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Cablegate: Second Visit of Status of Forces Negotiation Team

VZCZCXRO7884
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHPG #1064/01 2571420
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141420Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9616
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 1900
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRAGUE 001064

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MASS MARR EZ
SUBJECT: SECOND VISIT OF STATUS OF FORCES NEGOTIATION TEAM
TO PRAGUE

REF: A. PRAGUE 529
B. PRAGUE 1051

1. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador Jackson McDonald and an
interagency delegation met with representatives of the Czech
Government in Prague to continue negotiations on a
supplemental Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) September
11-12. Overall, the two sides had good, constructive talks
and were able to discuss nearly all of the articles in the
agreement. The Czechs continued to insist that the SOFA be
limited solely to the radar site and noted a broad-based SOFA
would likely not be ratified by parliament. Other areas of
concern included criminal jurisdiction, taxation, claims and
environmental issues. The two sides agreed to hold the next
rounds of negotiations in October. End Summary.

SCOPE OF AGREEMENT REMAINS MAJOR PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCE
----- -- --------- ------- ----- ------------- ----------

2. (SBU) During his opening statement, First Deputy Minister
of Defense Martin Bartak said for domestic political reasons
related to the history of Soviet forces on Czech territory,
the scope of the SOFA must be limited to the radar site.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar reinforced this point
when he joined the negotiations on the second day. This
divergence of viewpoints was evident throughout the text of
the Czech counterproposal. Ambassador McDonald explained the
U.S. reasoning for a broad SOFA and showed considerable
flexibility in crafting mutually agreeable text throughout
the agreement while leaving this fundamental conceptual
difference tabled. Regardless of the eventual scope of the
SOFA, the Czechs agreed the Ballistic Missile Defense
Agreement (BMDA) and SOFA supplemental should remain separate
documents with equal legal status.

AREAS FOR FURTHER CONCENTRATION
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) Throughout the negotiations, the Czech side noted
provisions that would not be acceptable to parliament,
occasionally invoking articles of the Czech constitution.
The sides exchanged their reasoning on these issues and
looked for compatible language where feasible. The Czechs
were professional and well-prepared to discuss these points,
but stated repeatedly that their mandate to negotiate
provided by the Czech National Security Council kept them on
a short leash.

4. (SBU) In terms of specific provisions, the most
contentious articles appear to be criminal jurisdiction,
taxation, claims and environmental issues. In particular,
the Czech counterproposal stated they will not waive their
primary right to exercise criminal jurisdiction in advance on
a range of offenses, and leave default authority criminal
jurisdiction to Czech authorities. Ministry of Defense
Director of Defense Policy and Strategy Ivan Dvorak claimed
most of the public focus will be on this article and said "we
can kill the agreement with this." Ambassador McDonald
recognized the political sensitivity of the issue and
suggested a meeting of subject matter experts in order to
provide information on the U.S. experience with other NATO
allies.

NEXT STEPS
----------

5. (SBU) The two sides agreed to a series of information
exchanges in the coming weeks, including a meeting between
European Command and Czech legal experts to discuss criminal
jurisdiction and environmental protection. The U.S. side
will provide in approximately two weeks a consolidated text
containing the provisionally agreed-upon language and all
articles which still need to be negotiated. Ambassador
McDonald and lead negotiator Ivan Dvorak agreed that the next
meeting could possibly take place in the second half of
October, and will be in contact to finalize the exact date.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) This was once again a thoroughly-prepared Czech team
that shares the U.S. objective of getting to a workable
agreement that can survive the parliamentary ratification
process. A great deal of work remains, most importantly on
whether the SOFA should be of general application or limited
to the radar site. The Czech side understands U.S. reasoning

PRAGUE 00001064 002 OF 002


for a broad agreement, but it was clear from these
negotiations that a decision to move away from a
site-specific SOFA will need to come from the highest level
of government.

7. (SBU) This cable was cleared by Ambassador McDonald.
THOMPSON-JONES

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