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Cablegate: Finnish Views On the March 28-29 Gymnich

VZCZCXRO7306
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #0137 0881116
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281116Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4186
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0001
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 0044

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000137

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EU FI
SUBJECT: FINNISH VIEWS ON THE MARCH 28-29 GYMNICH


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

1. (U) PolChief delivered subject demarche to Finnish MFA EU
Correspondent Leena-Kaisa Mikkola March 26. Mikkola
highlighted the following:

2. (SBU) WESTERN BALKANS: EU leadership is very concerned
about Northern Kosovo, and Mikkola said she expected a
discussion of recent developments there to dominate the
Western Balkans discussion. There is a general fear that,
given the serious challenges UNMIK is facing, KFOR is "not
enough" to ensure security at all levels and that a "power
vacuum" may be forming, she added. PM Kostunica's
nationalism may be transforming into "hardline extremism" as
regards Kosovo, and the ministers are likely to brainstorm on
how to "bring him back," she said. FM Jeremic is expected to
attend a separate GYMNICH breakfast on March 30. While this
offers the EU a good opportunity to urge restraint and to
remind Jeremic of his government's legal and moral duty NOT
to encourage violence in Mitrovica, the questions of how much
influence and how long he might remain as foreign minister
remain.

3. (SBU) SYRIA: Mikkola said that a divide is widening
between US Member States that seek more dialogue and outreach
to Syria and those who favor a strategy along the US line of
isolating the SARG. In addition, among those that favor more
engagement, there is a second smaller divide between MS that
want to expand bilateral-level contacts with the SARG and
those that prefer all or most contact to be via High Rep
Solana. Finland's national position is as yet undecided, but
Mikkola opined that while FM Ilkka Kanerva does not have
extensive experience in the Middle East, he may be leaning
toward a bit more -- albeit very cautious -- engagement.
(COMMENT: Kanerva's cautious stance is a marked contract to
that of his predecessor, Erkki Tuomioja, who was one of the
EU's strongest proponents of active engagement with Syria.)
Mikkola said she expected the informal GYMNICH discussions to
be as much a debate over strategy as a discussion of how to
address the SARG's unhelpful role in Lebanon or its
troublesome relationship with Iran.

4. (SBU) RUSSIA: Finland welcomes the progress that had been
made toward securing a mandate for negotiation of a new
EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) -- an
issue that has languished since the Finnish EU Presidency in
2006. She noted that Finland will also push for a wider
discussion of the EU-Russia relationship, in part to avoid
the discussion degenerating into a debate simply about
Lithuania's outstanding concerns in regard to the PCA.

5. (SBU) ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Many EU foreign ministries were
surprised and encouraged by recent tough statements from the
Bush Administration criticizing the expansion of Israeli
settlements in the Occupied Territories, Mikkola said. She
said that these statements may well embolden EU leaders to
make stronger statements (publicly or privately) urging
Israel to scale back.
WARE

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