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Cablegate: Netherlands/Eu: Fm Bot On China, Turkey,

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 THE HAGUE 003166

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2014
TAGS: PREL MARR CH RS NL EUN
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/EU: FM BOT ON CHINA, TURKEY,
ENLARGEMENT, RUSSIA/UKRAINE, MIDDLE EAST, AND IRAN


Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR CLIFFORD M. SOBEL FOR REASONS 1
.4 (B AND D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: During a one and one half hour discussion
with Ambassador Sobel on December 2, Dutch Foreign Minister
Bernard Bot laid out his priorities for the last few weeks of
the Dutch EU presidency. Bot stated categorically that he
will not lift the Chinese Arms Embargo, but predicted
(again) that Luxembourg would. He claimed that getting a
yes on Turkey will be the most important legacy of the
Dutch presidency, but stressed that this will not happen
unless Turkey signs the Ankara Customs Union Agreement
protocol on Cyprus at the eleventh hour on December 17. He
faulted the Commission for the lack of progress on Romanian
and Croatian accession talks. With regard to Russia, Bot
said Putin's debating skills during the U.S.-EU summit were
impressive but worried that Russian great game thinking
will continue to thwart closer U.S.-EU cooperation in Ukraine
and other parts of the new neighborhood. The EU will
remain engaged in Ukraine despite Russian pressure, but Bot
expected a new election would likely produce the same
(fraudulent) results. Bot is proud that he was able to bring
Israelis and Palestinians together at the EUROMED conference
and intends to stay engaged in the Middle East after the
conclusion of the Dutch Presidency. Finally, Bot described
the EU-Iran agreement as flawed, but better than nothing:
half and egg is better than a shell. END SUMMARY.

CHINA ARMS EMBARGO: I WILL NOT LIFT
--------------------------------------

2. (C) Bot stated that the Chinese have stepped up the
pressure to have the embargo lifted before the end of the
year. He said he recently told Chinese Foreign Minister Li
on the phone that I will not lift the embargo. (Note:
This is the first time Bot has stated this categorically.)
Ambassador Sobel asked about the language on a positive
signal we understood would be included in the EU-China
summit statement on December 8; Bot acknowledged that the
statement would include language indicating that the EU was
working toward lifting the embargo but would not go
further. Bot denied that the statement would include any
conditions on lifting, but stressed that the EU would
appeal for action on Human Rights and make clear that the
toolbox and strengthened code of conduct must be in place
before lift. (Grinning, Bot said he told Li to blame the
French if their refusal to make concessions on the toolbox
prevented the lifting of the embargo.) According to Bot, Li
said that the Chinese would ratify the International
Convention on Civil and Political Rights soon, but did not
want to do it with a gun to their heads.

3. (C) Asked about the current dynamic within the EU, Bot
said that the Baltics had recently become more active in
expressing their concerns about lifting the embargo at this
time, along with the Danes, Swedes, and Czechs. Bot
predicted, however, that the embargo would almost certainly
be lifted during the Luxembourg presidency, probably in May
or June 2005, in response to pressure from China and France.


TURKEY: I WANT A YES
----------------------

4. (C) Bot told Ambassador Sobel that he is determined to get
a yes for Turkey at the December 17 Council meeting,
asserting that this is the most important thing he hopes to
accomplish this year. He stated categorically that the
Council decision will use the October 6 Commission report
language on open-ended negotiations: the Austrians, he
said, will not get what they want. On the other hand, Bot
argued that Turkey must eventually agree to sign the
protocol to the Ankara Agreement (effectively recognizing
Cyprus) -- which he expected them to do at the absolutely
last minute on December 17 or early December 18 (after
midnight) -- or there is no deal. Bot passed this message
to Turkish FM Gul several times over the past few weeks, he
said, but Gul so far remained adamant that Turkey would not
sign. Shrugging, Bot said that if that remained the Turkish
position there was nothing he could do as this was
non-negotiable; if Turkey did sign, he added, then Cyprus
would come under enormous pressure to drop all other
additional demands.

5. (C) Bot asked for U.S. assistance in convincing Turkey to
suspend military operations in the Aegean, at least through
December 17, as they were providing a pretext for Greece to
agitate against Turkish accession. According to Bot, Turkish
PM Erdogan had told him recently that he could not stop the
flights because he did not control the military -- an
assertion Bot found disturbing. Asked by Ambassador Sobel
about a possible date for starting negotiations with Turkey,
Bot said that it would almost certainly be late 2005; he
noted that in public statements he sometimes added or early
2006 as a sop to the French, but did not believe it.


ROMANIA/CROATIA: BAD VIBES
---------------------------

6. (C) Bot expressed frustration with the slow progress on
Romania and Croation accession. Romania was not even close
to accession, he said, largely because of its lack of
progress on competition area; while Croatia's failure to hand
over Gotovina to the ICTY was a serious problem. Bot said
that he did not want the Dutch presidency to be remembered
primarily for saying no to multiple candidates, and was
talking intensively with the Commission to find a way to move
forward.

RUSSIA/UKRAINE: PUTIN WINS ON POINTS
-------------------------------------

7. (C) In response to a question from Ambassador Sobel, Bot
denied that the lunch discussion on Ukraine during the recent
EU-Russia summit had been as contentious as reported by some.
Bot stressed that Putin had been polite but tough and very
well prepared. Compared to his own Prime Minister, Bot
continued, Putin came across as a strong debater who could
win on points but still fail to convince his audience
because his premises were all wrong. Putin had argued, for
example, that the EU should stay out of Ukraine just as
Russia has, and suggested that Ukraine's ties to Russia
meant it would never be a Western European state. With
regard to next steps, Bot said that he had deliberately
chosen to let Solana take the lead for the EU (despite
pressure from the Poles to take a more active personal role)
since the Commission was inherently less threatening to
Russia than the EU presidency. Bot expected that the
Ukrainian supreme court decision would lay the basis for
either a re-run of the election or completely new elections,
and speculated that the Russian line in the sand would be
for the EU to recognize Yuschenko as a winner without one of
these steps occurring first. In either case, however, Bot
concluded glumly that the same forces that rigged the last
election would probably do so again unless the West could
come up with 25,000 monitors. While the EU had been
relatively united so far, Bot doubted that consensus could be
maintained over the long term if the cause appeared lost.


8. (C) With regard to the four common spaces, both sides
agreed at the summit to set May 2005 as the target for
concluding agreement, but Bot was skeptical that this would
be achieved, especially with regard to external relations.
Russia, he said, is still operating on the basis of 19th
century Great Game thinking, while the EU is trying to be a
good neighbor.

MIDDLE EAST: STAYING IN THE PICTURE
------------------------------------

9. (C) Bot confirmed that the Shaath-Shalom-Bot meeting on
the margins of the November 29 EUROMED meetings had been very
constructive. Bot had told both parties that the EU would
refrain from discussing final status issues provided they
made a real commitment to successful Palestinian elections
and related near-term steps. (In response to a question from
the Ambassador, Bot said that he had restrained Solana and
some Arab delegations from seeking to restart a discussion on
final status issues during the dinner by spelling out this
agreement.) The mood of that meeting had helped set a
positive tone for the dinner, which Bot contrasted favorably
to the previous EUROMED dinner in which soup and plates
flew. The EU is committed to providing funds, logistical
support, and observers for the Palestinian elections but is
also seeking support from countries in the region.

10. (C) Bot was eager to coordinate EU efforts with the U.S.
and expressed frustration that more information on U.S.
near-term planning was not available. He did not think he
would be able to attend the December 11 Forum for the Future
meeting in Rabat because he would be attending Prince
Bernhard's funeral, but stressed that he intended to remain
engaged on the Middle East even after the end of the Dutch EU
presidency. (Note: On December 3, Bot told the Ambassador he
would like to attend the Forum for the Future and intended to
ask the Prime Minister if he could be excused from the
funeral, but stressed that the Prime Minister was unlikely to
approve.) Both the Palestinians and Israelis, he said,
appreciated the Netherlands' balanced approach (especially
when compared to some other European governments) and had
asked him to stay involved. Bot said he had discussed this
with his Luxembourg counterpart who also supported leaving
much of this portfolio in Dutch hands.
describing his commitment to

IRAN: HALF AN EGG BETTER THAN A SHELL
--------------------------------------

11. (C) Ambassador Sobel asked Bot if he thought the EU-3
agreement with Iran would hold; Bot replied in the
affirmative. He readily acknowledged that the agreement was
not perfect, but noted that China had made clear its
intention to veto any critical resolution in the Security
Council, so that route was not practical. Citing a Dutch
proverb, Bot argued that half an egg is better than a whole
shell. The agreement would at least slow down the Iranians,
he said, and could lead to a more significant IAEA monitoring
regime in the future.

COMMENT:
-------

12. (C) Bot was confident and decisive throughout the
meeting. Although still looking for consensus within the EU,
he also appeared comfortable choosing -- when forced to make
a choice -- a position in favor of the transatlantic agenda
over the objections of EU partners, as in the case of China.
His irritation with France was palpable; at one point, Bot
told the Ambassador in confidence that it would be a big
mistake to reward Chirac's behavior with a presidential
visit or other post-election gesture without guaranteed
deliverables.
RUSSEL

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