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Cablegate: Eu-Russia Summit: Fm Tuomioja's Sidebars With

VZCZCXRO3856
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #1197 3351238
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 011238Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2789
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 4719
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 0190

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 001197

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2016
TAGS: PREL RU GG FI
SUBJECT: EU-RUSSIA SUMMIT: FM TUOMIOJA'S SIDEBARS WITH
BEZHUASHVILI AND LAVROV


Classified By: POLCHIEF Gregory Thome for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) On 29 November, DCM met with Finnish MFA Political
Director Pilvi-Sisko Vierros Villeneuve and discussed FM
Erkki Tuomioja's recent consultations with Georgian FM Gela
Bezhuashvili and Russian FM Sergei Lavrov on the margins of
the 24 November EU-Russia summit. Though Tuomioja's initial
goal of arranging a face to face meeting between the foreign
ministers did not come to fruition, his bilateral meetings
with each were productive and DCM welcomed his efforts.
Vierros Villeneuve stated that the Finns already sensed in
the conversation with Bezhuashvili a lowering of the
temperature from the Tbilisi side; Georgia was beginning to
speak less about Russian involvement in Georgian internal
affairs and more about Tbilisi engaging its separatist
regions.

2. (C) Vierros Villeneuve also noted two positive, though
unintended consequences of the recent escalation between
Georgia and Russia: the Russian ban on Georgian wine forced
Georgia to investigate other markets (including Finland), and
it has brought greater EU and international attention to
Georgia's "long-standing frustrations" with Moscow. Finland
in the future hopes to increase its level of involvement in
Georgia both under EU auspices and bilaterally through "soft
policies." Vierros Villeneuve was also encouraged by the
appointment of the new Georgian defense minister.

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3. (C) Vierros Villeneuve stated that Lavrov, in his
bilateral meeting with Tuomioja, reiterated Putin's recent
public statements on Georgia, and stated that Georgia's
separatist regions were an internal matter for Georgia -- not
an issue between Georgia and Russia. As with the Georgian
side, the Finns sensed a lowering of temperature and rhetoric
from Moscow, but believed Lavrov had been sidelined in
Georgian relations because of the Presidential
Administration's apparent level of involvement. "The issues
are not in the hands of Lavrov -- they are very much with
Putin," Vierros Villeneuve said. The Finnish Presidency also
sees the decrease in recent reports of harassment of
Georgians in Russia as a positive sign. Though Tuomioja's
attempts to bring the two sides together were unsuccessful,
the Finns appeared pleased with the results of their efforts.
WARE

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