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Cablegate: Unesco Director General Campaign: Belgian And

C O N F I D E N T I A L   UNESCOPARI   12082220
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DE RUEHFR #2220/01 3431658
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FM UNESCO PARIS FR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNSCO/UNESCO COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

id: 181899
date: 12/8/2008 16:58
refid: 08PARISFR2220
origin: Mission UNESCO
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
C O N F I D E N T I A L UNESCOPARI 12082220
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DE RUEHFR #2220/01 3431658
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
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FM UNESCO PARIS FR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNSCO/UNESCO COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS FR 002220

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2018
TAGS: PREL UNESCO BE IT CO
SUBJECT: UNESCO DIRECTOR GENERAL CAMPAIGN: BELGIAN AND
ITALIAN VIEWS

REF: A. (A) PARIS FR 2153
B. (B) PARIS FR 2202
C. (C) PARIS FR 2209

Classified By: AMBASSADOR LOUISE V. OLIVER FOR REASON 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Belgian Ambassador to UNESCO told
Ambassador Oliver December 5 that Belgium does not support
the candidacy of Egypt's Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni,
for UNESCO's next Director General (DG). The Belgian
Ambassador also speculated on the possibility that Ingrid
Bettancourt might become a candidate. Ambassador Oliver also
met with the Italian Ambassador to UNESCO, who explained that
Italy has not yet decided how to handle Mr. Hosni's
candidacy, as it is a complicated situation for them. END
SUMMARY.

2. (C) Ambassador Oliver met with Belgium's Ambassador to
UNESCO, Philippe Kridelka, on December 5. In response to a
question from Ambassador Oliver regarding a statement at a
recent EU meeting indicating Belgian discontent with Mr.
Hosni, Ambassador Kridelka said that the comment had been
made by a representative of the French Community in Belgium
and was inappropriate, though correct. He said that in
addition to being under great pressure from the Jewish
community in Antwerp to oppose Mr. Hosni's candidacy,
memories of World War II were still very strong in Belgium.

3. (C) Ambassador Oliver and Ambassador Kridelka then
discussed ways of slowing the momentum of Mr. Hosni's
candidacy, including by trying to prevent African states from
endorsing Mr. Hosni at their meeting in mid-January.
Ambassador Kridelka was very receptive to Ambassador Oliver's
suggestion that given the Government of Belgium's (GOB)
strong relationships with various African states, the GOB
could contact them to suggest that they postpone endorsing
any candidate until the July African Union meeting.
Ambassador Oliver asked to be kept informed on any Belgian
contacts with African states, as the U.S. would probably be
in contact with some of them as well. The Belgian Ambassador
agreed to do so.

4. (C) Ambassador Kridelka then speculated on the possible
candidacy of Ingrid Bettancourt. He said that she had been
making many speeches recently, and was about to visit the
capitals of eight Latin American countries. The Belgian
Ambassador suggested that France might be very pleased with
Mrs. Bettancourt's candidacy, given her special relationship
with France and President Sarkozy's role in ending her
captivity. He added that when he asked a high level member
of the French government about this possibility, the response
had been that France had no position on this idea. However,
Ambassador Kridelka said that he knew that the chief of staff
of Bernard Kouchner, France's Minister of Foreign and
European Affairs, had recently had dinner with Mrs.
Bettancourt's mother. (COMMENT: Mission witll try to gather
more information on this possibility but has not heard other
delegations mention this possibility. END COMMENT)

5. (C) During a meeting with Italy's Ambassador to UNESCO,
Giuseppe Moscato, on December 5, Ambassador Oliver was told
that Italy did not know what to do about Mr. Hosni.
Ambassador Moscato said that when Mr. Hosni's candidacy was
first announced, the Prodi government had some sympathy for
it, as Mr. Hosni used to run an Egyptian cultural center in
Rome, and spoke Italian. He added, however, that things had
changed since Mr. Hosni's remarks on buring Israeli books in
Egyptian libraries, as Italy was close to Israel and had a
strong Jewish lobby. Ambassador Moscato said that he did not
know what the Berlusconi government's position on this matter
was, and that he had no reports on whether Mr. Hosni's
candidacy had been discussed when President Mubarak met with
Prime Minister Berlusconi in Rome three months ago.

6. (C) In response to a a question from Ambassador Oliver on
a possible Italian candidate, Ambassador Moscato said that
there had been some thought given to that possibility. He
said,however, that he had advised against doing that, as it
would be difficult for someone from Western Europe to be
elected UNESCO's next DG so soon after having had a Spanish
DG. He also said that he had told his government that it was
too soon to endorse any candidate, since Italy would want to
have a high level position in the administration of the next
DG, and therefore needed to be very careful not to alienate
any candidate. However, the Italian Ambassador also said
that he thought he would have little influence on decisions
made by his government, and said that his only role was to
share information and express opionions.

7. (C) COMMENT: Pressure from Israel on Belgium and Italy
could be effective with those countries, especially since
Egypt is aggressively trying to line up support for Mr. Hosni

UNESCOPARI 12082220 002 OF 002


by lobbying captials. Although in the interview published by
Al-Ahram, Mr. Hosni had claimed that he had support from
Italy, that claim seems to be slightly exaggerated. Given
the undercurrent of discomfort that is developing at UNESCO,
it is likely that Egypt will strengthen its lobbying even
more. The emergence of a public figure such as Ingrid
Bettancourt as a possible alternative candidate would
completely change the race for the next DG, as it would slow
down or even stop the Egyptians from being able to obtain
endorsements for Mr. Hosni. END COMMENT.
OLIVER
#2220

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C O N F I D E N T I A L UNESCOPARI 12082220

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