Cablegate: Portugal: Uk Ambassador On Energy Security,
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHLI #2527/01 2711536
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 281536Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6308
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
Friday, 28 September 2007, 15:36
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LISBON 002527
STATE FOR XXXXXXXXXXXX
EO 12958 DECL: 09/25/2017
TAGS PGOV, PREL, OFDP, PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGAL: UK AMBASSADOR ON ENERGY SECURITY,
RUSSIA, EU-AFRICA SUMMIT, AND MCCANN CASE
Classified By: XXXXXXXXXXXX FOR REASONS 1.4 (B),(D)
1. (C) On September 21, newly-arrived British Ambassador Alexander Wykeham Ellis informed Ambassador Hoffman that European concerns over Russia’s aggressive energy policies and the need for market competition were the driving forces behind the third EU energy liberalization package. He suggested that Russia’s position with its neighbors was guided by a self-proclaimed right to do “what it wants, when it wants” in its own neighborhood. Regarding Robert Mugabe’s participation in the proposed EU-Africa Summit, Ellis said the UK would not discourage other member states from participating if PM Brown stayed away. He doubted, however, if the Dutch, Irish, or Swedish would attend in Brown’s absence. Ellis also noted that it was the British police that developed the current evidence against Madeleine McCann’s parents in the high-profile case that has captured international attention. He informed the Ambassador that former British Ambassador John Buck had accepted a private-sector position at a UK gas company and that his departure had nothing to do with bilateral issues. END SUMMARY
RUSSIA’S ENERGY GAME IS COMING TO AN END
2. (C) According to Ellis, European concerns over Russia’s aggressive energy policies and the need for increased market competition were the driving forces behind the third EU energy liberalization package. He called Russia the greatest threat to European energy security and described its energy policies as a “game that’s coming to an end.” He argued that Gazprom’s sustainability depends on the European distribution network and that Putin, who is “always trying to make a point to Europe,” knew and understood this reality. Quoting a statement he had heard elsewhere, Ellis described Russia as “too strong, too weak”; suggesting that it was a bipolar society divided by feelings of strength and empowerment and internal fears of national failure.
RUSSIA, THE BIG BAD NEIGHBOR
3. (C) When questioned about Kosovo and Russia’s relationship with its neighbors, Ellis suggested that Russia’s position (on Kosovo) was driven by a self-proclaimed right to do “what it wants, when it wants” in its own neighborhood. Ellis did not believe that Russia had high regard for Serbia or any of its other neighbors, but rather it feared outside influences in the region. Reflecting on his position as Director of the EU Enlargement Team in London (2001-2003), Ellis noted that completing the 2004 EU enlargement phase had been difficult, and hypothesized that if the Russia of now were the Russia of then, the process would have been nearly impossible.
MUGABE...AND THE OTHER BAD GUYS
4. (C) According to Ellis, the UK’s position on Zimbabwe has not changed; if Robert Mugabe showed up, then Gordon Brown would not. However, he could not confirm if the British government would send any representatives. While he claimed that the UK had steered away from discouraging other member stated from attending, he noted the possibility that the Dutch, Irish, and Swedish leaders may follow Brown’s lead. Regarding Chavez and Ahmadinejad, Ellis commented that Portugal’s approach was centered on “engagement” -- even with the so-called bad guys. Ambassador Hoffman countered that “irrational people cannot be expected to behave rationally.” While acknowledging that the US position was justifiable, Ellis responded that there were sensitivities at play for Portugal, especially regarding Venezuela. (Note: There are approximately a half-million Portuguese living in Venezuela. End Note)
THE MADELEINE MCCANN CASE
5. (C) Madeleine McCann’s disappearance in the south of Portugal in May 2007 has generated international media attention with controversy surrounding the Portuguese-led police investigation and the actions of Madeleine’s parents. Without delving into the details of the case, Ellis admitted that the British police had developed the current evidence against the McCann parents, and he stressed that authorities from both countries were working cooperatively. He commented that the media frenzy was to be expected and was acceptable as long as government officials keep their comments behind closed doors.
6. (SBU) Ellis, a former school teacher, joined Britain’s
LISBON 00002527 002 OF 002
Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1990 and moved progressively up the chain to Ambassador. Lisbon was his first foreign tour as a diplomat, followed by postings in Brussels, Madrid and London. He has also served as Director of the EU Enlargement Team in London (2001-2003) and as adviser on energy policies and trade issues (2005-2007) under EC President Jose Barroso. XXXXXXXXXXXX Ellis informed Ambassador Hoffman that former British Ambassador John Buck had accepted a private-sector position with a British gas company and that his abrupt departure in August 2007 had nothing to do with bilateral issues.