Search

 

Cablegate: Das Graffy Meets with Greek Parliamentarians On

VZCZCXRO9177
OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHTH #1457/01 2940635
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200635Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2658
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ EPA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 001457

SIPDIS

DEPT ALSO FOR EUR/ERA FOR BEH/NELSON, EUR/PGI FOR TESSLER,
OES/PCI FOR FITE/HUDAK, OES/EGC FOR FENDLEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KGHG EAGR SENV ENRG TRGY PREL PGOV OSCE AF GR
SUBJECT: DAS GRAFFY MEETS WITH GREEK PARLIAMENTARIANS ON
ENVIRONMENT

REF: ATHENS 01411

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 8, Deputy Assistant Secretary
(DAS) for Public Diplomacy for Europe and EurAsia Colleen
Graffy met with several Members of Parliament (MP) from the
Greek Special Standing Committee on Protection of the
Environment. The discussion focused largely on managing
carbon emissions for the major economies, utilizing advanced
technologies for waste and water management in Greece, and
regional energy security issues. DAS Graffy emphasized key
USG programs on climate change and green diplomacy. End
Summary.

MPs from Environment Highlight Concerns on
Climate Change, Waste and Water Management
------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In an October 8 meeting with Greek MPs from the
Environment Committee, DAS Colleen Graffy said the U.S. is
listening to the conversation in Europe on environment and
looking to change the perception that the U.S. is not engaged
on climate change, where it has already committed USD 37
billion. The U.S. leads the major economies and is working
towards a tenable forward-looking solutions post-Kyoto. DAS
Graffy highlighted the State Department's "green diplomacy"
campaign to partner with citizens and the innovative "League
of Green Embassies," to instill a carbon-neutral footprint,
by applying recycling, energy conservation & efficiency, and
using renewable energy sources, for member Embassies. (Note:
Athens joined the League of Green Embassies in April 2008.
End Note.) She added that the U.S. was also encouraging
green industries and the creation of green-collar jobs to be
developed alongside second-generation technologies in
biofuels and renewable energies.

3. (SBU) MP Dimitris Varvarigos, Deputy Chairman of the
Environmental Committee and the ranking member of the
committee from the major opposition PASOK party, criticized
the U.S. stance regarding the Kyoto Protocol and said the
size of the U.S. economy put it in a unique place to take a
leadership role on climate change. Greece is a very small
country with a smaller level of emissions relative to other
countries, he maintained, and our compliance with the Kyoto
Protocol is more symbolic than substantive. "If we are not
trying to meet our obligations to reduce carbon emissions,
than we cannot ask others to do the same." MP Michalis
Papagiannakis from the left coalition said cooperation on
environmental issues was necessary, as we all had "the same
boat and the same fortune." Finally, in a rare appearance by
a member of the Communist Party (KKE - which remains a
Stalinist party) in a meeting with a U.S. official, MP Nikos
Gantzis said that if U.S. policies on the environment were
presented as was done by DAS Graffy, his party "would have no
problems" with the U.S.

4. (SBU) The head of the Environmental Committee MP Kyriakos
Mitsotakis, son of the former Greek Prime Minister
Konstantinos Mitsotakis, said the US can improve its image by
contributing to Europe's efforts and supporting the UN
framework to hammer out the post Kyoto Protocol. He
commented that Greece has "just about met" the Kyoto protocol
requirements. (Note: However, it appears that Greece has
not compiled - see reftel.) As for Greece's energy concerns,
he remarked that the interest in renewables was very high
given Greece's supply of wind and sun, but it still had a
long way to go. Waste management was a pressing issue, he
said, as Greece still relied on landfills and needed to
explore alternatives for incineration. On water, parts of
the country have water shortages, an issue of key importance
to the farmers. Mitsotakis welcomed any exchange of
information with the U.S., speakers, video-conferences, and
especially contacts with the EPA to address these pressing
issues.

MP from Foreign Affairs and Defense Discusses
Regional Energy Security and Assistance
---------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) MP Militiadis Varvitsiotis, President of the
Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, keyed
in on Greece's new energy agenda which has resulted in
strategic partnerships, including with Russia. He emphasized
that this strategy was being implemented by all European
countries. Projects such as the Burgas-Alexandroupli oil
pipeline, were being considered. DAS Graffy encouraged
Varvitsiotis to consider that Russian's recent invasion of
Georgia demonstrated that you cannot simply go

ATHENS 00001457 002 OF 002


"sleep-walking" into reliance on Russia's energy resources.

6. (SBU) On Georgia, DAS Graffy expressed appreciation for
the Government of Greece's (GoG) assistance to Georgia.
Varvitsiotis noted that he would be traveling with other
European representatives to South Ossetia and Abkhazia on a
fact-finding mission for the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Western European Union (WEU). He said the mission would not
focus on who is at fault, but on how to safe-guard Georgian
integrity. When asked about Greece's upcoming chairmanship
of the OSCE in 2009, Varvitsiotis remarked that the GoG was
examining its priorities.

7. (SBU) Regarding Cyprus, he believed that it was turning a
new page given the election of Christofias and renewed
negotiations, but he said Greece had been dissatisfied with
the slow pace of the Joint Committees. Varvitsiotis said the
GoG would never accept a confederation proposal, but one
country with two separate communities. As for Afghanistan,
his recent April visit with other members of the Defense and
Foreign Affairs committee to visit Greek troops had helped to
publicize the challenges in Afghanistan and Greek
contributions to the effort. Varvitsiotis said that the GOG
continues to consider how it might further assist in
Afghanistan. He also agreed that the GOG could potentially
provide greater financial support to Afghanistan. On the
issue of helicopters, he was aware of repeated requests, but
he had concerns that the GoG was utilizing older models and
that the new ones were needed to provide emergency supplies
during critical times to remote islands.

MP from Opposition Party Urges Collaboration
to Address Waste Management and Water Issues
--------------------------------------------

8. (SBU) MP Spyros Kouvelis from the PASOK party briefed DAS
Graffy on the problems with waste management, the lack of
land-planning, and the environmental challenges facing the
agriculture sector. (Note: Kouvelis is Post's FY-09 IVP
candidate and is the former Head of World Wildlife Fund in
Greece. End Note.) In particular, he cited that 85 percent
of water in Greece goes towards agriculture of which 40
percent is wasted. Kouvelis also added that advanced
technologies could help Greece look for solutions on climate
change and waste management. Even looking at best practices
from USG agencies and the private sector would help Greece
improve its policy structure on environment and urban land
planning, he commented. He stressed that Greece is one of
the largest waste-producers in Europe. He welcomed the
opportunity to meet with environmentalists from the U.S. as
well as government agencies such as the EPA, which could
share ideas on the inter-play between agency, industry, and
the community.

Comment
-------

9. (SBU) In all of the meetings with DAS Graffy, the MPs
cited waste management and climate change as two of their top
concerns. The recent pile-up of trash in March and Greece's
disappointing performance in measuring carbon emissions
(reftel) per the Kyoto Protocol are indicative of the
challenges ahead. We have seen little done by the GoG to
attract the private sector to provide advanced technologies
on waste management or invest in the renewable energy sector.
During DAS Graffy's visit, the GoG was receptive to
information exchangs, speakers, and videoconferences on best
practices in the areas cited, as well as eco-tourism and
green buildings, and we intend to follow-up on these
opportunities. End Comment.
SPECKHARD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: