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Cablegate: Accepting Montenegro As a Member in The

VZCZCXRO5974
PP RUEHPOD
DE RUEHC #4399/01 3012059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 272054Z OCT 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 6115
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS PRIORITY 4387
RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST PRIORITY 0190
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 8254
RUEHLJ/AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY 5787
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 8334
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY 0125
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY 6035
RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY 2072
RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY 2253
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB PRIORITY 1763
INFO RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 0991
RUEHPOD/AMEMBASSY PODGORICA PRIORITY 1482
RUEHCH/AMEMBASSY CHISINAU PRIORITY 9732
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 9047

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 114399

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR AL BK HR MK MW SR TU BU SI RO UP
SUBJECT: ACCEPTING MONTENEGRO AS A MEMBER IN THE
SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DEFENSE MINISTERIAL (SEDM)

1. (U) This is an action request; please see
paragraph 6.

2. (SBU) BACKGROUND: At the Southeastern Europe Defense
Ministerial Coordinating Committee (SEDM-CC) meeting held
September 25, 2008, Bulgaria, Greece, and Italy indicated
they would not support Montenegro's joining SEDM without
Serbia joining at the same time. All eleven SEDM member
nations besides the U.S. took a similar position at the
previous SEDM-CC meeting in Skopje, April 2008. While
Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Serbia have observer
status, Montenegro and Serbia have both formally requested
membership.
3. (SBU) Montenegro is qualified to be a fully-participating
member and should receive an invitation to join SEDM.
Montenegro is eager to integrate into Euro-Atlantic
institutions and contribute to regional peace, stability and
security. Members, in keeping with NATO practice, should be
judged on their own merits and membership should not be
linked to another country's status. The U.S. welcomes the
membership of any qualified member but is not willing to
support Serbia's membership without Belgrade's formal
assurance not to block the membership of other qualified
countries, including Kosovo.

4. (SBU) Due to the linkage issue at the SEDM-CC September
Meeting, the issue of new members was not placed on the
agenda for the October 7-8 SEDM Ministerial. During informal
discussions with Bulgaria, Italy, and Greece prior to the
Ministerial, Greece indicated to Embassy Athens it would be
willing to change its position and allow Montenegro to join
without linkage to Serbia. Bulgaria and Italy indicated it
was too late for them to consider altering their position.

5. (U) OBJECTIVES: We would like to take advantage of the
immediate post-ministerial period to press member countries
once again to agree to placing the issue of new members on
the agenda of the next SEDM-CC (expected to be April 2009)
and to support Montenegro's membership without linkage to
Serbia.

6. (U) SEDM member country posts, particularly Embassies
Athens, Sofia and Rome, may draw on points below with
appropriate host country officials:

-- We are disappointed that Montenegro was not invited to
join SEDM at Lake Ohrid. Montenegro earned an invitation to
join the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial (SEDM) and
is qualified to be a fully-participating member.

-- Montenegro's membership aspirations should not be linked
to Serbia's. Montenegro is an independent state and is eager
to integrate into NATO and the EU.

-- Montenegro has made considerable progress in a short time
toward its NATO aspirations. It is working constructively
with regional and international partners and is contributing
to overall regional stability. It has clearly demonstrated
its readiness for SEDM membership.

-- Our position on SEDM is that any qualified country should
be able to join. This is also true for Serbia, whose
participation we would welcome.

-- At the same time, it is important that no country from the
region be excluded from membership.

-- Should Kosovo be qualified in the future to become a
member, we would expect Serbia not to block its membership.

-- Unfortunately, Serbia has publicly stated it opposes
Kosovo's membership in international and regional
organizations.

STATE 00114399 002 OF 002

-- Therefore, until such time as Serbia is prepared to
provide formal assurance that it will not block the
membership of any future-qualified country, including Kosovo,
the U.S. cannot support Serbia's membership.

-- The door remains open to Serbia's membership in the future
should circumstances change.

-- We would like to see agreement at the next SEDM-CC in
April to formally consider new memberships and to issue an
invitation for Montenegro to join.
RICE

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