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Cablegate: Czechs Struggle to Advance Eu Position On Burma

VZCZCXRO2193
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHPG #1303/01 3481513
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141513Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9903
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRAGUE 001303

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EAP/MLS FOR AARON COPE, EUR/NCE FOR ALEX TRATENSEK, EUR/ERA
FOR PEGGY WALKER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV BM EZ EUN
SUBJECT: CZECHS STRUGGLE TO ADVANCE EU POSITION ON BURMA

REF: A. LISBON 3145
B. STATE 164893
C. PRAGUE 1212
D. PRAGUE 1169
E. PRAGUE 1158
F. PRAGUE 1124

1. (SBU) Czech MFA officials in the Asia Pacific, and Human
Rights and Transition Policy Departments were eager to hear
our perspective on the current situation in Burma. They spoke
about their efforts to move the EU beyond a "wait and see"
approach as well as their work on a bilateral basis. They
also offered ideas on how to engage Burma's neighbors through
support for Burmese refugees in these countries and the need
to rally around Gambari.

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EU - Waiting on Developments
----------
2. (SBU) Marek Libricky, Deputy Director in the Asia Pacific
Department, indicated that at the December 11 EU experts
meeting on Burmese sanctions they discussed whether to take a
positive (provide incentives) or negative (sanctions)
approach to Burma. There are EU opponents to both options,
so for the time being the EU is taking the "wait and see"
approach. At the meeting, Libricky indicated that EU member
states specifically debated financial sanctions against the
three state-owned banks that handle foreign exchange
transactions for Burma. There are apparently four European
banks that could be affected by such a move. Three of these
banks are British and one is Swedish. According to the
Czechs, each of the EU member states is evaluating now
whether such a move is possible under domestic legislation.
They plan to consult again (Note: it was unclear when this
would occur) with an eye toward developments in Burma and
decide what, if any, next steps to take. The Czechs have
made clear they oppose incentives, while a few others (Spain,
and perhaps Germany) are opposed to sanctions and the vast
majority are simply seized with other matters closer to their
front door (Kosovo, CFE, Energy Security, etc.).

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Engage Burma's Neighbors Through Support for Refugees
----------
3. (SBU) The Czechs share our belief that engagement with the
regime by Burma's neighbors is key. They also believe that
these neighbors are reluctant to act, in part because they
fear the effects of a flood of Burmese refugees if the
situation deteriorates any further. According to Libricky,
the Czechs proposed at the experts meeting that the EU
explore providing assistance to Burmese refugees living in
these neighboring countries. This, he believes, would
demonstrate international community commitment to share the
burden of displaced people, while also providing a
face-saving measure to some financially-strapped neighbors
facing a potential wave of refugees. He was disheartened,
however, because he noted that this went over like a lead
balloon with his EU counterparts.

----------
Multiple Entry Visa for Gambari?
----------
4. (SBU) During the discussion of the difficulties UN Special
Advisor Gambari has faced each and every time he has
attempted to travel to Burma, the Czechs think the
international community should rally around Gambari and
pressure the Burmese regime to grant Gambari a multiple-entry
visa. In their opinion, as representative of the UN
Secretary General, Gambari should not have to request a visa

SIPDIS
from the regime every time he wishes to visit Burma.

----------
Exploring Additional Bilateral Efforts
----------
5. (SBU) In addition to humanitarian assistance, the Czechs
already are funding human rights and democratic transition
projects in several areas to help Burmese citizens (reftel
f). Both Czech MFA departments noted that with so little
happening on the EU front, they are exploring augmenting
bilateral funding for a few additional proposals from the
Czech NGOs People in Need and Burma Center Prague, both of
which have expressed an interest in capacity building
targeted at a handful of Burmese student leaders.

6. (SBU) Comment: We have an enthusiastic ally in the Czechs
on this topic. They were clearly pleased that we sought
their input on how to move the ball forward on Burma. These
officials did not hesitate to share their insights into EU
dynamics on this topic and they are clearly trying to think

PRAGUE 00001303 002 OF 002


creatively about ways to effect change. While they appeared
disheartened that the EU is moving slowly in this area, it is
their stated intention to continue pressing ahead bilaterally
and within the EU.
Graber

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