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Cablegate: Bulgarian Nurses: Getting Back to Effective

VZCZCXRO3131
OO RUEHTRO
DE RUEHSF #0232 0521214
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211214Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SOFIA 000232

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR NEA/MAG, EUR/NCE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/21/2017
TAGS: PREL PHUM LY BU
SUBJECT: BULGARIAN NURSES: GETTING BACK TO EFFECTIVE
DIPLOMACY

REF: TRIPOLI 166

CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JOHN BEYRLE, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

1. (C) WE APPRECIATE REFTEL UPDATE ON THE QADHAFI FOUNDATION LETTER AND THE STATE OF PLAY IN TRIPOLI. IT COMES AS THE GOB CONCLUDES TWO DAYS OF HIGH-LEVEL IN-HOUSE DISCUSSIONS ON THE NURSES ISSUE, IN ADVANCE OF THE EU WORKING GROUP ON FEBRUARY 22 AND AMBASSADOR BEYRLE'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT PARVANOV ON FEBRUARY 27. THESE MEETINGS MAY PRESENT OUR BEST CHANCE TO GUIDE BG/EU THINKING AWAY FROM FURTHER ESCALATION AND TOWARD A UNITED DIPLOMATIC APPROACH.

2. (C) FEELING -- AND FEEDING -- DOMESTIC PRESSURE ON THE NURSES' FATE, THE BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT HAS UPPED THE DECIBEL LEVEL, MAKING DIPLOMACY HARDER. AFTER SUCCESSFULLY ENLISTING EU SUPPORT AGAINST LIBYA, BULGARIA IS IN FURTHER DANGER OF BECOMING A VICTIM OF ITS OWN SUCCESS -- THE MORE EUROPEAN POLITICIANS AND PUNDITS SPEAK OUT, THE MORE THE GOB RISKS LOSING CONTROL OF THE PROCESS. LIBYAN ACTION AND REACTION HAS FUELED EVEN MORE ANGER AND FRUSTRATION. IT'S TIME TO DE-EMOTIONALIZE THE ISSUE. THE BULGARIANS -- AND PERHAPS OTHERS -- WILL NEED OUR HELP TO PULL THAT OFF. THE EU'S FEBRUARY 22 MEETING IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACCELERATE THAT PROCESS. THE U.S. CAN PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN PERSUADING BULGARIANS AND EUROPEAN PARTNERS ALIKE TO WALK BACK FROM UNHELPFUL RHETORIC AND ADOPT A UNITED APPROACH TO LIBYA -- INCLUDING TO THE QADHAFI FOUNDATION'S RECENT "ROAD MAP" PROPOSAL.

3. (C) SPECIFICALLY, WE SHOULD:

- EMPHASIZE THE NEED FOR BULGARIANS AND EUROPEANS TO LOWER THE RHETORICAL VOLUME IN PUBLIC;
- ENCOURAGE AN EU UNITED FRONT, BUILDING ON (AND FOLLOWING) THE UK'S LEADERSHIP;
- SUPPORT A NEAR-TERM MEETING OF THE U.S./UK/EU/BULGARIA WORKING GROUP -- WITH LIBYAN PARTICIPATION -- TO RECONFIRM THE OVERALL "DEAL" ON RELEASE, TIMING OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS, AND NEXT STEPS WITH THE FOUNDATION AND EU ACTION PLAN;
- COORDINATE CLOSELY TO MANAGE PUBLIC EXPECTATIONS AND AVOID A REPEAT OF THE POST-DECEMBER 19 OUTCRY AND BACKLASH IN THE EVENT THAT THE SUPREME COURT RECONFIRMS THE MEDICS' DEATH SENTENCE; AND,
- ENLIST THE EU'S SUPPORT IN CONVINCING BULGARIA AND LIBYA TO RETURN TO PRIVATE DIPLOMACY.

4. (C) GETTING THE EU AND INDIVIDUAL MEMBER STATES ON BOARD NOW IS PARAMOUNT IF THE NURSES ARE TO HAVE A CHANCE OF RETURNING HOME IN THE NEAR TERM. THE "GROUP OF FOUR" WORKING GROUP HAD MADE CONSIDERABLE PROGRESS BEFORE DECEMBER 19, AND IT SHOULD RETAIN THE LEAD IN WORKING WITH THE LIBYANS. NEW EU GROUPINGS WILL NOT HELP MOVE US FORWARD (AS THE BRITS AGREE). BULGARIA NEEDS TO ABSORB FROM ITS PARTNERS THAT QUIET DIPLOMACY -- HOWEVER FRUSTRATING -- WORKS WITH TRIPOLI, WHILE LIBYA NEEDS TO HEAR CLEARLY THAT THE ONLY WAY TO BUILD ON ITS SUCCESS IN RECENT YEARS (AND LIMIT PR DAMAGE FROM THIS FESTERING ISSUE) IS TO ACT SERIOUSLY, RESPONSIBLY, AND QUICKLY. A UNITED EU, ORCHESTRATED BY THE UK AND WITH THE GERMAN PRESIDENCY AND THE COMMISSION IN SUPPORT, CAN DRIVE HOME THESE TWIN MESSAGES AND RE-ENERGIZE PRIVATE, EFFECTIVE DIPLOMACY.

BEYRLE

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