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Cablegate: Us-Eu Coest Consultations Part 1: Central Asia

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On February 9 in Brussels, EUR DAS Lynn
Pascoe -- accompanied by EUR/ACE Deputy Dan Rosenblum and
EUR/ERA Director Kathy Allegrone -- discussed US-EU
cooperation in Central Asia and the South Caucasus with the
EU's COEST Troika. This cable covers the Central Asia
portion of the consultations. The South Caucasus portion
will be reported septel.

-- Kazakhstan: Country remains relative bright spot in
region, but still needs outside pressure to continue reforms;
immediate priority is for US and EU to coordinate closely on
the ground during run up to parliamentary elections.

-- Uzbekistan: EU shares US concerns about new NGO
registration procedures; EU considering how to respond to
UNHRC resolution; wants to be firm on HR without pushing
Karimov away.

-- Kyrgyzstan: EU is pleased with Kyrgyzstan's extension of
death penalty moratorium, but sees progress on new election
code as insufficient; new Commission office in Bishkek will
provide opportunity for enhanced US-EU pre-election

-- Tajikistan: Commission soon to open office in Dushanbe;
will emphasize border controls and counternarcotics in
upgraded dialogue with Tajikistan.

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-- Chinese Policies: EU keen to hear US views on Chinese
regional policies; glad to learn US views them as generally
non-threatening with regard to Central Asia. END SUMMARY.

Regional Comments

2. (SBU) Irish Presidency rep Barbara Jones said she had
recently met with the Russian Ambassador to the OSCE in
Vienna, who did not see the US/EU/OSCE as having a role to
play in the democratization of the region. Jones concluded
from this that much of the U.S. and EU effort would therefore
be bilateral, as Russia would limit the OSCE's role in the
region. Commission Central Asia and Caucasus Director Kurt
Juul said he has noted increased Russian and Chinese interest
in Central Asia; the EU will continue its focus on regional
programs but the challenge is for the countries of Central
Asia to take concrete steps on political and economic
reforms. Commissioner Patten plans to visit Central Asia in
March. Since the last COEST Troika, Juul said that the EU
has initialed a partnership and Cooperation Agreement with


3. (SBU) Juul said the EU has noted an increased desire on
the part of Turkmenistan for a dialogue with the EC.
Following the EU's recent formal trade and cooperation
meeting with the Turkmen, an informal discussion was held
that included an extensive review of human rights issues.
The EU, Juul said, was encouraged and is prepared to test the
waters with Ashgabat and engage the Turkmen further.


4. (SBU) Juul termed events in Kazakhstan as reflecting an
increasingly "normal" development, with some positive
movement on human rights issues. He said that European
companies remain excited about the business potential of
Kazakhstan,s increasing role as a major energy supplier.
While serious concerns about the business environment
persist, European companies seemed committed to continuing
their engagement with the GOK, he said. Juul noted that
Russian companies also seemed increasingly interested in
investing in the Kazakh private sector.

Pascoe agreed that Kazakhstan,s energy assets and early
reform efforts pointed toward a brighter future than most of
its neighbors, but cautioned that we should continue pressing
Nazarbayev to consolidate the positive changes and follow
through on his reform commitments. Jones pointed out that
Nazarbayev,s apparent effort to crown his daughter for
presidential succession did not bode well for ongoing
political reforms. Pascoe agreed that it bore watching, but
noted that Kazakhstan had a large pool of competent
progressive officials who would work for progress. The
immediate priority, he said, was for the US and EU to
coordinate closely on the ground during the run up to
parliamentary elections to ensure a positive pre-election
environment and broader political representation in the new
parliament. Jones emphatically agreed, and said she would
push for the same kind of close coordination that we have
benefited from in Ukraine. She would also support a
Brussels-Washington link if it helped with coordination on
the ground, but noted that field coordination would, as
usual, be most fruitful.

5. (SBU) The EU agreed with Pascoe that Uzbekistan posed a
particular challenge because on the one hand it remains a
notable human rights violator while on the other it continues
to make progress ) albeit grudging and halting ) on
political reform. Uzbekistan has not strayed from its
determination to do just enough to keep the West off its
back. Karimov had yet to realize that political and economic
reform was necessary for Uzbekistan,s development, Pascoe
said. Yet firm pressure works in Central Asia, Juul
observed, and should be maintained; but we must also be
careful to recognize the positive steps as they are taken.
Both sides agreed that the key challenge was to maintain a
firm line with Karimov while also not pushing him away from
the table.

6. (SBU) Jones said the EU shared US concerns about
Tashkent,s new NGO policy, and did not accept FM Safayev,s
explanation that the transfer of NGO monitoring authority
from the Foreign to the Interior Ministry was a technical
shift only. Irish COEST Deputy Chair Peter McIver said that
Safayev told the EU at Cooperation Council meeting on January
27 that the government made the change because the Foreign
Ministry could only assign one staffer to the NGO office,
while the Interior Ministry had more resources and could thus
do a better job. The EU found the assertion laughable, Jones
said, but their overall impression of Safayev had been
positive. The Council Secretariat,s Michael Swann said that
Human Rights Watch (HRW) had visited his office the day after
the Cooperation Council meetings. HRW claimed that Safayev,
while slick and well-spoken, was no better than the others,
and had been sent because Karimov thought his considerable
charm could woo the West. HRW said it would accuse the EU of
backpeddling if the Conclusions issued by January's meetings
were any softer than those of earlier EU-Uzbekistan meetings.

7. (SBU) Jones said the EU is still discussing how to handle
a resolution on Uzbekistan in the UNHRC this year. The EU
felt bound to call Tashkent on its abuses, but was also keen
not to do anything that might disrupt Uzbekistan's grudging
progress. Pascoe said the US shared the dilemma. He also
noted that Karimov has lately been asking for support on
education reform. Donors should consider how to take
advantage of this opening. Jones said the EU would consider
its options. Jones closed by observing that March and April
would be active months for Uzbekistan, with UNHRC and visits
to the country by the EBRD and Commissioner Patten (March
14). Jones and Pascoe agreed that it would be useful to
regroup and together assess next steps after these events.


8. (SBU) Dutch Deputy Director Renette van der Waal conveyed
a mixed EU assessment of Kyrgyz progress. The EU was pleased
with Kyrgyzstan's extension of the death penalty moratorium,
but thought that insufficient progress was being made on the
new election code. Juul said the EU would meet with Akayev
in March and would discuss progress on human rights, civil
society and economic reform. Pascoe agreed with the mixed
assessment, but said that the mix leaned more heavily to the
positive side than the negative. Kyrgyzstan is undertaking
some good reforms, he said, but the efforts are hampered by
Kyrgyzstan's poverty and lack of resources and experience.
Jones said she would task the German Embassy (representing EU
interests) and the soon to be opened Commission delegation in
Bishkek to begin coordinating pre-election activities as soon
as possible with the US Embassy.


9. (SBU) Pascoe said political stability and the drug trade
continued to be Tajikistans' biggest challenges. Our main
push is to help the country to normality. Pascoe also said
the US was pleased that the Commission had decided to open a
delegation in Dushanbe. Juul said the EU's upgraded dialogue
with Tajikistan would emphasize border controls and
counternarcotics. Swann echoed Juul's statement and pointed
out that countering drugs and organized crime was moving up
the EU's international agenda in light of the recently
adopted European Security Strategy.

China,s Central Asia Policy

10. (SBU) Pascoe fielded several questions from Troika
members keen to hear US views on China,s Central Asia
policy. In response, Pascoe said that China,s actions
appeared fairly transparent, and motivated by obvious
security and energy interests. Asked about the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO), Pascoe said that the SCO
appeared hobbled by a lack of financial support from anywhere
save Beijing. The US had expressed an interest in observer
status, but neither the Chinese nor the Russians seemed
enthusiastic about this. (COMMENT: The EU did not offer a
view of its own, seeming instead to be in search of
information that would help the EU determine if it should be
concerned about China,s increasing interest in its western
neighborhood. Several Troika members appeared relieved to
learn that the US did not view China,s engagement in Central
Asia, including the SCO, as a major threat. END COMMENT.)

Dushanbe minimize considered.


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