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Cablegate: Spain: Ambassador O'donnell Engages Spain On

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

UNCLAS MADRID 002344

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT PASS TO EUR/WE
EUR/OHI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN: AMBASSADOR O'DONNELL ENGAGES SPAIN ON
HOLOCAUST ISSUES


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On June 10, following the OSCE's Conference
in Cordoba on Anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance,
Ambassador Edward O'Donnell, U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust
Issues, met with Ambassador Ana Salomon Perez, the Spanish
envoy for Jewish Affairs, to discuss Spanish membership in
the Task Force on International Cooperation on Holocaust
Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF), the claim of AMCIT
Claude Cassirer to a Pissarro painting in the Thyssen museum,
and the USG Global Anti-Semitism Report. Spain offered to
send a delegation to observe the ITF Warsaw plenary to learn
more about ITF's mission and requirements. Ambassador
Salomon also said that the GOS may be able to exercise
"political will" to resolve the painting issue in a manner
that is amenable to both sides, although many legal obstacles
remain to resolution of the issue. Finally, Ambassador
Salomon noted steps taken by the GOS in regard to
anti-Semitic incidents within Spain. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On June 10, Ambassador Edward O'Donnell, U.S. Special
Envoy for Holocaust Issues, met MFA Envoy for Jewish Affairs
Ambassador Ana Salomon Perez. Ambassador O'Donnell opened by
explaining the purpose of the Task Force on International
Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research,
outlining the process for membership and suggesting that the
GOS send an observer to the next plenary session in Warsaw
the last week of June. Ambassador Salomon responded that the
GOS will speak to the Spanish Jewish Community about the
issue and would likely send an observer delegation.

3. (SBU) Ambassador O'Donnell also addressed the ongoing
issue between AMCIT Claude Cassirer, the descendant of a
Holocaust victim, and the Thyssen Museum, located in Madrid,
over possession of the Camille Pissarro painting, "Rue Saint
Honore". He suggested that the GOS should encourage the
museum to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the
dispute, possibly via binding arbitration, and noted that
Spain had joined the consensus to the 1998 Washington
Conference principles, which recommended alternate dispute
resolution mechanisms to resolve these issues. Ambassador
Salomon responded that the GOS had spoken with the museum on
this issue and ventured that it would not be resolved easily.
She said that the museum wanted to retain the painting in
its collection and noted that the legal process would be
lengthy, as Cassirer would need to prove ownership. She
added that the rights of the museum, which purchased the
piece in good faith, had to be protected. In addition,
Ambassador Salomon said that the GOS believes that the
American court system does not have jurisdiction in this case
and that Spanish law would apply, as the painting was present
in Spain. Finally, Ambassador Salomon noted that the Thyssen
Foundation is private and that the government could not force
it to provide compensation without a judicial resolution in
regard to possession of the painting. As a result, she
believes that the GOS will need to exercise "political will"
to find a solution and that Foreign Minister Moratinos had
already contacted Cultural Minister Carmen Calvo on the issue.

4. (U) Ambassador O'Donnell then explained the process behind
the Global Report on Anti-Semitism and the need to work
together to fight anti-Semitism and prevent future genocides.
He noted that follow-up to the Cordoba Conference should be
at the expert level by all OSCE participating states. He
also stated the U.S. support for the mandates of its special
representatives and attacking the problem via education,
legislation and law enforcement. Ambassador Salomon
responded with examples of GOS action against anti-Semitic
activity and expressed an interest in further communication
on this topic.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Ambassador Salomon clearly seems to want to
take an active approach to her Holocaust issues portfolio in
general. Previously, Spanish authorities and the museum had
been unwilling to engage in discussion about the status of
the Pissarro painting. This meeting indicates that the GOS
may now recognize that it has a role to play in resolving the
issue. END COMMENT

6. (U) This cable has been cleared by Ambassador O'Donnell.

MANZANARES

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