Cablegate: Fsc May 28 - Georgia Invokes Vd99 Chapter Iii Over
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SUBJECT: FSC MAY 28 - GEORGIA INVOKES VD99 CHAPTER III OVER
APRIL 20 UAV INCIDENT
REF: STATE 056557
1. (SBU) Summary: Georgia announced in the May 28 Forum for
Security Cooperation it would invoke the Vienna Document
Chapter III risk reduction mechanism to call on Russia to
explain its actions as described in the recently released
UNOMIG investigation of the April 20 UAV incident. Russia
rejoined that this seemed an unproven and "top-heavy"
approach as it could involve the entire Permanent Council and
the FSC. Although Russia was prepared to meet with Georgia
at any time, it would go along with the Chapter III request.
The U.S. and UK endorsed Georgia's approach. The EU
"supported" the UNOMIG investigation, but did not comment on
the Chapter III request.
2. (SBU) The Forum adopted the decision updating the OSCE
MANPADS principles to accord with recent Wassenaar
Arrangement changes. The U.S. proposed changes to the draft
decision on the publication of the Best Practice Guides on
Conventional Ammunition; several delegations asked the U.S.
to reconsider its position. The working group endorsed the
latest version of the Russian proposal for a chair's
statement calling for stricter compliance with the timelines
for requesting Vienna Document inspections. There is at
present no emerging consensus on the Russian proposals, on
defining "specified area" and to provide prior notification
of major military activities, meant to "enhance"
implementation of the Vienna Document. End summary.
Georgia Will Invoke Chapter III, VD99
3. (SBU) After announcing that the UNOMIG report of
investigation into the April 20 UAV incident had been
released, Georgia announced that Georgia would invoke the
Chapter III, Vienna Document 1999 mechanism for "consultation
and cooperation as regards unusual military activities."
Georgia noted that the UNOMIG report corroborated the
authenticity of the evidence it provided, in particular the
video tape shot by the camera on the ill-fated drone and the
Georgian air traffic control radar plots. Georgia also
highlighted that UNOMIG had described the Russian actions in
Abkhazia as inconsistent with the 1994 Moscow Agreement.
Russia Sees No Need for Chapter III
4. (SBU) Russia (Ulyanov) replied that there was only
"scanty" experience with Chapter III, explaining that it had
been invoked twice before: in 1991 during the Yugoslav crises
and again in 1999, when Belarus questioned NATO bombing in
Yugoslavia. The standard for invoking Chapter III should be
the "military significance" of the events in question.
Ulyanov questioned the need for a "top-heavy" approach like
Chapter III when "we can meet bilaterally, even after today's
(FSC) meeting, if you like."
5. (SBU) Nonetheless, he added, Russia recognized Georgia's
right to invoke, without consensus, the Chapter III
mechanism. Ulyanov said Russia might, in turn, also invoke
Chapter III, which is based on the principle of "escalating
discussions." Let's see how it goes, he concluded.
Tepid EU Response
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6. (SBU) Slovenia, as EU president, announced it supported
the UNOMIG investigation but did not comment on the contents
of the UNOMIG report or Georgia's decision to invoke Chapter
U.S. Supports Invocation of Chapter III
7. (SBU) The U.S. (Neighbour) said it remained concerned
about Russia's provocative steps in Abkhazia and welcomed
Georgia's invocation of Chapter III. Neighbour said the U.S.
also supported direct talks by Georgian and Abkhaz leaders to
develop a peace initiative. He called for complete
transparency by the sides to ease tensions. The U.S.
strongly supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty
8. (SBU) Neighbour said the UNOMIG report confirmed the
findings of the U.S. experts who investigated the April 20
UAV incident. He invited Russia to share any corrections to
information it had earlier provided to the FSC on the
incident and again asked Russia to explain how its recent
actions in the region were consistent with its role as
peacekeeper rather than a party to the conflict. Neighbour
noted that UNOMIG had concluded that there had been no
large-scale Georgian deployments into the upper Kodori
valley. He said that the UNOMIG report offered further
evidence of Russian failure to respect the territorial
integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. He called on Russia to
withdraw airborne forces and artillery recently deployed in
9. (SBU) Neighbour commended Georgian restraint and called on
all parties to support direct talks and for an OSCE role in
helping Georgia and Abkhazia resolve their differences and
find a way forward to a lasting peace.
10. (SBU) The UK (Cliff) praised the UNOMIG report and
described Georgia's decision to invoke Chapter III as a
measured way forward. It was time, he said, for the OSCE to
"reinvigorate itself" in the use of this mechanism. Events
in Abkhazia constituted the "unusual military activities"
that would trigger Chapter III; they were not just a
bilateral issue, but of concern to the entire OSCE. The UK
supported the territorial integrity of Georgia, while Russia,
according to the UNOMIG report, had failed to do so. The UK
called for continued dialogue between Georgia and Abkhazia
and pledges its support to all parties in their quest for
11. (SBU) Latvia also supported the Georgian decision to
invoke Chapter III.
Russia Brings Up Kosovo and U.S. Belgrade Bombing
12. (SBU) Ulyanov said UK remarks about tensions in the
Georgian-Russian relationship were based on a false premise.
The real conflict is between Georgia and Abkhazia. Turning
to the U.S., Ulyanov said it was hard to swallow U.S.
references to "provocative Russian acts" given the U.S.
support to the Kosovo Albanians. The U.S. had bombed
Belgrade, killing journalists and destroying the Chinese
embassy. Despite these acts, the U.S. then provided
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peacekeeping forces in Kosovo and had recently recognized
Kosovo's independence. It was clear that the U.S. had a
"sorry past" that Russia had never duplicated. Ulyanov
categorically rejected the U.S. arguments.
13. (SBU) Ulyanov noted the UNOMIG report supported his
contention that Georgia often blamed other for problems it
had caused. The UAV over-flights were described by UNOMIG as
"military activities" inconsistent with the Moscow Agreement.
The UAV over-flight of Abkhazia was the cause of the April
20 incident. Georgia even increased the frequency of its
over-flights after April 20. As a result, Abkhaz air defense
forces had shot down seven Georgian UAVs, of which three were
confirmed by the UN as destroyed. He again denied that
Russia had shot down the UAV on April 20.
14. (SBU) The U.S. replied to Russia that the subject in the
FSC was Georgia, which earlier had welcomed Russia's
willingness to engage in dialogue, not Kosovo nine years ago.
Neighbour said delegations should consider the history,
geography, and relative size of the parties in the Abkhaz
conflict. Russia, he said, has warned Georgia it reserves
the use of military force: why wouldn't Georgia be worried.
Neighbour added that Russia's own January 2008 Vienna
Document submission corroborated that there were Su-27s based
in the area the Georgian radar tracks show the attacking
aircraft returned to. Ulyanov dismissed the U.S. remarks,
noting that the U.S. still could not say whether the
attacking aircraft was a MiG-29 or a Su-27.
15. (SBU) Neighbour replied that while the U.S. had a
national position on the question of MiG-29 or Su-27, the
point was that UNOMIG report concluded the attacker was from
the Russian air force and both the MiG-29 and Su-27 had the
twin tails seen on the aircraft in the video. Ulyanov
charged that Neighbour's comment about Russian statements on
the use of force was a deliberate distortion. Russia was not
threatening Georgia but warning against military adventurism
in order to protect the civilian population. He also said
that it was improper for Georgia to provide the Baltic and
U.S. experts' conclusions to the UN team. Russian military
experts are now reviewing the materials and the Georgian
radar returns are not the same as Russia has.
16. (SBU) The Estonian FSC chair (Parts) noted that there was
a strict timeframe for consultations under Chapter III and
hoped there might be some information on these by the end of
the week, i.e., May 30.
Security Dialogue: MONDEM
17. (SBU) The manager for the UN Development Program in
Montenegro (MONDEM), Gordan Ivanovic, reported on the status
of the major components of the program: disposal of hazardous
and toxic waste including rocket fuel and Napalm components,
conventional ammunition stockpile management,
demilitarization of conventional ammunition, and destruction
and recycling of heavy weapons. Among challenges to the
program, Ivanovic noted the dearth of general contractors
available to work on depot improvement because of
tourism-related construction on the coast; some uncertainty
over the exact amount of ammunition to be destroyed because
of uncoordinated actions by the government of Montenegro
including sale of surplus stocks; a lack of in-country
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capability for storage and disposal of ammunition and weapons
stocks; and legal impediments to efficient transfer of funds
from OSCE donors to MONDEM.
18. (SBU) The U.S. (Neighbour) noted its bilateral
contributions to Montenegro including destruction of MANPADS,
naval mines and torpedoes, and larger munitions. In response
to U.S. questions about MONDEM's progress on small arms
ammunition destruction, Pierre Surprenant, the MONDEM chief
technical adviser, explained that the actual size of the
ammunition stocks to be treated was much smaller than
originally estimated, partly because of government sales.
Because of this, it was no longer economically feasible to
acquire an explosive waste incinerator. The only option
presently available is open-pit burning, which MONDEM
dislikes because of its adverse environmental impact. MONDEM
is seeking other options and is considering a process,
offered by a U.S. contractor, which would convert the
ammunition into fertilizer. Surprenant said that small arms
ammunition was not a priority at the moment. He also
confirmed that the new inventory being prepared does not
include stocks from other than Montenegrin military sources.
19. (SBU) Denmark (Petersen) and Sweden (Nilsson) expressed
concern over the lack of regular "formal" reporting by MONDEM
to OSCE. Ivanovic said a formal report had been submitted in
December 2007 and another would be submitted at the end of
2008. In response to concerns expressed by Denmark, Sweden,
and Germany over the absence of a reliable funds transfer
mechanism, the Conflict Prevention Center (CPC)
(Brandstetter) explained that negotiations were underway
between the OSCE and the UNDP to establish a more reliable
transfer device. As this would affect all cooperative work
between the two institutions, not just MONDEM, resolution of
the complex issues involved was time consuming. Brandstetter
noted that joint programs in Belarus and Tajikistan were also
affected by the funds transfer problem.
MANPADS Decision Adopted
20. (SBU) The chair announced the decision to update the OSCE
MANPADS principles to accord with recent Wassenaar
Arrangement changes had been adopted on May 26 under the
silence procedure, Belarus apparently having joined consensus
Publication of Ammunition BPG
21. (SBU) The U.S. (Silberberg), per reftel instructions,
announced it could not join consensus on the draft decision
to publish the Best Practices Guides (BPG) on conventional
ammunition (FSC.DD/6/08/Rev.1) because it included a
requirement that the OSCE brief the Third Biennial Meeting of
States (BMS) on the BPG. The U.S. explained its position
that ammunition is outside the scope of the BMS, which is
convened to discus progress in the UN Program of Action on
Small Arms and Light Weapons. The U.S. also suggested, per
reftel, language that would require the FSC to take account
of the work of the UN Group of Governmental Experts when
considering further development of the ammunition BPG.
22. (SBU) Germany (Schweizer), one of the sponsors of the
decision, noted that it was needed for the OSCE to commit
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funds for publication of the guides. He explained that the
intent of the reference to the BMS was for the OSCE to alert
BMS delegations of the work the OSCE was doing with
conventional ammunition as well as small arms, as many of the
delegates would also be working in both fields. The tasking
could be fulfilled by a side exhibit at the New York meeting,
outside of the formal meetings, similar to what was done at
the OSCE Madrid Ministerial in 2007. Schweizer said the
language the U.S. objected to was not meant to represent an
OSCE policy position on the purview of the BMS. After the
meeting, Sweden, France, and the UK urged the U.S. to
reconsider its position on the draft decision. The CPC
confirmed that OSCE funds are available for publication of
the guide but must be committed before the end of 2008 or be
Vienna Document Inspection Requests
23. (SBU) The working group endorsed the latest version of
the Russian proposal for a chair's statement that calls for
strict compliance with the timelines for requesting
inspections and evaluations under the Vienna Document
(FSC.DEL/75/08/Rev.3). The U.S., per reftel, did not oppose.
The statement will next be considered in the Plenary.
Russia asked the CPC to prepare a report on compliance with
the guidelines from May to November 2008. The CPC, at the
chair's invitation, agreed.
24. (SBU) Russia's draft decision to define the "specified
area" for Vienna Document inspections at 25,000 square
kilometers (FSC.DEL/493/07/Rev.2) received no support,
although Denmark (Petersen) noted that an earlier version of
the proposal also specified a maximum distance between two
points of 200 kilometers. Denmark proposed restoring this to
the text with an increase in the distance to 300 kilometers.
Prior Notification of Major Military Activities
25. (SBU) Russia said it was returning to its proposal
(FSC.DEL/495/07/Rev.3) to require annual notification of at
least one "major military activity because the 2005 chair's
statement urging participating States to make voluntary
notifications was inadequate as only "ten or eleven"
notifications had been received each year since 2005.
26. (SBU) Germany (Schweizer) said there would be difficulty
in reaching consensus on the proposal, noting that several pS
had no or such small forces that they had not activities to
notify. Why change, Schweizer asked, a well-functioning
measure? Ulyanov replied that eleven notifications a year
was hardly "well-functioning." What was needed was a
politically binding decision.
27. (SBU) Sweden (Nilsson), while noting that it made
voluntary notifications each year, said it could support the
Russian proposal. Nilsson suggested changing "will" to
"should" in operative paragraph 1 to allow for "exceptions."
Austria, Belarus and Switzerland, (which had opposed the 2005
chair's statement as not strong enough), supported the
Russian position that a politically binding measure was
USOSCE 00000144 006 OF 006
necessary. Belgium regretted the infrequency of
notifications since 2005 and conceded that the Russian
proposal might be appropriate.
28. (SBU) Germany recalled that the chair's statement was the
result of 18 months of negotiation over a draft decision that
never gained consensus. Did delegations really want to
repeat that experience? Has anything really changed since
2005, Schweizer asked? The present arrangement allows pS to
decide which military activities are of political relevance
to their neighbors.
29. (SBU) Luxembourg (Pilot) said the criterion for
notification is a "concentration of forces that would pose a
threat to other states." In light of changes since 1999,
perhaps these notifications should be considered more as
confidence-building mechanism. A change in the rationale for
the notifications would require drafting changes and a new
minimum or threshold for the activities would need to be
Ukraine Melange Project
30. (SBU) The CPC (Brandstetter) reported that the Ukraine
melange project was still delayed by negotiations over
privileges and immunities issues. Germany had requested an
update on the project at the May 21 FSC.
31. (U) The FSC on June 4 will hold a joint meeting with the
Permanent Council that will be dedicated to cyber security.
There will also be a special working group meeting on June 4
to prepare the OSCE contribution to the BMS and begin a
review of the entire OSCE acquis on small arms and light