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Cablegate: Medvedev's Message Laden Trip to Berlin

VZCZCXRO6696
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1680/01 1631446
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 111446Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8575
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001680

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL GM RS
SUBJECT: MEDVEDEV'S MESSAGE LADEN TRIP TO BERLIN

REF: BERLIN 755

1. (SBU) Summary: The MFA assessed Medvedev's June 5 trip to
Berlin - his first European trip as President - as having
successfully demonstrated the importance of Russia-German and
Russia-EU relations. Although the short, eight-hour visit
yielded little on substance, it provided Medvedev an
opportunity to establish a rapport with Chancellor Merkel and
establish himself as a "reliable" partner (reftel).
According to the MFA, a host of issues was discussed, with
energy and the Nord Stream pipeline deemed the most important
topics. The leaders covered several foreign policy issues,
including missile defense, which Merkel reportedly told
Medvedev was best dealt with through discussions between the
U.S. and Russia. Medvedev used his public appearances to
stress upholding the rule of law in Russia in an effort to
assure German businesses that Russia was a sound economic
partner. The Russian press contrasted Medvedev's debut with
the threatening tone of Putin's March 2008 Munich speech,
although many noted Medvedev delivered a very similar
message, albeit with more bonhomie. End summary.

Medvedev's Positive Message to Germany
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) During a June 10 briefing for the diplomatic corps,
MFA Principal Counselor Mikhail Markarov explained that
Medvedev's June 5 trip to Berlin was intended to demonstrate
the importance of Russian-German bilateral ties and allow
Medvedev to establish a working/personal relationship with
Chancellor Merkel. The brief, eight-hour visit centered upon
the two leaders' meeting and a few public events, including a
televised public address, with little time for deliverables
or concrete results. When asked what was the most important
result of the trip, Markarov emphasized the significance of
Berlin as Medvedev's first European destination as President
and the positive tone of his message, signifying that the new
Russian President wished to be a "partner" with both Germany
and the EU. Markarov did not mince words over the importance
to Moscow of its relationship with Berlin, characterizing it
as the "engine of Russia-EU and Russia-NATO relations."

3. (SBU) Markarov explained that synchronized visits -
Medvedev to Germany and Putin to France - demonstrated
Russia's focus to broaden ties with the EU as they progress
toward finalizing the EU-Russia Cooperation Agreement.
Markarov admitted that it was important for Medvedev to visit
Europe soon after his first foreign trip as President took
him to China, and joked that the Europeans could accept this
order of travel better than the Chinese, who placed more
importance on such symbolism.

Energy and Foreign Policy
-------------------------

4. (SBU) Markarov said that Medvedev and Merkel's discussion
on energy was the most important element of their meeting,
although Medvedev's offer of a Russia-German "energy
partnership" did not lead to concrete results. Medvedev and
Merkel, reaffirming the importance of the Nord Stream
pipeline, agreed upon the necessity of overcoming the
objections of certain countries, particularly Sweden, to the
project.

5. (SBU) The leaders covered the waterfront on foreign policy
without going into detail on any topic in particular.
Markarov said that when Medvedev brought up missile defense,
the Chancellor responded that the issue was best dealt with
through discussions between the U.S. and Russia. Markarov
noted that while Medvedev's proposal for a legally binding
treaty on European security was broached in his public speech
but not his meeting with Merkel, the "German side" responded
positively without making any commitment. Markarov told us
that the CFE Treaty was not discussed by Medvedev and Merkel
despite a MFA press release to the contrary.

Rule of Law Will Help Economic Ties
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) Per Markarov, Medvedev previewed his political
priorities with his message on strengthening the rule of law
and promoting more liberal media law, partly in an effort to
assuage European concern. Markarov stressed that Medvedev's
message not be taken as a new direction away from Putin's
principles.

7. (SBU) Markarov pointed out the fact that Medvedev used his
speech to cover some of the same issues he and Merkel
discussed privately, including his call to remove legal
restrictions on Russian investment in European companies,
which discriminated against Russian businesses and detracted

MOSCOW 00001680 002 OF 002


from potential economic cooperation. Medvedev also spoke of
the demographic crisis facing Russia and many European
countries, which he and Merkel agreed their governments would
cooperate on addressing. During the question and answer
period following the speech, Medvedev addressed the need to
improve conditions in Russia for small and medium sized
businesses such as by making capital more available, another
area the two leaders had discussed.

8. (SBU) Markarov noted that Medvedev's trip had a
significant public component in the hope that his message of
partnership would reach beyond Germany's political and
business elite. When asked the message inferred from
Medvedev's visit to the Soviet War Memorial and cemetery,
Markarov responded that Treptow remained important for all
Russians and his visit was not designed to remind Germany of
its past.

Soft Spoken But Still Follows Putin's Path
-------------------------------------------

9. (U) The Russian media focused largely on the atmospherics
of Medvedev's visit, noting his willingness to raise issues
of concern to Europe such as the rule of law in Russia, or
how the new President's softer tone differed from that of
Putin's infamous Munich speech that rattled the West. RIA
Novesti's Andrey Fedyashin commented, however, that despite
Medvedev's overall positive message or softer tone, his
speech covered much of the same ground as Putin's by focusing
on Russian differences with the West over NATO, missile
defense, and Kosovo, and warning against foreign interference
in Russian internal affairs.
RUSSELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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