Cablegate: Mission Usnato

Published: Fri 25 Jul 2008 03:45 PM
DE RUEHNO #0265/01 2071545
P 251545Z JUL 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L USNATO 000265
Classified By: Charge dAffaires Richard G. Olson, Jr. for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY. Assistant Secretary Dan Fried met with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer July 22 in Brussels and later informally briefed PermReps, delivering a warning in both meetings about the dangers of continued delay in UNMIK reconfiguration and EULEX deployment throughout Kosovo and calling attention to the need for immediate progress in deescalating the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict to reverse the deterioration on the ground. In their private meeting, the SYG expressed concern about the potential for a divisive debate within the Alliance in December over whether to grant Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Ukraine and Georgia in light of what he saw as unwavering German and French opposition. He floated the idea, which he said German Chancellor Merkel has hinted at, of agreeing in December to extend MAP to the two countries in 2010, assuming continue progress in their reforms (and "unless something horrible happens"). Fried said such a decision would give perverse incentives to Russia to instigate "something horrible," e.g., a war. Fried also told the SYG and PermReps the U.S. is willing to listen to details about Russian President Medvedevs proposal for a new security architecture for Euro-Atlantic relations, but for now the proposal recalled Soviet proposals from the 1970s. Fried briefed the SYG on progress in U.S.-Polish missile defense talks and the SYG expressed concern about the deterioration in atmospherica between Macedonia and Greece over the name issue. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) In a July 22 meeting at NATO HQ in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told Assistant Secretary Fried he saw the need for an "inventive" strategy in the run up to the December decision of NATO Foreign Ministers on whether to grant Membership Action Plan to Ukraine and Georgia. He said he did not see Germany or France softening their opposition to a positive decision in December and wanted to prevent an Alliance-splitting debate. The SYG added that whatever the decision, it needed to keep Russia under pressure and should not link MAP to progress in the frozen conflicts since such a linkage would only give Russia an incentive to further inflame the conflicts. The SYG noted that German Chancellor Merkel had floated the idea of deciding in December that Ukraine and Georgia would get MAP in 2010, "unless something terrible happened," an approach he thought would keep pressure on Russia while preserving Allied unity.
3. (C) Fried agreed that any link between MAP and progress in the frozen conflicts only gave Russia incentives to cause problems and noted that the current Friends of Georgia framework is flawed since Russia is a member of the group, and thus a facilitator in efforts to resolve the conflict while at the same time a party to the conflict. Regarding the proposal to decide in December to grant Ukraine and Georgia MAP in 2010, Fried said this approach could give a perverse incentive to Russia to stimulate something "horrible," and Russia might calculate that it would be better to provoke a conflict sooner rather than later in Georgia. The SYG said he would have to give the idea more thought, and cautioned that simply increasing the pressure on Germany would not change its position. He also pleaded with Fried to tell Georgian President Saakashvili not to pull any surprises during the North Atlantic Councils September 4-5 visit to Georgia.
4. (C) On Kosovo, Fried said he was worried about paralysis in the negotiations between UN and EU over reconfiguration from UNMIK to EULEX. This continued dithering risked wasting the "golden hour" when NATO and the EU have maximum leverage over a moderate government in Kosovo and the situation on the ground is still stable. He did not want to look back on this time in several years as a missed opportunity before Kosovar politics become radicalized and violent in response to frustrations with the Wests inaction. There is currently no plan for getting EULEX into the north, or to fully re-establish the border crossings in the north, and he worried that time was wasting while the UN and EU bureaucracies dithered over minute details. He also warned that the phrase "status neutral" being used by some international organizations was dangerous since it led down a path to giving equal legitimacy to illegal Serb parallel institutions (often dominated by radical Serbian elements and simple thugs) and the Kosovo government. He told the SYG he
hoped NATO would never use the term.
5. (C) The SYG replied that he would never use the term "status neutral" publicly but there were still members of the Alliance who had not recognized Kosovo. He said he was worried about the plan UNSRSG Zannier announced at the July 18 "Friends of Kosovo" meeting to raise the UN flag over the Mitrovica courthouse, phase in European judges and staff, and then eventually raise the EU flag. The SYG was concerned because Zannier said he had not consulted the Kosovo government about this plan, even though they might well support it. The SYG commented that he intended to ask NATO Military Authorities to try to "find a way around" the impasse that prevented the North Atlantic Council from approving a revised OPLAN for KFOR so the negotiations would not hit the same blockage when they resume.
6. (C) Fried noted that Russian President Medvedevs proposal for a new security architecture for Euro-Atlantic security recalled Soviet era proposals. The U.S. did not know what exactly the Russians were proposing; perhaps neither did the Russians. The SYG said PermReps would have a discussion that afternoon on the issue and it was on the agenda for an upcoming NATO-Russia Council meeting. The SYG said the Alliance needed to be careful since after the NRC Russian Ambassador Rogozin may publicly tout the fact that NATO was discussing Medvedevs proposals.
7. (C) Fried reported that the Czechs had asked the U.S. to be low-key in its response to Russias reducing of its oil shipments to the Czech Republic shortly after the signing of the U.S.-Czech agreement on missile defense. Russia barely denied that the cutback was politically motivated, which was worrisome, Fried said. When Russia cut the oil supplies to the Ukraine in 2006 Russia denied it was politically motivated and they were embarrassed by the outcry in Europe. But now they merely go through the motions of denial of political motivations of use of oil for political leverage. Such pressure tactics were becoming "the new normal." The SYG commented that many European governments still deny that the use of oil as a political tool was part of Russian foreign policy.
8. (C) In response to a question from the SYG, Fried reported on his July 21 meeting with Polish PM Sikorski on missile defense, saying that the Poles were asking for the stationing of U.S. Patriot batteries in Poland. The U.S. had proposed rotational, rather than permanent, U.S. deployments of Patriots, but the Poles wanted more. The U.S. would look at what other offers it might make, but would not likely give a guarantee of permanent basing of Patriots. Fried said he had told the Poles that if Patriot missiles were the main outstanding issue, it would be helpful to resolve all secondary matters and focus attention on the Patriot issue. He thought the two sides now had offered enough to sign a deal: a strategic partnership, a willingness to develop creative financing for PAC acquisitions or other purposes, and rotational deployment of Patriot missiles. The SYG said he had warned the Poles not to undermine Article 5 of the Washington Treaty by asking for more and more from the U.S. on a bilateral basis as part of the missile defense agreement.
9. (C) The SYG expressed concerns about recent Macedonian actions, such as PM Gruevskis public letter to PM Karamanlis, that were dimming prospects for an agreement on the name issue. Fried noted that the Greeks also shared the blame for the deterioration in the negotiations. He said Gruevski had told him he sent the letter to Karamanlis as a way of pushing back against the Greeks inserting extraneous (historical) issues into the negotiations. Fried said he had cautioned Gruevski that while the Macedonian reaction was understandable, it was nevertheless an unhelpful way to push back against the Greeks. Macedonia needed to keep its eye on the goal of reaching agreement on the name issue. The SYG noted that Gruevski had also just sent a letter to European Commission President Barroso with the same complaints.
10. (C) On July 23, Fried informally discussed Kosovo with NATO Permanent Representatives, expressing frustration with the lack of movement on UNMIKs reconfiguration and the EULEX UN, EU DELAY IN KOSOVO AND OF POLITICAL DRIFT IN GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ CONFLICT
deployment. Characterizing the situation as urgent, Fried warned that we were in danger of losing the opportunity of relative peace and stability in Kosovo while the EU and the UN dither over the draft MOU. He said that despite the UN SYGs order for UNMIK reconfiguration last month, nothing had actually happened and that issues such as use of office space were holding up an agreement between the UN and EU. "This is the golden moment, and we are wasting it," he said. He further pushed that EULEX should deploy to the north as soon as possible and that while dialogue with Serbia could continue, no one should seek permission or hand a veto on EULEX deployment to Belgrade. Further delays in EULEXs deployment would only thrust KFOR into the role of first responder. Fried urged Allies to press the EU and the UN to find a way forward.
11. (C) Allies who spoke on Kosovo - Spain, Italy, and Belgium - acknowledged that delay served no one, but said that other important issues such as privileges and immunities were also delaying the transition. Spain noted that the new UN representative for Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier, had only just met with EU reps for the first time and that the transition phase had only just begun. Allies endorsed Frieds points on continued engagement with Serbia and remarked that all EU colleagues are clear on no veto for Belgrade. Fried agreed with Allies and recognized the importance of resolving other issues such as privileges and immunities, but emphasized that the situation could become more difficult if there is continued delay.
12. (C) Fried briefed Permanent Representatives on the current deteriorating situation in Abkhazia, Georgia as a result of increasing rhetoric and violence from both sides. Saying the U.S. feared a "hot August," Fried said there was an increased resolve in Washington to try to find a way forward through the Western Friends of Georgia which would include engagement with the Abkhaz. Commending German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and the German-led initiatives, Fried said he was cautiously optimistic that engagement with the Abkhaz could open up a new process for achieving stability and give Sokhumi other options than relying on Moscow. Fried told the Allies, however, that Russia might overplay its hand by either slowing or blocking the process - in which case Russia should have to pay a political price - and might lead to an unstable situation by the fall. Fried concluded by saying that the U.S. is actively working with Germany and was looking forward to next weeks Friends of Georgia meeting in Berlin.
13. (C) Fried responded to Canadian questions about Georgian efforts to declare Russias peacekeeping presence illegal by saying that the U.S. had actively discouraged such a move since it would not change the situation on the ground and it would do more harm than good. In response to a Canadian question regarding Medvedevs proposals for a new Euro-Atlantic security architecture, Fried described the proposal as being "back in the 1970s" and that while the U.S. was willing to listen to details and engage on constructive proposals, it would not support anything that would subordinate NATO to other organizations or undermine the CFE. Fried was supported by the Spanish and Italian PermReps who said that in reality there was nothing to the Russian proposal.
14. (U) Assistant Secretary Fried cleared this message.
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