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Cablegate: Estonia: Pm Ansip's Visit to Georgia

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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTL #0103 0711403
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111403Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0552
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 0175

UNCLAS TALLINN 000103

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EU NATO GG EN
SUBJECT: ESTONIA: PM ANSIP's VISIT TO GEORGIA

1. (U) Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip visited
Georgia February 4-6 (his first trip as Prime Minister).
Following the visit, Kyllike Sillaste Elling, the PM's
Foreign Policy Advisor, briefed interested journalists
and diplomats on highlights of the trip.

-- PM Ansip met with President Saakashvili, Speaker of
Parliament Nino Burjanadze, Prime Minister Lado
Gurgenidze, and Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili.
The PM was accompanied by a 22-person Estonian business
delegation.

-- In his meetings, PM Ansip noted that events in
November had cost Georgia a large part of its
credibility. GOG officials acknowledged mistakes and
expressed a desire to learn from them. The GOG also
recognized the need to open and support a productive
dialogue with members of the Georgian opposition in
order to develop a positive program to move Georgia
forward.

-- PM Ansip expressed strong support for Georgia's NATO
aspirations, including a NATO Membership Action Plan
(MAP) for Georgia at the Bucharest Summit. At the same
time, PM Ansip made clear NATO accession is a multi-
tiered process and will not happen quickly.

-- PM Ansip stressed that moving closer to the EU will
take time. GOG officials asked for GOE assistance
formalizing a visa facilitation process with the EU,
noting they believe the current system is discriminatory
towards Georgian citizens (in favor of Russians).

-- GOG officials also expressed concern that recognition
of Kosovo would be used as a precedent. They pointed
out that frozen conflicts (e.g. Abkhazia, South Ossetia)
are each unique and should be treated separately.
(NOTE: On March 7, the Spokesperson for the MFA
reiterated to local press that Estonia does not believe
Kosovo should be compared to frozen conflicts in the
former Soviet Union and the GOE does not plan to
recognize Abkhazia, South Ossetia or other conflict
areas. End Note.)

-- PM Ansip and his delegation also had meetings with
Georgian businesspeople where they drew attention to the
need for Georgia to orient its economy towards markets
outside of Russia. (Note: According to Estonian
statistics, during 2007, Estonians invested
approximately USD 7 million in the Georgian food
industry, primarily in nuts and wine. End Note.)

2. (U) During his visit, PM Ansip committed to sending a
media advisor to Georgia. On March 13, Ainar Ruussaar,
the former head of Estonian TV (currently with the
Baltic News Service) and Allar Joks, the former
Chancellor of Justice, will go to Georgia to share
Estonia's media reform experience with Georgian state-
owned TV executives.

3. (SBU) Although PM Ansip did not meet directly with
representatives of the opposition during his visit, on
March 10-11, Georgian opposition leaders (Levan
Gatsetsiladze, Salome Zurabisvili, David Usupasvili and
Kakha Kukava) traveled to Tallinn. They met with PM
Ansip, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, members of
Parliament, journalists and others. Simmu Tiik,
Estonian MFA Director of the Third Political Department,
told us that the GOE views the visit by Georgian
opposition leaders as an opportunity for Estonia to
illustrate what is expected of an opposition group in
the European political arena. The GOE wants the
Georgian opposition leadership to understand the rules
and methods of productive political engagement, and how
opposition groups can become a network of checks and
balances for a sitting administration.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOE remains committed to promoting
democracy at EUR's frontiers of freedom. Prime Minister
Ansip's visit represents ongoing GOE's efforts to
promote reform in Georgia and to support Georgian
efforts toward NATO and EU Membership. In addition to
high-level political support, Georgia is a priority
recipient of Estonian development assistance. In 2007,
Estonia's official development assistance to Georgia
more than doubled (from about USD 456,000 to USD 1.04
million.) End Comment.

PHILLIPS

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