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Cablegate: French Ambassador to Greece On the Eu Presidency: What He

VZCZCXRO1704
PP RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHYG
DE RUEHTH #0970/01 1900924
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 080924Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2123
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHIK/AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI PRIORITY 1902

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000970

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ECON KPAO EU GR FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO GREECE ON THE EU PRESIDENCY: WHAT HE
DIDN'T SAY

ATHENS 00000970 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Speaking at an "Ambassador's Forum"

sponsored by the Greek MFA in Athens on July 7, French Ambassador
Christian Farnaud's presentation on his country's goals for the EU
Presidency, covering the Lisbon Treaty to the Mediterranean Union
via
environmental, immigration, agriculture, and defense policy reforms,

was perhaps most notable for what he did not say. In contrast to
French President Sarzoky's resonant speech to the Greek Parliament
last
month, the envoy was silent on the Macedonia name issue and said
little
about Balkan or regional concerns, noting simply that enlargement in

this neighborhood is "in process" and that the French would be
"impartial" about Turkey's case. Interestingly, neither he nor
Greek
FM Dora Bakoyannis made any direct mention of the United States.
END
SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

2. (U) Introducing the French diplomat, the third to appear in the

"Ambassador's Forum" series (note: following the Portugese envoy
last
summer and U.S. Ambassador Speckhard last fall), Greek MFA Spokesman

George Koumoutsakos recalled The Economist magazine's recent
question:
Is the EU experiencing a mid-life crisis, some 50 years after the
Treaty of Rome? Or should we be counting from its new beginning
just
15 years ago, in 1993?

3. (U) Expanding on this, FM Bakoyannis started by saying that the

French are assuming the EU presidency at a critical time not just
for
Europe, but for the world. "These Qnpean
Union
[action], pics and populists claima theme at the end of
support. We have told our Greek interlocutors that our
understanding of what transpired is quite different, and that
the authority to provide support or deny support for an
exercise rests solely with NATO authorities. Visiting CC-AIR
Commander Lt Gen Lee McFann, Commander, NATO Air Component,
Izmir (U.S.) emphatically told Greek civilian and military
interlocutors that this issue is a "political problem" and
that Greek officials must take the matter up with NATO
political authorities. We are telling the Greeks that before
proposing a new exercise they need to ensure that NATO SYG de
Hoop Scheffer has issued clear, written assurances that he
will allow the exercise to proceed. We are also advising the
Greeks not to force the issue by rescheduling the exercise
absent such assurances from de Hoop Scheffer, otherwise they
are headed for a repeat performance. The Greeks are
attempting to make this a U.S. problem; we shouldn't let them
do so. End Summary.

---------------------------------
Agios Efstratios - Recent History
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) Although the Turks and Greeks have long disagreed
about the status of certain islands in the Aegean (ref A) the
question of the status of the island of Agios Efstratios (AE)
was first raised in the year 2000 when Turkey raised
questions related to AE's status in the course of planning
for a NATO exercise, "Destined Glory 2000." Prior to that
date, we are aware of no suggestions that it was anything
other than Greek sovereign erritory with the same status as
the rest of reek territory, i.e. with no demilitarized
sttus. We are aware that Turkey argues that AE can be tied
to treaties pre-dating the Lausanne Convention that would
suggest it may be demlitarized.

3. (C) In 2007, Greece sought NAO support for a training
exercise "Noble Archr," that included the Limnos Terminal
MilitaryArea (TMA) as well as AE. (Limnos, unlike Agios
Efstratios, is specifically mentioned in the treaties whose
interpretation is disputed by our two Allies). After review,
NATO did not support the exercise, as Limnos has long been
the subject of a Greek/Turkish dispute (Greece claims that
the Montreux Convention amended Lausanne provisions allowing
Greece to "remilitarize" Limnos and Turkey has long
challenged this claim), and NATO policy has long been to
avoid exercises related to Limnos. Following cancellation of
the exercise, the Greeks expressed concern that its
cancellation could be construed also to support the more
recent Turkish claims related to AE. This led the United
States to do two things:

-- Then-U/S Nick Burns made a public statement standing next
to Greek FM Bakoyannis that the United States considered AE
to be Greek territory, that the U.S. has the impression it is
not demilitarized, and that this is an issue for NATO to
review to see if it can reach an arrangement to allow such
military exercises to proceed (ref A).

-- Privately, U.S. officials in Washington and Athens pressed
the Greeks to raise Greek concerns with NATO officials --
civilian and military.


ATHENS 00000970 002.2 OF 002

5. (SBU) The French Ambassador refused to be drawn in when a
journalist asked a question about the Siemens bribery scandal,
currently the biggest news story in Greece, with estimates of
kickbacks
to politicians here in the run-up to the 2004 general election
campaign
and Olympic Games as high as 35 million Euros. He first answered
mildly that the EU is a success story when it comes to economic and

commercial issues, "speaking with one voice in the Doha round."
When
pressed, he demurred that "Brussels is very vigilant" about
corruption,
and referred the journalist to the European Commission, rather than
the
EU presidency. SPECKHARD

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