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Cablegate: Scenesetter/Visit of Baden-Wuerttemberg M-P Oettinger

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
SUBJECT: Scenesetter/Visit of Baden-Wuerttemberg M-P Oettinger

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.

1. (U) SUMMARY: On November 14-15, Baden-Wuerttemberg Minister-
President Guenther Oettinger (CDU/Christian Democrats) will make
his first official visit to Washington. A political moderate,
Oettinger leads one of Germany's largest and economically most
successful states. Oettinger is favored to win re-election in
March 2006. END SUMMARY.

Baden-Wuerttemberg: An Economic Powerhouse

2. (U) Baden-Wuerttemberg (Germany's third-largest state) has the
world's 17th largest economy with a larger GDP (EUR 307
billion/2002) than most European Union members including Belgium,
Sweden, and Austria. The state's per-capita GDP (EUR 28,900) is
surpassed in the EU only by Luxembourg, Denmark, and Ireland.
Home to DaimlerChrysler, Porsche, and Bosch (the world's largest
automotive supplier), the state is one of the world's leading
centers for automotive technology and production. The state also
claims to be Europe's leading region for high technology (its
four counties Stuttgart, Tuebingen, Karlsuhe, and Freiburg rank
first, third, fourth and seventh respectively among Europe's high-
tech production and development sites according to Eurostat).

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Focus on Strengthening Ties to the U.S.

3. (SBU) In a recent meeting with the Consul General, Oettinger
reiterated his commitment to improving German-American relations
and criticized the foreign policy of the outgoing Schroeder
government. Oettinger said that for 60 years, the transatlantic
partnership and European integration were twin pillars of German
foreign policy; under Schroeder, the GOG had allowed its
relationship with the U.S. to deteriorate and had undermined
European unity by over-emphasizing relations with France and
Russia. Oettinger expressed hope that a CDU-led government would
improve relations with all of Germany's neighbors and renew the
transatlantic friendship.

Political Background

4. (SBU) Like neighboring Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg has had
conservative governments for decades. In April 2005, Oettinger
became Minister-President (analogous to a U.S. governor, but with
influence on the federal level as well). Oettinger has good ties
to Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel and political insiders
expect Oettinger to be active on the national level. Privately,
Oettinger has expressed concern that a grand coalition government
will be unstable since a weakened SPD could still change tack and
threaten to form a "red/red/green" coalition with the Greens and
the far-left.

5. (U) Voters in Baden-Wuerttemberg will go to the polls on March
26, 2006. Observers favor Oettinger's CDU/Free Democrat (FDP)
coalition government for re-election. Seen as a middle-of-the-
road, modernizing voice within the party, Oettinger aims to make
inroads into urban constituents who now vote for Green or SPD
candidates. Oettinger is a tactician rather than an ideologue;
as early as 1992, he suggested that the CDU could go into
coalition with the Greens.

Visit to the U.S.

6. (U) Oettinger seeks to strengthen the state's economic and
cultural ties to the United States. Oettinger -- who was quick
to offer aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina -- is avidly pro-
American (as a young conservative, he toured the U.S. as part of
an International Visitor program for promising German leaders).
From November 13-18, he will travel with a 70-member delegation
to Washington, New York, and Detroit. The trip will highlight
the state's large investments in the United States; Oettinger
recently noted that automotive suppliers including Bosch, ZF
(Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen, a transmission producer), and
Behr (air conditioners) are planning to double their production
in the U.S. The auto industry is a focal point for the trip
(NOTE: Oettinger is a close confidante of incoming
DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche -- END NOTE).

7. (U) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Berlin.


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