Cablegate: Stability Pact Transition: Seecp Agrees On Rcc Secretary

DE RUEHVB #0427/01 1221309
P 021309Z MAY 07




E.O. 12958: N/A


Ref: A) Brussels 1253 B) Zagreb 184

1. (SBU) Summary: Stability Pact-SEECP meetings April 24-25 in
Zagreb yielded consensus on the final institutional documents
related to the creation of the proposed Regional Cooperation Council
(RCC) as the successor to the Stability Pact in early 2008.
Consensus with respect to the nomination of Croatian Foreign
Ministry State Secretary Hido Biscevic as the first Secretary
General (SG) of the RCC and for Sarajevo as the location of the RCC
secretariat was delayed until Serbia, which saw its bids for the

secretariat and for the SG fail, finally concurred on the April 30

decision deadline. Planning continues for the May 11 SEECP Prime
Ministers meeting in Zagreb, to be proceeded by meetings of the
SEECP Political Directors on May 9, with the Stability Pact Regional
Table and the SEECP Foreign Ministers following on May 10. With the
RCC SG and locations decided, maneuvering within the SEECP is now
focusing on the leadership of the proposed RCC liaison office in
Brussels, with Serbia and Bulgaria the initial competitors to place
one of their nationals in the position. End Summary

2. (U) IWG: Despite concerns over a change of Serbian nominees
for the SG post after the original March 31 deadline (Ref A), the
April 24 Stability Pact-SEECP led Institutional Working Group and
the April 24-25 SEECP Political Directors meetings proceeded
smoothly. The IWG was able to conclude work on the RCC statute,
which was adopted by consensus and transmitted to the SEECP PolDirs
for incorporation into the documents being prepared for the May 11

3. (U) Discussion focused on the IWG task of formulating the RCC
statute and touched on the uncertainty of the SG candidacies. There
was concern and disappointment over Serbia's handling of its nominee
for the SG position, which might leave only one candidate and
revealed the thinness of the regional cooperation leadership pool.
However, the group recognized that resolution of the SG and RCC
location issues resided, as agreed, with the SEECP as a requirement
of regional ownership and leadership. The sole contentious issue to
arise in the IWG involved a strong and successful Greek effort to
ensure that the proposed RCC Secretariat liaison office be clearly
associated with the task of representing the SEECP to the EU (and
NATO) in Brussels.

4. (U) A number of key Stability Pact donors (Norway, Germany,
Austria, US, and the European Commission) had concerns about the SG
situation, and the Norwegian rep (Amb. Gieselen) raised the issue of
the candidates' availability during the transition period leading up
to February 2008. IWG co-chair Grigic (representing the SEECP)
noted that, while the agreed procedures and RCC statute did not
address the issue specifically, both candidates would be available
to meet the needs of the transition.

5. (SBU) PolDirs on RCC Location: The Political Directors
discussion, chaired by Croatian Foreign Ministry State Secretary(and
RCC SG candidate) Biscevic, focused first on the RCC secretariat and
Secretary General decisions before moving to work on Zagreb Summit

documents. The issue of the RCC location was addressed in a
straight-forward discussion and tour de table. Sarajevo received a
near consensus, with the Moldovan rep, apparently with instructions
to support Belgrade, opting to consult with Chisinau, joining
consensus the next day. Serbia, with its bid receiving no support,
indicated that it would take a position on April 30, the agreed
deadline for deciding the PolDir recommendation to the SEECP FMs.

6. (SBU) PolDirs on the SG: The discussion of the SG issue was
more involved, complication by a review of the validity of the
substitute Serbian candidacy. After discussion, a consensus emerged
to accept the second candidacy (former Serbian Ambassador to Croatia
Simurdic) for consideration and to proceed to a decision. During
the discussion, Stability Pact Special Coordinator Busek responded
to a request for his views. He reviewed the Serbian handling of its
nomination, and acknowledged his own efforts to promote a Serbian
candidacy to ensure competition and a strong regional candidate. He
endorsed Biscevic as the best candidate and as someone to whom he
would be proud to pass the Stability Pact legacy. The Biscevic
candidacy then quickly gained a near consensus. Moldova demurred in
order to seek guidance from Chisinau, again joining consensus the
following day. Given the impending defeat of its candidate, Serbia
again reserved its position until the April 30 deadline for a final
PolDirs decision. For his part, Biscevic handled the meeting
respectfully and impartially as Chair, and expressed his personal
commitment to the regional cooperation challenge should his
nomination be confirmed.

7. (U) SEECP Foreign Ministers Meeting and Summit Planning: The
list of likely Summit attendees is evolving, and now includes German
Chancellor Merkel, EU Commission President Barroso, Enlargement
Commissioner Rehn, European Parliament President Pottering,
Stability Pact Special Coordinator, UNMIK/Kosovo SRSG Ruecker
(likely to be accompanied by Kosovo's PM Ceku), and UN Special Envoy
Ahtisaari's Deputy Rohan. The initial Croatian decision to invite

ZAGREB 00000427 002 OF 002

representatives from only the five major donors to the RCC Board
provoked a protest from Slovenia, and now all ten RCC donor
governments will be included in the program. The latest version of
the draft Zagreb Declaration does not include a Russian, although
Amb. Grigic had indicated to Stability Pact interlocutors in late
March that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov would be invited as

8. (SBU) Comment: This first phase of the Stability Pact
transition is nearing a close. The stage is set for the SG and
location nominations to receive Stability Pact Regional Table
concurrence on May 10 and final SEECP endorsement via FMs on May 10
and PMs on May 11.

9. (SBU) The maneuvering within the SEECP is now shifting to the
question of the leadership of the proposed Brussels liaison office.
In its note agreeing to the nominees, Belgrade also served notice
that it will expect a prominent role, most notably with regard to
heading the Brussels office. It will face competition with incoming
SEECP CiO Bulgaria, which has also signaled its desire to lead the
office. For his part, the initial Serbian candidate, former
Serbia-Montenegro FM and SP Working Table I Chair Goran Svilanovic
has probed for support to open the door for him to become a
candidate for Brussels. Stability Pact sources indicate that he
faces dim prospects, given that Serbian PM Kostunica and others will
not accept him for the role because of his liberal stance on Kosovo
and the fact that the RCC will need active Serbian engagement in
regional cooperation if it is to succeed.

10. (U) Looking ahead on the Stability Pact transition, the
accepted timetable through February 2008 calls for an energetic
effort to conclude a seat agreement for the RCC secretariat by June
30, and the Bosnians have indicated that they expect to meet this
deadline. The timetable then allows six months (through December)
for SEECP governments and UNMIK/Kosovo to complete internal
procedures and in some cases, Parliamentary ratification before the
agreement takes effect. Work on a separate agreement to establish
the Brussels liaison office would proceed through the fall, although
it is likely that it will be completed later in the spring of 2008.
The successful SG nominee would begin to engage on the transition
agenda as early as June, when he would be expected to attend the
initial PolDirs meeting hosted by the incoming Bulgarian SEECP CiO
as well as a couple of Stability Pact meetings, at the working
tables or perhaps even the scheduled ministerials (Information
Society on June 21 in Sarajevo and Investment Compact in early July
in Belgrade). The main push to organize the RCC secretariat and to
prepare the final transition would come in the fall, after the
summer holiday period.

11. (SBU) Final Note: With Kosovo negotiations at a critical
juncture, Russian participation in the SEECP Summit is of
considerable interest. At this point, Russian Ambassador to Croatia
Konarovsky will represent Russia at the May 10 Stability Pact
Regional Table, but we have heard nothing further from the Croatian
hosts with respect to the SEECP FM and PM meetings since Grigic
indicated some weeks ago that FM Lavrov would be invited. Russian
participation in the Stability Pact has been low key or non-existent
over the years. End Comment.


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