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Cablegate: Finland On Belarus

VZCZCXRO2119
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHHE #0151 0941127
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031127Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4210
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000151

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2015
TAGS: BO EU PHUM PREL FI
SUBJECT: FINLAND ON BELARUS

REF: STATE 30007

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

1. (C) PolChief delivered subject demarche to Tuula
Yrjola, Director of the Office for Eastern Europe and
Central Asia April 1. The GoF has made strengthening
democracy and urging reform in Belarus the rest of
this region a focus of its OSCE Chairmanship-in-
Office, so Yrjola appreciated the detailed background
on developments in Minsk. The recent turn of events
has been very discouraging for the EU, for many OSCE
Member States (MS), and for the GoF. Finland had been
actively supporting efforts to improve the EU-Belarus
dialogue, and up until about the turn of the year
there was a sense that real progress was being made,
Yrjola said. The EU and the GOF were particularly
encouraged by the release of several political
prisoners and the agreement regarding the opening of
an EU Commission office in Minsk -- a step that is
especially crucial to EU MS like Finland that do not
have Embassies on the ground. EU and GoF leaders
remained guarded in their optimism, but there was a
growing sense that the "reaching out" the EU had done
was being reciprocated, at least via small steps.

2. (C) For these reasons, the GoF is particularly
frustrated about many recent developments; the violent
May 26 crackdown on demonstrators and the unwarranted
diplomatic pressure against the US Embassy represent a
turn in the wrong direction and are likely to
undermine the small bits of progress and confidence
building that had occurred in previous months, Yrjola
said. She fully shared the US view that a unified
trans-Atlantic approach on Belarus is crucial, and
very close coordination will only become more vital as
Belarus moves toward Parliamentary elections in the
fall. While the GoF in no way condones the Lukashenka
regime's egregious overreaction to the US Treasury
Department action in November to freeze the assets of
Belneftekhim, Yrjola did suggest that closer US-EU
coordination on that issue might have helped the EU
better prepare for Lukashenka's latest round of
stunts.
HYATT

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