Cablegate: Germany: Open to Customs Training Role for Osce In
OO RUEHBW RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHYG
DE RUEHRL #0540/01 1161639
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251639Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1051
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 000540
STATE FOR EUR/RPM - RICHARD PROSEN
USOSCE FOR DIANA BROWN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL OSCE AF GM
SUBJECT: GERMANY: OPEN TO CUSTOMS TRAINING ROLE FOR OSCE IN
AFGHANISTAN, BUT REMAIN TO BE CONVINCED
REF: STATE 39820
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Pol-mil/external chief delivered reftel
points to MFA Afghanistan desk officer Clemens Hach and OSCE
desk officer Eric Tosatti April 24, emphasizing that the U.S.
felt it was important to go forward as soon as possible in
implementing the December 2007 decision on providing OSCE
technical assistance to Afghanistan and that this assistance
should include OSCE projects within Afghanistan itself.
Drawing on reftel, pol-mil/external chief also explained in
detail the U.S. proposal for a three-phased OSCE customs
training program for Afghanistan. While not willing to
commit themselves, both Hach and Tosatti agreed that the U.S.
proposal was intriguing and deserved further consideration.
Looking for Added Value
2. (SBU) Hach noted that one of Germany's main concerns had
been that the OSCE provide real added value and not duplicate
assistance already being provided by another international
organization. He was relieved to hear that the U.S. was not
proposing that the OSCE get involved in police training,
which Germany felt was already being adequately covered by
the U.S.-led Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan
(CSTC-A) and the European Union Police Mission (EUPOL). He
noted that Ambassador Salber's assessment report had been
"full" of ideas about OSCE support for police training, which
Germany thought would be redundant with current assistance.
Clemens agreed that customs training sounded like a fruitful
area for the OSCE to provide added value. Pol-mil/external
chief pointed out that since the OSCE was already providing
this kind of training/assistance to customs officials from
Afghanistan's northern neighbors, it only made sense to
provide the same kind of training/assistance to their Afghan
Concern about an OSCE "Permanent Presence" in Afghanistan
3. (SBU) On the issue of carrying out OSCE training within
Afghanistan itself, Tosatti noted that the OSCE has never had
a permanent presence in any non-OSCE member country and that
Germany supported a continuation of this policy. He argued
that establishing a permanent OSCE presence in Afghanistan
would constitute "a huge change in the gravitational center"
of the OSCE and could have serious budgetary consequences.
4. (SBU) Pol-mil/external chief pointed out that the U.S. was
proposing that the program be funded through extra-budgetary
means and that several countries had already expressed an
interest in donating the necessary funds. This program would
not divert funds from other worthwhile OSCE programs. Hach
agreed that the relatively small of money contemplated for
the four-year customs training program (less than 30 million
Euros) should not be considered a major impediment to going
forward with this program.
5. (SBU) Pol-mil/external chief also noted that by
definition, the OSCE presence would not be "permanent," since
the proposal was for a four-year program and was based on a
train-the-trainer concept. The idea was that the Afghans
would eventually assume responsibility for running the
customs training themselves. In addition, the idea was for
the training and mentoring to be conducted near border points
along Afghanistan's northern border. If necessary to meet
concerns about security and not having a "permanent" OSCE
presence in Afghanistan, OSCE trainers and mentors involved
in the program could perhaps reside in Tajikistan and
Uzbekistan, but travel daily to their duty stations in
Worthy of Further Consideration
6. (SBU) Both Hach and Tosatti indicated that while they were
still not ready to "jump in" and support the U.S. proposal,
they found it intriguing and worth further consideration
during the upcoming stock-taking exercise (phase I of the
U.S. proposal). To ensure good coordination with other
international actors providing similar training (to the
border police, for example), Hach floated the idea of having
an OSCE liaison officer based at the International Police
Coordination Board (IPCB) in Kabul.
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7. (SBU) The Germans are basically judging the U.S. proposal
by two criteria: 1) Is the identified area for assistance a
real gap that no other organization is currently filling? and
2) Is the OSCE the right organization to fill that gap, i.e.,
does it bring real expertise and value added to the table?
If we can make a convincing case on these two key points,
then the issue of conducting this training in Afghanistan
itself, near the northern border, should be easier to manage.
The Germans acknowledge that trying to run an effective
Afghan customs training program outside the country would not
make much sense. END COMMENT.