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Cablegate: Changing European Union Attitudes Toward Iraq

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O 201800Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7464
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001565

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECIN ETRD PREL EU IZ
SUBJECT: CHANGING EUROPEAN UNION ATTITUDES TOWARD IRAQ

Changing Attitude
------------------

1. (SBU) During a May 6 presentation to the Defense Attache
Association in Iraq (DAAI), the Ambassador of the European
Commission to Iraq, Ilkka Uusitalo, noted a rapidly changing
view within the EU towards Iraq. Admitting that the EU has
been strongly divided since 2003, Uusitalo emphasized that
"the EU now sees a requirement to actively participate in the
stabilization of Iraq." He cited two key events in the past
year which contributed to this positive political atmosphere:
the visit to Baghdad by French Foreign Minister Kouchner in
August 2007 and the recent visit of Prime Minister Maliki to
Brussels in April. The success of the Maliki visit, he added,
prompted Secretary General Solana to agree to a reciprocal
visit to Iraq in the near future.

Expanding Trade
---------------

2. (SBU) Recounting the historic ties between Europe and
Iraq, Uusitilo noted Iraq and the EU were about to begin the
fifth round of negotiations on a Trade Framework Agreement in
Brussels on June 18 - 20. He maintained the agreement would
be signed by the end of the year. On energy, he noted the EU
is also negotiating a formal agreement with the GOI on
natural gas, with the stated intent of diversifying European
energy sources. As part of these processes, he said the EU
would continue to assist the Iraqi Government in their
development of trade structures meeting international
standards towards a goal of Iraq's eventual entry into the
World Trade Organization.

Expanding Assistance
--------------------

3. (SBU) Turning to EU assistance to the GOI, Uusitalo
estimated economic grant assistance from 2003 to 2008 at
about 829 Million Euros (1.2 Billion dollars). He noted that
most of these grants were administered through United Nations
and World Bank programs primarily to support health and
educational services, and in support of democratic political
processes like elections and constitutional reform. Included
in this figure were over 600 Million Euros for the
International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI)
and over 100 Million Euros for humanitarian assistance.
Additionally, Uusitalo handed out a brochure which estimates
the total EU assistance (European Community and Member
States) since 2003 at 14,000 Million Euros, including grants,
debt relief, and loans. The brochure also highlights the role
of the EU as a co-chair of the International Compact with
Iraq and notes an annual contribution of almost 60 million
Euros to the Compact Secretariat and teh
agriculture/environment, education, governance, health, and
infrastructure sectors. (Note: There are more details about
EU assistance efforts in Iraq on their local web site:
http://delirq.ec.europa.eu. End Note.).

Expanding Baghdad Presence
--------------------------

4. (SBU) Regarding expansion of its presence in Baghdad,
Ambassador Uusitilo recalled the EU had virtually no
representation in Iraq between 2003 and 2005, except for aid
distribution and liaison organizations. In December 2005,
however, the EU made the decision to establish a small
diplomatic office within the UK embassy compound. Although
currently manned at only five people including an Ambassador,
First Secretary, and Commercial Attache (with the remaining
staff in Amman), Uusitalo said he intended to consolidate all
staff operations in Baghdad, but he gave no timeline.
Ambassador Uusitalo outlined his Mission's current
responsibilities as political reporting, economic/trade
development, and aid distribution primarily in health and
educational areas. He said that his future Baghdad staff will
include experts in energy policy, human rights, World Trade
Organization (WTO), and scientific/technical cooperation.


5. (SBU) COMMENT: Although Ambassador Uusitalo's
presentation was bereft of detail, the overall message to the
local Defense Attache community was clear: the European Union
intends increase its presence in Iraq and to adopt a more
pragmatic and positive approach towards the GOI. Part of its

BAGHDAD 00001565 002 OF 002


increasing presence in Baghdad is clearly influenced by the
improving security environment, but it also represents
progress by the GOI in re-integrating itself into the
international community. END COMMENT.
CROCKER

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