Cablegate: Scenesetter for Your Visit to Portugal July 19-20

DE RUEHLI #1812/01 1921830
P 111830Z JUL 07

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 LISBON 001812




E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2017

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Adrienne O'Neal for reasons 1.4 (B) an
d (D).

1. (SBU) Madam Secretary:

Your visit -- at the beginning of Portugal's EU presidency --
is particularly timely and provides an excellent opportunity
to try to shape from the outset the Portuguese government's
priorities in a direction consistent with U.S. interests.

Portugal - Steadfast Ally

2. (SBU) Portugal, a founding member of NATO, is a steadfast
ally who has consistently stood by our side over the years
despite various changes in government. The President and
Prime Minister -- from opposing political parties -- each
regularly stress that trans-Atlantic relations are a pillar
of Portuguese foreign policy and that NATO is the primary
guarantor of European security.

3. (SBU) Portugal has provided virtually free access to
Portuguese air and seaports for military support operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan, with over three thousand flights a
year transiting Lajes Air Base in the Azores. Despite severe
budgetary constraints, it is engaged internationally on
numerous fronts with military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan
(where it lost one soldier), East Timor, Kosovo, Bosnia, and
Lebanon, and it is a member of the Proliferation Security
Initiative, the Container Security Initiative, and the Global
Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

EU presidency priorities

4. (C) While agreement on a treaty for EU reform vice a
Constitution was achieved during the German presidency,
detailed negotiation and signature of the treaty will fall to
the Portuguese presidency. This internal EU task will not
derail Portugal,s external policy goals, but it will absorb
scarce resources and high-level attention within the
Portuguese government, ensuring that we will need to motivate
Portugal on key issues.

5. (U) Foreign Minister Amado has noted that the EU,s
biggest foreign policy concern is along its southern and
southeastern borders, which are threatened by radical Islam
and poverty. He has proposed strengthening the EU,s ties to
Washington, Moscow, and Mediterranean countries to help
contain radical Islam in that region; this strategy includes
supporting Turkish accession to the EU, involving the EU more
closely in the Middle East Peace Process, and strengthening
the EU,s economic and cultural ties to the region through
the Barcelona Process.

6. (C) The Portuguese are expected to take a facilitative
approach, in stark contrast with the aggressive leadership of
Germany,s presidency. They will seek broad consensus on
most issues, dedicating their individual efforts to the few
issues they care about: a strategic partnership with Africa
and the Middle East processes noted above. Beyond those
issues, the Portuguese governmental structure is occupied
with a series of summits with Brazil, India, China, Russia,
Ukraine, and Africa.

7. (C) The just completed EU-Brazil Summit was successful in
establishing a long-term relationship with a significant
partner and energizing the debate in Europe on biofuels.
Portuguese interlocutors candidly told us that they did not
expect much and that the summit was only the first step
toward an EU-Brazil strategic partnership, but that they were
delighted with the outcome. We believe this may raise
Portuguese ambitions for the other summits.

Suggested areas of focus

8. (C) Kosovo: The Portuguese support the Ahtisaari proposal
but have no alternative to having the Russians on board.
They have seized on the idea of delaying the introduction of
a UN Resolution while further talks continue and have no
plans on how to react if the Kosovars declare independence
unilaterally. A/S Fried,s July 9 appeal to the Kosovars not
to do so pleased the Portuguese, but they need to understand
that leaving Kosovo in limbo is not an option and that the
Kosovars' patience -- even with US pressure -- is finite.

9. (C) Russia: Prime Minister Socrates visited Moscow
recently and was criticized in many quarters for his failure
to address aggressive behavior against allies Poland and
Estonia, human rights issues, or Moscow,s penchant for

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rhetoric and gamesmanship on energy and security. Indeed,
Socrates, advisors suggested to us following the trip that
we needed to tone down our own rhetoric in order to make
various negotiations more fruitful.

10. (C) Middle East: The Portuguese believe they have little
historical baggage in the region and thus can advance
progress on key issues. They have stressed many times and at
the highest levels that the Road Map is the way forward, but
that it needs to be reinvigorated. Foreign Minister Amado
backed away from the recent Mediterranean FMs, letter to
Quartet Representative Tony Blair -- which he signed --
stating that &the Road Map has failed,8 and a senior
advisor was dismissive of the letter,s text, saying neither
the EU nor the Portuguese position has changed. Amado has
traveled extensively to the Middle East and was one of the
first to call for a special session of EU Foreign Ministers
at the onset of last summer,s hostilities in Lebanon.
Portugal was prepared to commit forces to any potential
peacekeeping force, even before the structure and sponsorship
of such a force had been established. Portugal eventually
sent a company of Army engineers to help with reconstruction.
Amado told us that he sees Iran as the greatest threat since
WWII, and his ministry has been supportive of tough measures
in light of Iran's refusal to halt nuclear enrichment.

11. (C) Afghanistan: Portuguese Special Forces and other
troops serve without caveat and are engaged in heavy
fighting. The current company is scheduled to depart in
February 2008 and replacements have not yet been designated
or funded. The Portuguese stress that they are with us in
Afghanistan for the duration of NATO operations, so
congratulations for their current contributions are in order
as well as encouragement to continue. Portugal has
contributed $2 million in assistance; however, they are
financially over-stretched and have not done more because of

12. (C) Iraq: Portugal contributed gendarme trainers for the
NTM-I police training mission. Portugal recently downsized
its diplomatic presence in Baghdad because of cost (its
operations were four times as expensive as any other
embassy), but let us know far in advance and wanted to
coordinate what they said publicly as they were sensitive to
the political ramifications.

13. (C) Africa: Portugal has a special relationship with
Africa, particularly with its former colonies. It intends to
host an EU-Africa Summit, although it has deferred diplomatic
conflict over the Zimbabwe question, even though the UK, the
Netherlands, and others may not attend at the head of
government level should Mugabe attend. Although the
Portuguese have led the development of an action plan between
the EU and African Union, the negative ramifications of
Mugabe's presence in Lisbon could overshadow any

Particular Bilateral Points

14. (SBU) Portugal,s interest in Africa for the EU
presidency is a good opportunity to underscore the progress
in US-Portugal cooperation to strengthen security and
stability in Africa. When Foreign Minister Amado was still
Defense Minister, he strongly encouraged trilateral
cooperation between the US, Portugal, and individual African
countries on security issues in Africa. Since that time, we
have conducted joint demining training in Guinea-Bissau and
begun developing an HIV prevention program among African
armed forces. We hope to include the Portuguese in
peacekeeping training in Mozambique and Angola under the
African Contingency Operations training and Assistance
(ACOTA) program and a joint State-Defense team from
Washington hopes to visit Lisbon this fall to discuss further

15. (S/NF) Amado agreed to allow the repatriation of
prisoners through Lajes Air Base on a case-by-case basis
under limited circumstances. This was a difficult decision,
given the sustained criticism by Portuguese media and leftist
elements of his own party of the government,s handling of
the CIA rendition flights controversy. Amado,s agreement
has never been made public. The Attorney General,s Office
was forced to review a dossier of news clippings and
unsubstantiated allegations regarding CIA rendition
operations through Portugal provided by a member of the
European Parliament. The AG,s report should be released in
the very near future. Although we cannot predict its
conclusions, government insiders and legal scholars have told
us there was no useful or prosecutable information in the

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Prime Minister Socrates

16. (C) Socrates is a telegenic and charismatic leader, who
worked hard to improve his English in advance of the EU
presidency. He relies on advice from a small circle of
advisors. He is a very moderate Socialist who has been
successful at co-opting or marginalizing the leftists in his
party. He also aggressively pursued his domestic agenda
before assuming the EU presidency, achieving difficult labor
and social security reforms and reducing Portugal,s budget
deficit to near EU-mandated levels.

Foreign Minister Amado

17. (C) You met with Amado last October in Washington and
have spoken with him in person and on the telephone several
times since. He has been a great friend of the US, both in
his previous capacity as Minister of Defense and now as
Foreign Minister. He is even-tempered, thoughtful, and
low-key, and regularly seeks opportunities to coordinate
policy with the US. He places great importance on presenting
a united public front, whether within the EU, NATO or with
the US. If there are differences, he prefers to discuss them
discreetly behind closed doors.

President Cavaco Silva

18. (C) Cavaco Silva is the most popular politician in
Portugal, even though his center-right party badly trails
Socrates, Socialist Party in polls. Although the Portuguese
presidency does not wield the executive power of the US
presidency, the position is not ceremonial. Cavaco Silva is
commander in chief of the armed forces and must approve all
military deployments and chairs the Council of State, which
handles all constitutional issues. Cavaco Silva considers
former President George H.W. Bush a personal friend, with
whom he developed a close relationship during his years as
Prime Minister from 1985-95. The elder President Bush
attended Cavaco Silva,s presidential inauguration in March
2006. Cavaco Silva was displeased that he did not get an
Oval Office meeting with President George W. Bush during his
recent visit to Washington to open a Smithsonian exhibition
of Portuguese art, and he declined the former President
Bush,s offer to visit Kennebunkport.


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