Cablegate: Bosnia, Eu-Russian Relations, and Drc Are On the Uk's Agenda at November Gymnich and Gaerc Meetings
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002785
STATE FOR EUR/WE AND EUR/ERA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2018
TAGS: PREL ETRD PGOV EUN GA IR IZ CG RS UK
SUBJECT: BOSNIA, EU-RUSSIAN RELATIONS, AND DRC ARE ON THE UK'S AGENDA AT NOVEMBER GYMNICH AND GAERC MEETINGS
REF: A. STATE 115017 B. LONDON 2735 Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills for reasons 1.4 (B) an d (D).
1. (C) Summary. Foreign Secretary Miliband intends to impress on his EU counterparts that worsening trends in Bosnia require a unified EU message, and to highlight the need for political action in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), during the November Gymnich and GAERC meetings. The UK Government also will use the meetings to make sure that if EU negotiations resume on an updated EU-Russia Partnership Agreement (PCA) that such talks are conducted on the basis of "where the wider relationship" with Russia now stands. Paul Williams, the Foreign Office EU Correspondent, also conveyed that the UK's current view of Russian President Medvedev's proposal for a new European Security Treaty is that, although London is willing to hear more details, now is not the right time following events in Georgia for serious discussions with Moscow and that any discussions have to begin with Moscow's recognition that existing European security institutions -- OSCE, NATO, ESDP -- remain central and cannot be altered. The UK does not expect the Doha Round to be on the agendas for either of the November EU meetings, but a UK official flagged that the UK Government sees it as a likely issue for discussion at the November 15 G-20 meeting. End summary.
2. (SBU) Williams, who will be traveling to Brussels for the November 10 GAERC but did not travel to the November 3 Gymnich, provided the following readout of UK goals for both meetings:
-- (C) Bosnia/Western Balkans. FS Miliband put Bosnia on the agenda for the GAERC because he wants to emphasize to his counterparts what the UK sees as "worsening trend lines" in the country (as earlier reported ref B). Miliband wants to underscore the importance of completing the Peace Implementation Council-agreed 5 2 agenda and on getting the EU to fully back the Office of the High Representative's (OHR) work. Miliband agrees with the U.S. view that OHR Lajack needs to know that the EU and USG are in agreement on his next steps over the coming months. Miliband also wants to ensure the EU speaks with one voice to Prime Minister Dodik about the unacceptability of efforts to weaken the Bosnian state and encourage separatism.
-- (C) Russia PCA. Cautioning that the UK's view on the EU-Russia PCA was still "a bit in flux," Williams said that the UK's current position going into both EU meetings will be that continuing to postpone negotiations on a PCA is "probably counter-productive" because the EU is in the position of "demandeur" on most of the issues at stake; the Russians do not seem to put "that much value on restarting negotiations one way or the other." Williams did stress, however, that London wants to be sure that if negotiations are to be resumed that they be carried out with recognition of the "wider Russian relationship" with the world. There should be no rush to move forward and the discussions must be informed by "current Russian behavior." When pressed, Williams acknowledged that moving forward on that basis will be hard for the UK and like-minded EU members to monitor, but he argued it was possible. The decision on restarting PCA negotiations will be "much influenced" by the French Presidency, Williams said. Williams, however, believes the majority of EU members want to re-engage on negotiations. (Embassy comment. Williams also flagged that Foreign Office lawyers have raised the issue of whether, once started, the PCA negotiations actually could be legally suspended or stopped; Williams had no further detail, but suggested the British Government is following up on this issue in Brussels. End summary).
-- (C) Medvedev's Security Treaty Proposal. Williams understood the issue may come up at the November 10 GAERC and said FS Miliband is "firm" that, although the UK is willing to "listen to further details the Russians may offer," any serious discussion about the Treaty proposal must begin with an acknowledgment that NATO, OSCE and other existing institutions remain the cornerstone of European security. The British also believe that now is not really the time, in light of Russian behavior in Georgia, to begin "real LONDON 00002785 002 OF 002 discussions" on the proposal. London also does not want the EU to engage in "serious" talks with Moscow on the proposal without U.S. participation and will make this point as well in the GAERC meeting.
-- (C) DRC. Miliband will brief at the Gymnich, joined by his French counterpart, on his 10/31-11/2 trip to the DRC. Williams had limited information on what exactly Miliband will say on the situation, but expects the main talking point to be that the EU can do more via political channels to affect the warring parties. Williams said that the EU Council Secretariat had prepared a paper that proposed several options for EU action, including sending an EU military battalion to support the UN Mission, but the UK "is skeptical" because an EU force would make little difference, given the size the EU could muster; in any case, British forces are already stretched because of Afghanistan and Iraq so the UK could not "meaningfully participate" in any EU force. Williams noted that EU High Representative Solana had emphasized the importance of diplomatic efforts, rather than more EU military troops, in his public comments on the crisis.
-- (C) Trans-Atlantic Relations. According to Williams, the Gymnich meeting on November 3 will include discussions on transatlantic relations post-U.S. elections. Williams said an internal paper -- an "aide memoire" on what the unified EU view is on issues from the Middle East to Russia -- was to be tabled for review. He did not think the exercise has much "significant value" but was intended to keep "some of the outlying EU capitals" from saying the "wrong things in the immediate months after the election." Williams said that he understood the draft of the paper would not be shared with the U.S. Government.
-- (SBU) Middle East. Williams did not anticipate either meeting would spend much time discussion Middle East issues or Iran.
-- (SBU) Doha. Williams did not believe that trade issues would be a significant element of discussion at the GAERC, although development and aid Ministers will be present. A senior trade official at the UK Ministry for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform told Econoff on October 31 that he also he did not expect trade issues to be discussed at the GAERC. However, he stressed that the November 15 financial summit in Washington offers a real opportunity for leaders to come to an agreement on Doha. He expected the EU would support ref A points, but would, at the same time, want to see the U.S. be more flexible toward India on safeguards. Reaching any agreement is better than no agreement, particularly now with the financial crisis, he pressed. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX