Cablegate: Czech Thinking On Upcoming Eu Presidency - Part Ii

DE RUEHPG #0384/01 1721745
P 201745Z JUN 08




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B. 07 PRAGUE 1151

1. (SBU) Summary: On June 12-13 State EUR/ERA Office Director
Bill Lucas met with a variety of Czech officials preparing
for the January 2009 Czech EU Presidency. Czech officials
covered the waterfront - from their very broad vision of what
they hope to accomplish by next June, to the specifics of how
to finalize dates for key U.S.-EU meetings. End Summary.

Czechs Condense Priorities
2. (SBU) In the fall of 2007, the Czechs published their
priorities for the EU Presidency, "Europe Without Barriers,"
which highlights the Czech commitment to press for a freer
movement of persons and services and address EU bureaucratic
impediments to progress in these areas. The five stated
Czech priorities fall under the categories - Competitiveness
of the EU, Energy Security and Sustainability, Reform of the
EU Budget, Foreign Policy, and EU Third Pillar (Justice and
Security) issues. The Czechs have begun now to narrow their
focus at the urging of Prime Minister Topolanek, who wants
the GOCR to take on issues where concrete results are
achievable. Thus, the Czechs are winnowing these down and
they are likely to settle on two or three key priorities.
Mr. Marek Mora, Deputy to the Deputy Czech Prime Minister,
indicated to Lucas that the Czechs are quite keen to advance
Energy Security and Sustainability as well as Competitiveness
of the EU. Foreign Policy, particularly the three
subsections of transatlantic relations (listed first), the
Balkans and the European Neighborhood Policy, cannot be left
behind, however, which makes it very likely that the Czechs
will settle on three overarching priorities rather than
simply two as the Prime Minister would prefer.

Czech Interest in Cooperating with USG
3. (SBU) Given our strong bilateral relationship, the Czechs
are interested in working with the USG in several areas.
Czech MFA Department of the Americas Director, Katerina
Fialkova, suggested that our goals for transatlantic
relations should be "ambitious, but realistic" with a focus
on continuity. She also proposed that similar to the
Slovenes, it would be useful to use the model of three
baskets. In the first, she highlighted regional and security
issues (transatlantic relations, Balkans, ENP, while Lucas
added Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East). In the
second basket she put economic issues (TEC and investment
dialogue) and in the third basket she highlighted global
issues (climate change/energy security while Lucas added
human rights, and ESDP).

4. (SBU) The issue of human rights cooperation also came up
with Mora who noted Czech interest in advancing this
particularly in relation to Burma, Cuba and Belarus. On the
topic of energy security, Mora noted that the Czechs are
exploring the possibility of perhaps hosting a conference or
an expanded discussion (to perhaps include the U.S. and or
Central Asian countries as well as energy suppliers) with the
EU Energy Ministers in Prague in February. They hope to
significantly advance this topic prior to the December 2009
energy conference in Copenhagen. On Foreign Policy items,
the Czechs would like to work closely with us on the Balkans,
which they refer to as "our common child," as well as the
"Eastern Neighborhood." In a later conversation with Director
Vaclav Balek of the MFA Department of EU Common Foreign and
Security Policy Director, Balek highlighted that the Czechs
really hope to press forward on accession for Croatia and the
opening of talks with Macedonia. In conversations with both
Mora and Balek, Lucas also referenced USG interest in keeping
our joint efforts in Afghanistan front and center.

TEC - Getting Beyond Chicken
5. (SBU) Czech Director of European Policy Coordination
within the Deputy Prime Minister's Office, Michal Sedlacek,
highlighted Czech disappointment with the interaction so far
at the Transatlantic Economic Council, and he was interested
in hearing our thoughts on how U.S. and EU engagement could
be structured to make the TEC more productive. Lucas offered
to provide a paper on USG thinking related to the TEC; Lucas
also noted that while the EU committed in October 2007 to
dealing with the lack of access to the EU poultry market, the
EU has yet to do so. The safety of U.S. poultry processing
with chemicals, according to several of our Czech
interlocutors, is a very "political," as opposed to
"scientific" issue. They were skeptical that this would be

PRAGUE 00000384 002 OF 002

easily resolved, given that several EU member states "are
very entrenched" in their opposition.

Czechs Float Ideas - Schedule, Summits, Visits, and
Structured Dialogue
6. (SBU) Summits and Trips: Sedlacek highlighted the
benefits of having the new U.S. President visit Europe as one
of his very first trips abroad, and if this is done, the
Czechs would want this visit to include Prague, since they
will hold the EU Presidency. Besides the Summit with the U.S.
during the Czech Presidency (the Czechs expect this will be
in the U.S., and they are planning for June), there are plans
for Summits with Japan and Canada, and an interest in perhaps
hosting some major conferences as well. Balek noted that the
EU is looking to enhance EU-Israel relations. Depending on
how the internal EU discussions develop in this area, the EU
may even upgrade relations to include a Summit next spring.

7. (SBU) Structured Dialogue at GAERC: As one intriguing
idea, the Czechs expressed an interest in perhaps having a
structured dialogue with the USG at several of the GAERCs,
which would theoretically allow all of us to better prepare
for our Summit in June. The idea would be to perhaps discuss
Security at the March GAERC, Economics in April, and Global
Issues in May. This is clearly only a fledgling idea of the
Czechs, that they appear not to have fully worked through
internally, nor with their EU member state counterparts.
Nonetheless, it is an idea which demonstrates that the Czechs
are thinking creatively and that they are seeking new ways to
engage closely with us.

8. (SBU) Scheduling: Czech MFA Department of the Americas
Director Katerina Fialkova flagged Czech interest in working
closely with us to schedule U.S.-EU meetings, noting that
they have already penciled in the Political Directors meeting
for January 8 or 9. She offered to provide a copy of the
Czech preliminary schedule of meetings with the U.S., which
post has now shared with Washington (ref A).

Lisbon Treaty Implementation Issues
9. (SBU) At the time of Lucas's meetings with Czech
officials, the Irish referendum results were not known. The
Czechs, however, have been preparing to move forward with
their EU Presidency under either condition - with, or
without, the Lisbon Treaty in place. Czech interlocutors
flagged for Lucas their interest in making sure that Czech PM
Topolanek has a substantive role to play during this, the
very first Czech EU Presidency. With respect to
implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, the Czechs stated that
they have engaged their French and Swedish counterparts
regarding the EU common program, but many aspects of the
treaty appeared to them unlikely to fall into place until the
treaty ratification process was further along. (Note: In a
subsequent conversation on June 19 with officials in Deputy
Prime Minister Vondra's office, the Czechs stated that they
consider this process to be at a standstill for the moment.
They also referenced the comments of Commission President
Barroso that this issue will be discussed at the next EU
Council meeting scheduled for October 2008. End Note.)

10. (SBU) Comment: The Czechs officials that we met with are
all quite enthusiastically preparing for their upcoming EU
Presidency which commences in six months. Since this is the
very first time they will assume the EU Presidency, they are
quite eager to make this a success, including by closely
cooperating with the United States. We have an opportunity
here to begin shaping the U.S.-EU agenda under their
presidency early. We believe the Czechs will be responsive
to our ideas, such as the promised paper on TEC. We should
also ensure that we use the first session of the U.S.-Czech
Strategic Dialogue, scheduled for September 4, to tee up some
of the priority issues for their presidency.

11. (U) Please Note EUR/ERA Director William Lucas did not
have a chance to clear this prior to post's transmission.

© Scoop Media

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