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Cablegate: Approaching the Eu in Advance of the March 28-29

VZCZCXRO3208
OO RUEHAG RUEHBW RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV
DE RUEHC #0504/01 0850113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 250106Z MAR 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 8401
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 0342
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0327
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 4761
RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA 1018
RUEHPOD/AMEMBASSY PODGORICA 0914
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 3872
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1096
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8866
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 9093
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 3507
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 2252
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 8082
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 4854

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 STATE 030504

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM EUN ZL IS SY LE RS CH
SUBJECT: APPROACHING THE EU IN ADVANCE OF THE MARCH 28-29
FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING (GYMNICH)

REF: N/A

1. (U) This is an action request. See paragraph 7.

2. (SBU) Summary: EU Foreign Ministers will hold an
informal meeting (GYMNICH) in Ljubljana on March 28-29.
We expect the agenda to include: Western Balkans
(Serbia/Kosovo), Israeli-Palestinian peace process,
Lebanon-Syria, China/Tibet, and Russia-EU relations.
Posts are requested to include the SIPDIS caption on their
response cables. A background section covering some of
these issues is provided prior to a section containing
talking points. Points are to be delivered as soon as
possible at the appropriate level to EU members only.
Other posts should not/not deliver these points.

BACKGROUND
----------

WESTERN BALKANS

3. (SBU) Despite efforts of Serb hardliners to provoke
violence and protests, especially in Mitrovica earlier
this week, we assess the overall situation in Kosovo as
reasonably stable and positive. Both the Government of
Kosovo and the Kosovo Albanian majority have exercised
admirable restraint so far. As of March 21, thirty-six
countries have recognized or announced an intent to
recognize Kosovo, including twenty EU Member States. The
initial meeting of the International Steering Group (ISG)
took place in Vienna on February 28; twelve EU countries,
along with the U.S., Switzerland and Turkey, attended and
appointed Pieter Feith to be Kosovo's first International
Civilian Representative (ICR). DOS received authorization
in mid-March to begin work on a Participation Agreement
with the EU for the USG role in the EULEX Kosovo rule of
law mission; while preliminary negotiations have already
begun, a formal team is scheduled to travel to Brussels at
the end of this month. In regard to Macedonia, Greece has
threatened to veto its NATO invitation because of the name
issue. A veto of Macedonia's NATO invitation would be a
significant blow our shared goal of accelerating the
Balkans' Euro-Atlantic integration and would increase
regional instability. While we object to this threat of a
veto, we are working with both sides to urge a solution.

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE

4. (SBU) The Secretary's recent trip resulted in the
resumption of negotiations. Secretary Rice has made
clear, both privately and publicly, that we must ensure
continuous progress in Israeli-Palestinians political
negotiations on core issues even in the face of unhelpful
developments. At the same time, it is crucial that we
begin to see some progress on the ground both in terms of
capacity building, and action by the parties to address
their commitments under the Roadmap. Our goals remain
Israeli-Palestinian Roadmap implementation, Palestinian
capacity building (the mission of Quartet Representative

Blair and LTG Dayton's Security Sector Reform), Arab
outreach to Israel and support for this process, and
progress on political talks between Abbas and Olmert and
their negotiating teams. We continue to encourage expanded
budgetary support for the PA, especially by Arab states.
The next AHLC meeting on May 2 in the UK will provide a
good opportunity to push donors to meet and expand their
budgetary support to the PA.

SYRIA/LEBANON

5. (SBU) We encourage our European partners to join us in
providing meaningful support for the Siniora government,
including unified international pressure on Syria and the

STATE 00030504 002 OF 005


opposition to allow an immediate and unconditional
presidential election, funding to support Lebanese
security services and mitigate Lebanese debt problems, and
high-level visits and statements of support. We also urge
additional EU financial support for the UN Special
Tribunal on Lebanon, which will help end the era of
impunity for political assassinations and deter further
violence. We discourage post-Annapolis engagement of
Syria and urge High Representative Solana to serve as the
sole point-of-contact between Damascus and EU Member
States. France has supported Solana as the designated EU
interlocutor with Syria for some time now, and German
Chancellor Merkel stated publicly on March 14 that Germany
should pursue a policy of isolation towards Syria and that
only Solana should talk to the Syrian government.

6. (SBU) Syrian government actions have been increasingly
detrimental to the peace process, best demonstrated by the
January 23-25 "anti-Annapolis" conference hosted by
Damascus-based rejectionist groups and facilitated by the
Syrian government. Two Syrian government ministers
attended the conference even while Dutch FM Verhagen
visited Damascus. Isolation-not engagement-is the best
way to improve Syrian behavior. We also need our European
partners to visibly maintain their support for the March
14 movement that led the Cedar Revolution in 2005 and
brought PM Siniora to power.

7. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: Please deliver the following
points to the appropriate MFA official(s) as soon as
possible (in advance of March 28-29 Gymnich).

BEGIN NON-PAPER TEXT

WESTERN BALKANS

--Despite the efforts of Serb hardliners to provoke
violence and protests, we assess the overall situation in
Kosovo as generally stable and positive. Neither the
Kosovo government nor the Albanian majority has responded
to the provocations; their restraint so far has been
admirable.

--We emphasize, however, the vital importance of
supporting UNMIK and its efforts to uphold law and order,
as well as KFOR support to UNMIK throughout Kosovo. We
need continued EU support in pressing both the UN and
UNMIK to respond in the appropriate way to Serbian
provocations. We need to make sure that we do not get
lured into an unwinnable and unproductive fight; our aim
is to ensure control of the border and maintain an
appropriate international community presence in Northern
Kosovo. With UNSCR 1244 remaining in effect, UNMIK still
has important responsibilities. We should insist that the
people inciting violence be held fully accountable and
guard against efforts to push the partition of northern
Kosovo through the establishment of a de facto Kosovo-Serb
"entity." KFOR is responding appropriately and
coordinating well with UNMIK police. We fully support and
commend the successful UNMIK/KFOR operation on March 17 to
retake a UN courthouse that Kosovo Serb thugs had
illegally occupied.

--We should continue to urge Belgrade to use its influence
to rein in troublemakers and insist that Serb officials
speak clearly in rejecting all violence. The Serbian May
11 elections will likely create additional tensions and
flash points. UNMIK needs to be judicious in providing
security and limiting Serb provocations and avoid
promoting Radical extremists. We need to encourage
reformist democratic forces in Kosovo and Serbia that are
looking for a way to move past this issue.

--We welcome the recognitions and declarations of intent
to recognize by an overwhelming majority of EU member
states (Note: As of March 21, eighteen EU member states
have officially recognized Kosovo and two more have
declared their intent to do so. End note.) We look
forward to additional recognitions very soon.

STATE 00030504 003 OF 005


--(Special point for Prague, Vilnius, Lisbon, Athens and
Valletta only:) What is the current status of the Kosovo
recognition debate? When can we expect your government to
join us and the overwhelming EU majority in recognizing
Kosovo's independence? Your government's recognition
remains extremely important in fully welcoming Kosovo into
the international community of nations.

--(Special point for Madrid only:) In the wake of the
March 9 elections, what is the current status of the
Kosovo recognition debate? Can we expect Madrid to join
us and the overwhelming EU majority in recognizing
Kosovo's independence?

--We also welcome the participation of many EU member
states in the creation of the International Steering Group
(ISG) last month and the naming of Pieter Feith, the EU
Special Representative for Kosovo, as the International
Civilian Representative for Kosovo. The ISG's initial
meeting was held on February 28 in Vienna -- other
countries may join provided they meet the criteria of
having recognized Kosovo and having contributed resources
to Kosovo's development. We would be glad to provide any
follow-up information on the work of the ISG and the role
of its participating members.

--The U.S. remains committed to participating in the EULEX
Kosovo mission. We recently received authorization to
begin work on a Participation Agreement with the EU and
have already started preliminary negotiations. We expect
to send a team to Brussels for formal talks the week of
March 24. We had excellent discussions in Washington
recently with EULEX Head of Mission Yves de Kermabon and
EU Planning Team Head Roy Reeve. We must acknowledge
frankly that EULEX will face serious challenges in
establishing a presence throughout Kosovo, especially in
the north.

--While there will surely be challenges ahead, our
assessment is that long-term stability and development in
region will best be achieved through full implementation
of UN Special Envoy Ahtisaari's recommendations. We look
forward to working with the EU, World Bank, IMF, and other
potential donors to assist Kosovo both in the post-
independence transition and longer-term.

-- Macedonia: Greece has threatened to veto a NATO
invitation for Macedonia because of the name issue. A
veto of Macedonia's NATO invitation would be a significant
blow our shared goal of accelerating the Balkans' Euro-
Atlantic integration and would increase regional
instability.

-- While we object to this veto threat, we are working
with both sides to urge a solution and have urged creative
and flexible approaches.

SYRIA/LEBANON

--We urge European states to assist in strengthening
Lebanon's institutions, including the parliament, cabinet,
and military, through statements of support for their
legitimacy and continued financial assistance. The
Lebanese opposition, with support from Syria and Iran, is
trying to erode Lebanon's constitutional institutions,
thereby undermining Lebanese sovereignty and allowing the
reassertion of Syrian influence.

--We urge continued vocal support for the Arab League
initiative. There are reports that Syria is has abandoned
the initiative and is circulating another proposal.
European states should make it clear that no other deal is
on the table, continue calls for immediate presidential
elections, and maintain outreach and public support for
the governing March 14 coalition.

--We ask the EU and its Member States to press Syria to
stop blocking Lebanese elections and allow the Lebanese to

STATE 00030504 004 OF 005


find a solution to the current political impasse.
Elections must be allowed to occur immediately and without
pre-condition.

--We urge European states to press for full Syrian
compliance with pertinent UN Security Council resolutions.
Syria must end its direct support for militant groups in
Lebanon, enforce the UNSCR 1701 arms embargo, and answer
Lebanon's calls to demarcate their common border.

--We discourage engagement with the al-Asad regime.
Recent visits between European and Syrian officials have
only emboldened the Syrian government (SARG). Since
Syria's participation in Annapolis, it has received
multiple European ministers in Damascus, and Syrian
officials have been received in Europe. And yet, Syrian
interference in Lebanon, support for Hizballah, and
facilitation of foreign fighters to Iraq continues apace,
while repression of Syrian democracy activists at home has
increased. As Chancellor Merkel stated in a March 14
interview, High Representative Solana should serve as the
sole EU interlocutor with the Syrian government.

CHINA: SITUATION IN TIBET

--We hope your government will help us to reinforce
Secretary Rice's call for China to exercise restraint and

SIPDIS
to respect the fundamental right of all citizens to
peacefully express their views. We have urged Chinese
authorities to show leniency to protesters who express
their views peacefully, and all sides should refrain from
violence.

--As President Bush has stated many times, we call on
China to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai
Lama directly and through his representatives to resolve
long-standing issues with regard to Tibet.

--The Chinese government continues to deny us permission
to send an official from our Embassy in Beijing to Lhasa
and other affected areas to assess the situation. We
encourage you to reinforce our message by pressing the
Chinese government for international access to Lhasa and
other affected areas.

--(IF ASKED Talking Points on the 2008 Beijing Olympics:)
The USG wants to see a successful Olympics and does not
support calls for an Olympics boycott. However, we
continue to urge China to live up to its Olympics bid

commitments to increase access to information and expand
freedom of the press, including in Tibetan areas, as well
as to take steps to address its record on human rights and
religious freedom.

--(IF ASKED Talking Points on the 2008 Beijing Olympics:)
We are deeply concerned about the lack of reliable
information from Tibetan areas and the restrictions being
imposed on foreign journalists and international
observers. The Chinese government appears to be
deliberately obstructing the flow of information into and
out of Tibetan areas and restricting the coverage of these
events in China. Such restrictions run counter to China's
promise to open China to the world and to allow foreign
reporters greater freedoms to report in all parts of China
before and during the 2008 Olympic Games.

EU-RUSSIA RELATIONS

--Secretaries Rice and Gates' March 17-18 "2 plus 2" talks
in Moscow with their Russian counterparts yielded
substantial progress on the development of a U.S.-Russia
Strategic Framework to find common ground and put our
security, political and economic relations on a positive
track. While we made significant progress in many areas
of discussion, we will need to continue working to close
the gaps in those areas where disagreement remains.

--As the EU considers the launch of negotiations on a new

STATE 00030504 005 OF 005


Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Russia later
this year, it is only natural to reflect upon where
relations presently stand and where they should be
heading. With Dmitry Medvedev also poised to assume the
Russian presidency in May, this would be an appropriate
time for all of us to "take stock" of current developments
in our relations with Moscow.

--As the recent 2 plus 2 talks showed, the US and EU must
have a common voice when speaking to Russia about European
missile defense (MD). We should continue to pursue a
cooperative approach with Russia on missile defense, if at
all possible, and work to overcome Russian concerns to
make clear that MD assets in Europe do not threaten
Russian security.

--Russia's resumption of its Conventional Armed Forces in
Europe (CFE) Treaty implementation is essential to
European security. The U.S. and NATO Allies continue to
consult with Russia on a possible resolution to the
current impasse based on the US-conceived Parallel Actions
plan. Russia's "suspension" of its CFE commitments,
however, has made it harder to find any solutions.

--We should encourage continued Russian cooperation in
preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program.
The international community must stand firm on the need
for Iran to comply with its UNSC obligations and to
restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of
its nuclear program. Russian arms sales to countries of
concern like Iran seriously undermine regional stability
and risk escalation of ongoing conflicts.

--We both need to urge Russia to cooperate constructively
in the Balkans to ensure peace and stability during
Kosovo's transition to independence. We should work with
Russia to promote Serbia's democratic development and
ensure that Kosovo's Serbs are adequately protected while
also pressing Moscow to refrain from any tacit support or
encouragement of extremism in the region.

--We remain very concerned over human rights and
democratic backsliding in Russia. We are troubled by the
growing centralization of power, the flawed Duma elections
last December, the heavy-handed orchestration of the
presidential succession, Russian efforts to weaken the
OSCE, and increasing restrictions on civil society and the
media in Russia. We note that in a recent speech in
Krasnoyarsk, Medvedev named personal freedoms and the rule
of law as the necessary foundations of a future modern
Russia. We support this reformist agenda, in particular
the development of a robust, pluralistic civil society and
free press.

--A common external policy on diversity of energy supply
is essential for EU energy security. Recently, several EU
member states have reached bilateral deals with Gazprom;
this prevents the EU from presenting a united front on
energy policy and does not enhance diversity of energy
supply. The EU should work together to ensure Gazprom
operates in a transparent manner and does not use its

market power to exclude competitors. Russia will always
be one of Europe's main suppliers of energy, but Europe
must deal with Russia on equal footing.

END NON-PAPER TEXT
RICE

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