy and the WikiLeaks controversy in an address at the University of Tampa Tuesday afternoon.

"WikiLeaks is not the first leak, and it will definitely not be the last one," he said shortly into his formal remarks at the Vaughn Center.  Saying he didn't want to appear cynical, the ambassador made it clear that the revelations - at least as far he could tell - weren't the worst thing to happen to U.S. diplomacy (a sentiment shared by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates among others).  "Sooner or later, what you have written will come up, in the newspaper or in your memoirs, or in the memoirs of someone who likes you.." he mused.

With the ubiquity of the Internet, and specifically sites like YouTube and Facebook, more and more people are becoming aware that anything and everything they say and do has the potential to be captured and revealed to the masses.  Ambassador Prosi says he's always taken that mindset with his job, which is why he says he doesn't use names or reveal sources in the cables he sends back to Vienna.

More than WikiLeaks, Prosi said he was more concerned about the possibility of computer hackers breaking into of his and other countries computers, and said in the future it might be better for Western governments to agree to meet in some agreed upon destination rather than electronically (The European born diplomat suggested Madrid or Paris as suitable locales, which probably would work better for those officials who need to speak who live on the other side of the Atlantic).

As far as the impact of the thousands of cables leaked by Julian Assange's organization, Prosi said that he himself rarely uses names in the cables he sends back to his government in Vienna.  And he had no real criticism of Assange, but more with those who leaked the documents (strongly rumored to be Private First Class Bradley Manning, who is being held as a criminal suspect in the leaking of classified documents to WikiLeaks at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia).

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