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Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeing with New Foreign Affairs

VZCZCXRO8440
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHYG
DE RUEHTL #0519/01 2250717
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130717Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0065
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TALLINN 000519

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
FOR EUR/NB -- KATHERINE GARRY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EINV EN
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEEING WITH NEW FOREIGN AFFAIRS
COMMITTEE CHAIR


1. (U) Summary. On August 8, the Ambassador hosted a
luncheon with Sven Mikser, Member of Parliament (MP) and
the new Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC).
The two discussed Estonia and the European Union's
relations with Russia, Estonia's contributions in the
global war on terror, and ideas on how to strengthen U.S.-
Estonian relations. Mikser reiterated Estonia's
appreciation for U.S. support during its recent crisis with
Russia, and reaffirmed the trends we have seen in
Parliament: firm support for Afghanistan and division over
Iraq. Mikser believes U.S.-Estonian relations are strong,
and is receptive to new ideas to strengthen the
relationship. End Summary.

Russia
------

2. (SBU) From the outset of the Ambassador's August 8
introductory meeting with Sven Mikser, Social Democrat MP,
FAC Chairman, and a former Estonian Defense Minister (2002-
2003), the discussion focused on Russia. Mikser said that
since his election to the post in April, relations with
Russia have dominated his Committee's activities and
attention. Mikser opined that Moscow's "over-reaction" to
the GOE's movement of the World War II-era Bronze Soldier
monument revealed the true colors of the Putin regime to a
wider European audience. While this has generated more
discussion on a common EU stance vis--vis Russia, Mikser
admitted that he has personally seen very little substance.
Russia's strategy to divide EU members continues, and is
highly effective when Russian gas and oil are involved.
"During the German EU Presidency, Berlin said many times
that we need a common EU energy security policy," Mikser
said, "but the Germans continue to push the Nordstream
pipeline to guarantee their share of Russian gas." Mikser
repeated the concerns of energy experts who believe
Russia's lack of investment in upstream infrastructure will
eventually lead to a drop in Russian energy production.
Mikser believes Berlin most likely shares this fear, which,
in his opinion, would explain Chancellor Merkel's continued
support for Nordstream as an insurance policy to safeguard
Germany's share of Russian gas in case of a drop in future
production.

Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) When Parliament reconvenes in the second week of
September, all three of Estonia's foreign mission mandates
(e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo) will need to be
renewed to avoid termination by the end of 2007. Mikser
did not foresee any difficulty renewing the Afghanistan and
Kosovo missions, but admitted that Iraq would be a
contentious vote. Center Party, the largest opposition
party in Parliament, and the People's Union Party have
already indicated that they will furiously oppose the Iraq
mission mandate renewal when it comes to a vote. However,
Mikser said that as long as there is another United Nations
Security Council Resolution on Iraq, he believes the
mission will be renewed. While he admitted that the Social
Democrats have been divided over Estonian troops serving in
Iraq, he felt the majority of Social Democrat MPs would
honor its coalition government agreement, ensuring the GOE
has the votes it needs.

U.S.-Estonian Relations
-----------------------

4. (SBU) Both the Ambassador and Mikser agreed that U.S.-
Estonian relations remain strong and healthy. Mikser said
that U.S. support during Estonia's crisis with Russia was
particularly important and deeply appreciated by the
Estonian public which felt besieged. In particular, he
said the visit by Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
to the White House in June could not have come at a better
time. The Ambassador said that Estonia's crisis (e.g.,
economic sanctions by Russia, cyber attacks, its embassy in
Moscow under siege) has raised the country's profile with
the U.S. public. The Ambassador suggested that the GOE use
this higher profile as an opportunity to promote its
advances in information technology, good governance, market
reforms, and business savvy within the U.S. to lure more
U.S. investment in Estonia and promote Estonian business
opportunities in the U.S. Mikser was highly receptive to
this suggestion, and invited him to address the entire FAC
later in the fall to further explore how to strengthen and
deepen U.S.-Estonian relations.

5. (SBU) Comment. Several of the issues discussed at this
meeting will be among the most pressing foreign policy

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matters that Parliament will wrestle with this fall.
Mikser's assessment of the prospects for renewal of
Estonia's mission mandates reaffirmed the trends we have
seen in Parliament: firm support for Afghanistan and
division over Iraq.

PHILLIPS

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