Cablegate: Scenesetter for Eur Das Pekala's Visit to Helsinki, October

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Summary and Introduction

1. Half way through its EU Presidency, Finland has proven to be the
behind-the-scenes negotiator we expected rather than the more
out-in-front leader we might have preferred. Often valuing
consensus above all, the Finns have been unusually content to see
the Commission take the lead on many issues of transatlantic
importance including Passenger Name Records (PNR) and the High Level
Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable
Development. This has at times caused friction in our relationship,
which has been exacerbated by President Halonen's and FM Tuomioja's
unhelpful statements to the press, especially concerning the Middle

2. The Middle East Crisis has further distracted the Finns from the
agenda they had hoped to implement during their presidency -- an
agenda that held the potential to advance US interests and goals in
many areas, including Darfur, the Middle East, Kosovo, Cuba, Russia,
Belarus and Asia. At this point, US goals -- both bilaterally and
for the EU Presidency -- would be best advanced were the GOF return
to that stated agenda. We should continue to support Finnish
efforts to work quietly behind the scenes to facilitate U.S. - EU
cooperation, while recognizing that Finland will be reluctant to
embrace U.S. initiatives that could put it on a collision course
with counterpart EU governments or the Brussels bureaucracy. (End

While You're Here...

3. While the bulk of your time will be spent at the two-day Chief of
Mission program, we have scheduled meetings with Political Director
Pilvi-Sisko Vierros-Villeneuve and DG for the Department of the
Americas and Asia Elina Kalkku. We have also scheduled some
in-house events with Embassy staff and an on-the-record press event.
During your visit we recommend you:

--thank Finnish interlocutors for the role they played on Lebanon
and Iran and encourage continued constructive engagement with the
U.S. going forward;

--welcome Finnish participation in NATO operations - particularly
notable given that Finland is not a NATO member;

--encourage Finnish efforts to promote democracy in Russia, Belarus,
Ukraine and the Caucuses;

--thank the Finns for working effectively to ensure that the HLD
achieves an appropriate balance between energy and environment.

Middle East/Iran/Afghanistan

4. Despite his occasionally unhelpful comments in the media, FM
Tuomioja actually played an important behind-the-scenes role by
supporting the French negotiations with the U.S. that produced UNSCR
1701; by pressing larger EU member states to make significant troop
contributions; and by pressing domestically for a Finnish
contribution of 240 troops. He delivered tough messages to Syria
and Iran, warning them not to act as "spoilers" of the peace
process. The Finns have also maintained a hard yet constructive
line on Iran, and they remain supportive of UNSC sanctions if Iran
does not halt enrichment and come to the negotiating table.
Although not a member of the coalition in Iraq, Finland has
supported EU efforts there and sent a trainer to Jordan to train
Iraqi police.

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The HLD on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development
--------------------------------------------- ----------

5. The U.S. and EU have struggled to shape the agenda of the first
High Level Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable
Development. The U.S. has pushed for a meeting that would seek to
find synergies between energy policy goals and actions on addressing
climate change, while the Commission has resisted this approach,
preferring the more traditional, yet often unhelpful discussion that
has characterized climate change talks in the past. Finland
supports our approach, but ever mindful of it what it believes is
its duty to suppress national goals in support of EU coordination,
it has pressed quietly behind the scenes, and at times has seemed
bullied by the Commission. You will want to welcome the co-chair
role they have assigned their Minister of Trade and Industry, and
encourage them to facilitate high-level German Ministry of Energy
participation in order to empower fresh perspectives on this issue.

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Peacekeeping and NATO/PfP

6. Although not a NATO member (and most likely not to embrace
membership in the near future), the GOF is very proud of its close
cooperation with NATO through PfP and its substantial participation
in NATO operations. We recommend that you tell the Finns that
Washington recognizes and appreciates the Finnish tendency to "punch
above its weight" in international peacekeeping operations. Finland
has some 350 troops under NATO command in Kosovo and another 100
ISAF troops in Afghanistan. It has declined our request to donate
lethal weapons to Afghanistan, citing "legal considerations." Its
other commitments include EU operations in Bosnia, and soon,
Lebanon. Although a Finnish officer was killed in Lebanon during
the recent conflict, notably, almost no one in the Finnish
government, opposition, or media used this as an excuse to oppose
GOF efforts to send 240 troops to the enhanced UNIFIL operation.
Portions of the GOF appear interested in the evolution of the
"enhanced PfP" proposal that will be discussed in Riga.

Democracy Promotion

7. In the past, the Finns played a key role in helping the Baltic
states make the transition and necessary reforms for EU and NATO
membership. Now, they are beginning to turn their attention further
eastward. While promoting democracy in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and
the Caucuses is more challenging than the Baltics were, we are
encouraged by several signs, including Finnish support for NGOs in
Russia; political support for opposition candidates and civil
society in Belarus; and President Halonen's contacts with
pro-democracy leaders in Georgia and Ukraine. Your encouragement of
these efforts - and expressions of our high hopes for the upcoming
EU-Ukraine Summit and EU Head of State informal (which Putin will
attend as a guest) will help keep the GOF involved in advancing the
Frontiers of Freedom.


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