Search

 

Cablegate: Cancelled Nato Exercise Stirs Political Row

VZCZCXRO1110
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBW RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTH #0721/01 1431600
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221600Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1862
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000721

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS TU GR
SUBJECT: CANCELLED NATO EXERCISE STIRS POLITICAL ROW

REF: ATHENS 678

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The Government and opposition sparred over NATO's
withdrawal of support to Noble Archer (ref), which the
opposition claimed had led to the "indirect questioning" of
Greek sovereignty over the island of Aghios Efstratios. In
Parliament, Minister of Defense Meimarakis dismissed
opposition charges and stuck to the public line that the
"Noble Archer" exercise had simply been postponed because
aircraft were unavailable; he also reportedly hinted at MFA
culpability for the failed exercise. Main opposition party
PASOK blasted the government for not having obtained NATO
guarantees for the exercise to go forward. PASOK has
further attacked the government over a "lack of policy"
vis-a-vis Turkey and for tolerating Turkish "provocations"
in the Aegean and elsewhere. End Summary.

---------------------------------
Minister of Defense in Parliament
---------------------------------

2. (U) NATO's withdrawal of support for "Noble Archer"
became the central issue of a May 21 briefing of the
parliamentary committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs by
Defense Minister Meimarakis. Meimarakis said Greece had
been surprised by the decision as the Ministry of Defense
had previously received "pledges" from the Alliance that
the exercise would proceed. He told the committee he did
not know what exactly led to the NATO decision but added
that the events will be "investigated." Senior PASOK
member, and party defense spokesperson, Vasso Papandreou
retorted that the GoG had "completely botched" the affair
and suggested that "the information conduit that should
have kept (the GoG) informed is broken." Her initial
reaction, captured yesterday on prime-time TV, was that the
government's "excuse" was "sad and dangerous."

3. (SBU) Several media commentaries have suggested that
Meimarakis' claim was a lightly veiled suggestion that the
MFA should be held accountable for the failed exercise, as
the MOD had received assurances from NATO military
authorities that the exercise would go forward. There are
also varying media reports that MFA officials then
responded on background that the MOD did not adequately
coordinate with the MFA on the exercise, but rather
"rushed" to carry out the exercise without understanding
"the whole picture." Some have described the MFA as at odds
with Meimarakis and "dissatisfied" over the MoD handling of
the affair. Meimarakis himself has affirmed to reporters
that the MoD cooperates well with the MFA and that there is
"no issue" in the relations between the two ministries.
Some well-placed journalists also tell us that FM
Bakoyiannis has tried, privately and through her spokesman,
to do the same.

--------------------
Opposition Criticism
--------------------

4. (U) Outside parliament, PASOK continued to attack the
Karamanlis administration, with the party diplomatic
spokesperson Andreas Loverdos accusing the GoG of "being
lax" vis-a-vis Turkish demands in the Aegean that had now
led to indirect questioning about Greek sovereignty over
the island Aghios Efstratios. In fact, Loverdos said,
"many things in Turkey are changing," and, thus, Greece's
posture in Greek-Turkish relations "should be changing" as
well. The GoG, Loverdos added, has no policy on Turkey and
as a result it had "to swallow Aghios Stratis" and suffer
through "constant Turkish provocations" without an
effective response.

5. (SBU) Comment: It is not surprising that the
opposition has added the cancelled NATO exercise to its
list of criticisms of the government. What we have been
surprised by is the debate itself -- the debate has largely
steered clear of the U.S. role in the NATO decision to
withdraw support for the exercise. Our prompt public
statement reaffirming the "Hellenicity" of the island seems
to have helped limit the typically anti-American
commentary. Meanwhile, the government has affirmed its
ongoing intent to improve relations with Turkey in the face
of real concern about the political sitution there, making
clear that this current dut-up will not impede the pending
visit to Turkey by CHOD General Grapsas.

ATHENS 00000721 002 OF 002

Speckhard

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC