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Cablegate: Ambassador Silverberg Meets Eu Policy Planning

VZCZCXRO0170
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHBS #1257/01 2261939
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 131939Z AUG 08
FM USEU BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 001257

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV ENGY EUN GG BO SY
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR SILVERBERG MEETS EU POLICY PLANNING
CHIEF

BRUSSELS 00001257 001.2 OF 002


Class...

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 001257 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2018 TAGS: PREL PGOV ENGY EUN GG BO SY

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR SILVERBERG MEETS EU POLICY PLANNING CHIEF BRUSSELS 00001257 001.2 OF 002

Classified By: USEU POLMC Chris Davis for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 1. (C) Summary: During the Ambassador's initial call on her, on July 23, EU Policy Planning Director Helga Schmid urged that the EU and U.S. coordinate efforts on Georgia and together convince Russia of Georgia's importance to us. Schmid reviewed measures to be taken regarding Georgia and Abkhazia, including a proposal that the EU act as an observer, as was done with Moldova and Transnistria, which, she thought, the Abkhaz would welcome. To her mind, the Abkhaz had no illusions about Russia. On Syria, the Ambassador cautioned that the EU not make concessions absent concrete evidence of changes in Syrian policy. Taking the point, Schmid said there were reasons to be optimistic. On energy security, Helga Schmid noted Russia's more aggressive role, including attempts to "buy up" the energy sector in Belarus. PolMC accompanied the Ambassador. End Summary. Georgia and Abkhazia -------------------- 2. (C) Helga Schmid, Director of the Council's Policy Unit, said that her focus was on the east - i.e., Russia/CIS, Ukraine, Middle East and Syria - and on horizontal issues, such as climate change and energy security. She and the Ambassador opened their meeting by agreeing that the U.S. and EU exerted more leverage on the question of Georgia by working together. (Note: Their discussion took place two weeks before fighting broke out in South Ossetia. End Note.) Schmid was discussing with the Political and Security Committee (PSC) concrete proposals involving direct talks, an economic package of incentives, confidence building measures, and a proposal that the EU act as an observer for the dispute between Georgia and Abkhazia, as was done with Transnistria and Moldova. Schmid had been to Abkhazia with High Representative Javier Solana and noted Abkhaz interest in having EU involvement. She said she was impressed by the fact that the Abkhaz had no illusions about Russia, which was "instrumentalizing" the m; however, they feel isolated. "We tell the Georgians to reach out to the Abkhaz; the Georgians won't commit themselves to the status (of Abkhazia) question right away, but they need to be a more attractive alternative than Russia is," Schmid noted. 3. (C) Helga Schmid said that the briefing by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier at the July GAERC was not a breakthrough, but no one has a better proposal. Schmid was alert to Russian attempts to divide the U.S. from the EU, and she added that she appreciated U.S. Ambassador Tefft's supportive statement about the Friends of Georgia Group. She was pleasantly surprised, she said, that Georgia dominated discussions between Chancellor Merkel and Russian President Medvedev, and that Merkel raised it at G-8. Russia has to understand the importance of this issue to the EU, Schmid said. Syria ----- 4. (C) If Syrian President Al-Assad kept his promise made at the recent Mediterranean Union Summit to exchange ambassadors with Lebanon and was generally more helpful, such an attitude would help the Annapolis process, Schmid said. An options paper on Lebanon presented to the PSC ten days earlier, she said, offered the possibility of unfreezing the Association Agreement with Syria and the possibility of increased investment, which Syria "badly" needed. The Ambassador cautioned against offering too much too soon, saying we ought to look for concrete changes in Syrian policy, that Syria stop violating arms embargo, stop rearming Hezbollah, and respect sovereign borders. 5. (C) Schmid said that she was cautious when presenting her options paper to the PSC, stressing the importance of seeing concrete steps on the part of Syria, such as adopting a more constructive role regarding Lebanon, including establishing diplomatic relations, and stopping support for terrorism. Nonetheless, there were some encouraging signs. Prime Minister Sinora considered diplomatic relations with Syria to be more important than recovering Sheba Farms, for example, and Syria considered Lebanon to be more important than the Golan Heights. Moreover, Helga Schmid asked rhetorically, how can secular Syria have a strategic relationship with Iran, a question she said she once put directly to the Syrian Prime Minister. Energy Security and Belarus --------------------------- 6. (C) The Ambassador raised energy security, and Schmid said the topic is part of a paper her unit is preparing on climate change and security. In advance of an updated European Security Strategy report due in December, Schmid said she will host a gathering of policy planners this fall, to which S/P David Gordon is invited. Whereas the 2003 Strategy report focused on topics such as terrorism and non-proliferation, the "new challenges" of energy security and climate change will be featured. The report will BRUSSELS 00001257 002 OF 002 consider options for early warning systems, and it will look at transit countries. 7. (C) A week prior to her meeting with the Ambassador, Helga Schmid went to Belarus, where "Russians are buying up everything," including more than 50 percent of the Belarus national gas company. She recounted meeting prominent opposition candidate Menekevich who, while admitting hatred for Lukashenko, nonetheless noted that the Belarusian President at least guaranteed Belarus's independence from Russia. SILVERBERG .

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