Search

 

Cablegate: Fifth Visit of Status of Forces Negotiation Team

VZCZCXRO0493
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHPG #0074/01 0370826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060826Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0020
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 1941
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRAGUE 000074

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

REF: PRAGUE 37

1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: 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) on January
27-30 and on the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement on
January 31. Acting Under Secretary John Rood will continue
the BMDA round on February 7 (septel). The pace of the SOFA
round was much slower than previous meetings, most likely due
to significant differences of opinion on a few basic legal
principles rather than a deliberate Czech attempt to slow
negotiations because of external influences such as Poland.
While progress was made on a few SOFA articles (most notably
on taxation) and one article was finalized, the pace was
further disrupted when the Czechs introduced new language to
previously agreed text and significantly walked back
agreed-upon language on environmental protection.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT CONTINUED: The Czechs maintain
their position that the SOFA be limited to the radar site and
repeated their refrain that The Czech parliament would not
ratify a broad-based SOFA. They escalated this point during
this round, saying they were not sure a broad SOFA would even
pass government review. As we expected, the Green Party
appears to have punched above its weight during the Czech
State Security Council meeting on January 17 which resulted
in a hard line on Czech environmental protection language in
both the SOFA and the BMD agreement. Other areas of concern
remaining include language demanding compliance with, versus
respect for, Czech laws and procedures; criminal
jurisdiction; construction permits; and claims. The two
sides agreed to hold a series of expert meetings to discuss
difficult issues before the next formal round of SOFA
negotiations in early March. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

CZECHS HOLD THE LINE
------ ---- --- ----
3. (SBU) Ministry of Defense Director of Defense Policy and
Strategy Ivan Dvorak wasted no time in outlining his updated
negotiating mandate from the State Security Council. In
order for the government to accept the SOFA, it must have a
clear linkage to the radar site. This includes specific
mention in the title and in the scope and purpose article.
Invoking European Commission law, Dvorak said he had no
flexibility on the new environmental language, in which the
U.S. would be required to return the radar
site to the Czechs in pristine natural condition, and that
the agreement would not pass governmental (i.e. not just
parliamentary) approval without it. Ambassador McDonald
stated that the U.S. could not accept the proposed text but
offered to participate in a bilateral meeting of
environmental experts in an attempt to craft mutually
acceptable language.

4. (SBU) The Czechs maintained their inflexibility on the
need for the U.S. to comply with Czech laws and regulations,
as opposed to the U.S. position of respecting such laws and
regulations. This basic disagreement resurfaced throughout
the draft agreement and was the focus of occasionally
difficult negotiations, e.g., on building permits and
construction procedures. While the U.S. fully intends to
respect the laws of the Czech Republic, the U.S. relies on
the international legal precedent that sovereigns do not
subordinate themselves by complying with the laws of other
sovereigns. In an attempt to overcome the Czechs' limited
experience with this principle, Ambassador McDonald offered
to provide a new construction text with commentary explaining
U.S. legal reasoning behind the use of respect versus comply.

ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK
--- ---- -------- --- ----- ----
5. (SBU) Ambassador McDonald remarked early in negotiations
that the Czech text first delivered January 23 and again
presented during the negotiations substantially changed some
articles we thought had been previously agreed, including the
entire article on environment. He also noted the substantive
change in the Czech-provided working draft of the word "by"
to "in" as it related to obtaining Czech construction
permits. Dvorak apologized for what he characterized as this
inadvertent typo, but went on to describe the importance of
this change as it related to U.S. compliance with Czech law.
Ambassador McDonald made it clear he would have to report to
Washington that negotiations had regressed since the last
round in

PRAGUE 00000074 002 OF 002


December. Dvorak was surprised by this exchange, saying
there was no regression and the new text was provided to
clarify the issues. Despite this claim, he then repeated the
Czech redline that the SOFA be specifically tied to the radar
site.

GENERAL O'REILLY WELL-RECEIVED
------- -------- -------------
6. (SBU) Missile Defense Agency Deputy Director Major General
Patrick O'Reilly gave a briefing on January 28 to an audience
of senior MFA and MoD policymakers on ballistic missile
defense execution plans and the proposed radar's integration
with a future NATO missile defense system. The General's
briefing was well-received and was the first time many
present had heard about the proposed radar's planned
integration with NATO and how it has the potential to
increase the effectiveness of existing short and medium-range
missile defense systems. Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar
raised the question of ballistic missile defense priorities
when he asked how the system would function if missiles were
heading to both Prague and Rome and only one interceptor
remained. MG O'Reilly noted the system's response depends on
the execution plan and explained in detail how execution
plans are developed, tested, and wargamed. He said that
those countries participating in the U.S. ballistic missile
defense system would have a seat at the table during the
development of the execution plans, which reassured the
Czechs.

LABOR EXPERTS WORK
----- ------- ----
7. (SBU) In parallel with the SOFA negotiations, Deputy Under
Secretary of Defense Patricia Bradshaw and a team of labor

SIPDIS
experts exchanged information with their Czech counterparts
and developed a series of non-papers of possible language for
use by the negotiating teams. This model of cooperation
worked extremely well, and both sides made significant
progress in understanding the relevant laws, positions, and
complexities involved in the SOFA labor article.

NEXT STEPS
---- -----
8. (SBU) McDonald and Dvorak agreed that many of the issues
remaining are complicated and that drafting language for some
of these issues at the table is nearly impossible. McDonald
offered, and Dvorak accepted, a series of expert meetings
using the labor discussions as a model. The parties will
work with the Embassy to schedule expert discussions on
taxes, criminal jurisdiction, and the environment before the
next round of negotiations.

9. (SBU) This cable was cleared by Ambassador McDonald.
Graber

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC