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Cablegate: Finland: Inviting Countries to Kosovo Steering

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHHE #0056/01 0391415
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 081415Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4056
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0128
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0043
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 1126
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 5522
RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST 0059
RUEHLJ/AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA 0058
RUEHPG/AMEMBASSY PRAGUE 0989
RUEHVJZ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0011
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 0072
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 8658
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 1405
RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA 0115
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 4680
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0954
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0087
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0126
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 0041

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000056

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/07/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV OSCE YI FI
SUBJECT: FINLAND: INVITING COUNTRIES TO KOSOVO STEERING
GROUP

REF: STATE 12026

Classified By: Pol Chief Greg Thome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Finland has signaled its intention to move
very quickly to offer bilateral recognition to an independent
Kosovo. Although the GoF strongly supports a "common EU
platform" in favor of recognition, it recognizes that some
member states' opposition makes this unlikely. Finland is
eager to participate in the Kosovo International Steering
Group (ISG). During his Feb. 5-6 trip to Belgrade and
Pristina, FM and OSCE CiO Kanerva encountered anger and
bitterness, even from President Tadic; the Serbs were willing
to discuss some OSCE-related issues but roundly rejected even
Kanerva's effort to raise EU initiatives, calling the Union
"deceitful." In Pristina, Kanerva told PM Thaci, "Your work
is now only beginning -- don,t expect independence to
produce miracles." END SUMMARY.

2. (U) PolChief delivered reftel demarche to Finnish MFA
Office Director for the Western Balkans Juha Ottman Feb. 8.
Ottman also offered a read-out on Foreign Minister and
current OSCE Chairman in Office (CiO) Ilkka Kanerva,s Feb.
5-6 trip to Serbia and Kosovo.

GOF TO RECOGNIZE KOSOVO; EAGER TO PLAY A ROLE IN ISG
--------------------------------------------- -------
3. (SBU) Ottman confirmed what Kanerva had signaled to the
press earlier this week and what we had reported previously
(reftels): i.e., that Finland will move rapidly to recognize
an independent Kosovo, joining the US and some EU member
states in the "first wave" of countries to do so. Finland
will also strongly support a "common platform" for EU
recognition, even though some member states, strong
objections will likely prevent the platform from emerging.

4. (SBU) Ottman also informed us that the GoF would be very
pleased to join an International Steering Group (ISG) that
would support Kosovo's development as an independent state.
Promoting peace and stability in Kosovo has been a top GoF
foreign policy priority since 1999, Ottman reminded, and
Finland is already moving forward with a new package of
security and development assistance. Finland will increase
its peacekeeping presence from 400 to 450 troops and will
resume a "framework nation" role within NATO/KFOR this
spring. The GoF has approved sending 80 experts to Kosovo as
part of the EU Rule of Law mission, and has authorized $15
million in development assistance over the next three years.
Given this long-term commitment, the offer of a position on
the ISG is very welcome, Ottman said.

ICY RECEPTION IN BELGRADE
-------------------------
4. (C) Regarding Kanerva,s Feb. 5-6 visit to the region, the
"tone in Serbia was remarkably negative," Ottman noted. The
Serbs were incensed that the EU had announced publicly the
approval of its Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, a move that
Prime Minister Kostunica told Kanerva was "deceitful."
Belgrade remains adamantly opposed to the Ahtisaari Plan, and
Kostunica condemned the EU Mission as "de facto
implementation of Ahtisaari -- which we cannot accept." Even
President Tadic angrily criticized the timing of the EU
announcement, Ottman reported. Tadic told Kanerva that he
firmly believes in promoting the European perspective for his
country, but that as president he is also bound to "defend"
Serbia's territorial integrity. Beyond these conversations,
Kanerva,s efforts to raise other EU-related issues were
rejected, with FM Jeremic canceling a lunch in which he and
Kanerva were to discuss Serbia,s Stabilization and
Association Agreement (SAA).

KOSOVO: "YOUR WORK IS ONLY BEGINNING"
-------------------------------------
5. (C) In Pristina, PM Thaci signaled that Kosovo would
declare independence "any day," but he assured Kanerva that
his government would coordinate the announcement well in
advance with EU and NATO partners. Thaci and other leaders
eagerly argued that Kosovo is ready for independence; Kanerva
agreed, but told them, "Your work is now only beginning,"
especially in terms of developing the economy and ensuring
the rule of law. "Don't expect independence to produce
miracles." Kanerva urged the Kosovars to press for extending
the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK). Thaci agreed that this is
important, although he reportedly complained about the need
for the OSCE to provide more support for Kosovar institutions
-- and about the activities of OSCE Rep Guildiman. Kanerva
acknowledged that there had been some problems and that as
CiO he would seek to address them, but he also urged Thaci to
maintain a supportive relationship with OMIK.

6. (C) NOTE: Ottman added as an aside that Moscow is all but
certain to prevent OMIK's mandate from being renewed if
Pristina declares independence. However, the Finns are now
picking up signals that Moscow might subsequently allow a
smaller OSCE mission to be reconstituted, perhaps in three or
four months. While the Russians want to make a big show of
their unhappiness over an independence declaration, they are
also coming to realize that with no OSCE presence on the
ground in Kosovo, Russia will also have no presence, Ottman
opined. Kanerva is convinced that a 200-person mission would
be affordable from a financial perspective and could provide
a sufficient complement to the EU mission, once it stands up,
Ottman added. END NOTE.
WARE

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