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Cablegate: Finland: Stubb Raises Georgia and Us Missile

VZCZCXRO1937
PP RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHHE #0186/01 1211228
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301228Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4266
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0072

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HELSINKI 000186

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM FI RU
SUBJECT: FINLAND: STUBB RAISES GEORGIA AND US MISSILE
DEFENSE WITH RUSSIAN FM LAVROV

REF: STATE 40673

Classified By: PolChief Greg Thome, Reasons 1.4 b,d.

1. (C) SUMMARY: Finnish FM Stubb and Russian FM held
their first official meeting April 25. Their lengthy
discussions focused on bilateral issues, the EU-Russia
relationship, and the OSCE. Stubb raised UAV incident in
Georgia and the Russian Presidential Instructions on
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, urging Moscow to seek a more
constructive dialogue with Tblisi. On EU matters, Lavrov
suggested that Brussels needed to improve its dialogue
with Russia, including on the CFE and US Missile Defense
(MD). Stubb responded by noting that ratification of the
Lisbon Treaty should -- in general terms -- improve the
EU's ability to discuss security matters with one voice,
but he made clear to Lavrov that the EU was not an
appropriate interlocutor for Russia on MD. The
ministers' meeting also focused heavily on economic
issues, including the proposed Nordstream gas pipeline as
well as an ongoing dispute over Russian export tariffs on
timber which have had a devastating impact on the Finnish
forestry industry. Both sides were clearly interested in
keeping the tone productive and amiable. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Newly named Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander
Stubb traveled to Moscow for his first bilateral with
Russian FM Sergei Lavrov April 25. Moscow and Helsinki
both place great emphasis on maintaining healthy avenues
of communication; as such, the Finns sent a large
delegation with Stubb (including two Directors General
and their Special OSCE Envoy), and the Russians set aside
nearly three hours for what proved to be warm and wide-
ranging discussions. On April 28, MFA Russia Unit Deputy
Director Antti Vanska and MFA Deskoff for Georgia Paivi
Pihlajamaki provided Poloffs the following read-out.

Georgia: Finns Raise Concerns about Russian Provocations
--------------------------------------------- -----------
3. (C) Despite the generally amiable tone of the
meetings, Vanska and Pihlajamaki noted that Stubb did not
shy away from raising recent Russian actions toward
Georgia. Speaking for his own government and for the
Finnish OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office (CiO), Stubb
expressed concern about the shootdown of a Georgian UAV
and Putin's 'Presidential Instructions' regarding
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Stubb urged Moscow to
communicate more openly with Tblisi; to do what it could
to lower the temperature surrounding the UAV in
particular; and to find ways of playing a constructive
role in Abkhazia and South Ossetia without threatening
Georgian sovereignty. Stubb noted that the OSCE would be
a proper forum for a broad airing of the UAV shootdown,
and reassured Lavrov that the Finnish CiO would endeavor
to 'channel' that discussion in order to ensure that it
remained productive. Lavrov offered no substantive
response regarding either the Presidential Instructions
or the UAV, aside from suggesting obliquely that the OSCE
needed to find 'more serious' mechanisms for addressing
security issues. He confirmed that President Putin had
finally taken a call from President Shakasvili, and that
Moscow did not oppose 'productive' discussions of Georgia
in the OSCE. (Comment: At this point, Vanska and
Pihlajamaki editorialized that, while the OSCE
discussions on Russia and Georgia are necessary, they are
unlikely to produce major progress.) Lavrov also noted to
Stubb that he had discussed Georgia with Secretary Rice.

4. (C) Regarding other OSCE issues, Lavrov offered
several of the frequently-heard Russian complaints about
various OSCE institutions, and he alleged that the US is
'imposing' (no further elaboration) its view of the OSCE
Charter on other member states. Lavrov criticized OSCE
rules governing NGOs' participation, saying that it
should adopt the UN's model. He also expressed 'his
usual concerns' about ODHIR, Vanska said. Stubb
responded that the OSCE's 1992 document regarding NGOs
remains adequate, in Finland's view; that the OSCE's
institutions need strengthening, not weakening; and that
the Finns remain fully supportive of ODHIR. Stubb did
not respond to Lavrov's vague complaint about the US and
the OSCE Charter, Vanska added.

An EU Expert on the EU-Russia Relationship
------------------------------------------
5. (C) Given Stubb's deep expertise and experience with
the EU, the ministers were enthusiastic about exploring
ways to strengthen the EU-Russia relationship. Stubb
noted the EU's internal negotiating framework for a new
EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA),
which has been repeatedly held up by various EU member

HELSINKI 00000186 002 OF 002


states for nearly two years. Lavrov welcomed this
development, and thanked the Finns for their leadership
on the PCA, which dates back to their 2006 EU Presidency.
Lavrov also expressed satisfaction with Finnish
leadership within the EU's Northern Dimension program and
praised EU-Russia cooperation under that mechanism.
Stubb and Lavrov shared concerns about Baltic Sea health,
and both expected good new regional initiatives to emerge
next year, given Stockholm's stated interest in making
the Baltic a focus of its 2009 EU Presidency. Lavrov
also raised the issue of EU-Russia crisis management (CM)
cooperation; he and Stubb agreed that Chad might be a
good place to begin exploring this possibility, Vanska
reported.

EU Not/Not the Forum for Missile Defense
----------------------------------------
6. (C) Lavrov referred specifically to the US Missile
Defense (MD) initiative and the CFE treaty by stating
that the EU needed to improve its capacity to discuss
security issues such as these with Russia bilaterally.
Stubb agreed -- in very general terms -- on the need for
a more unified EU voice on all foreign and security
policy issues, holding out the hope that eventual
ratification of the Lisbon Treaty would make this easier.
However, Vanska emphasized, Stubb was speaking generally,
and not about the specific issues of CFE or MD; Stubb
made clear that MD is not an EU issue, but rather one
that Russia must handle bilaterally with the US and with
the two EU member that are directly involved.

Economic Issues
---------------
7. (C) Stubb and Lavrov also discussed several
outstanding works-in-progress, including Russia's effort
to slap WTO-inconsistent tariffs on wood exports to
Finland; the need to facilitate commerce and shipping at
the borders; and the facilitation of work visas,
especially for Finns seeking to invest in Russia. Lavrov
also raised Nordstream's proposed gas pipeline from
Russia to Germany, urging the GoF not to allow the matter
to become 'politicized' in Finland, as he alleged it has
in Estonia and elsewhere. Stubb reiterated that the
GoF's general support for the concept of the pipeline has
not become a political issue in Finland.

Comment
-------
8. (C) No EU country works harder than Finland at
maintaining a productive and amiable bilateral
relationship with Russia, and Stubb's first trip to
Moscow as FM was no exception to that standard practice.
However, we are pleased that Stubb did not shy away from
raising potentially divisive issues such as Georgia, and
that he was clearly willing to push back against the
usual Russian grumbling about issues such as MD, ODHIR
and the OSCE's other institutions.
HYATT

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