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Cablegate: Pdas Volker's Sept. 13 - 14 Visit to Finland


DE RUEHHE #0725/01 2680929
R 250929Z SEP 07




E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2017


1. (C) SUMMARY: PDAS Volker visited Helsinki Sept. 13-14
for wide-ranging discussions with FM Kanerva, with MFA
and MOD officials, and with senior advisors to the
President and Prime Minister. Bilateral discussions
focused on Finland's intention to increase its
contributions in Afghanistan (septel) and in Kosovo;
OSCE issues (election monitoring, CFE, Kazakhstan,
Finland's priorities as chairman, and Russia's
behavior); Russia; and NATO and the NRF. PDAS Volker
also held three very successful Public Diplomacy events
(see reports in PD channels). End Summary.

2. (C) Volker raised US views on the current situation in
Kosovo and possible next steps in separate meetings with
Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva, State Secretary to the
Prime Minister Riisto Volanen, and Kosovo Office
Director Juha Ottman. Ottman noted that Finland is very
pessimistic about what will occur after the Troika-
sponsored negotiating period closes on Dec. 10. There
is a "growing realism" within the EU that Russia will
block a UNSC resolution on final status and the Union
needs to prepare itself for what comes next. Ottman
suggested that a "movement toward critical mass" may be
emerging within the EU in favor of recognizing Kosovo
should Pristina declare unilateral independence. This
would involve the difficult task of convincing the MS
that oppose recognition to "constructively abstain," but
it increasingly appears to be the only way forward.
Ottman added that the US would have to play a key role
in using its influence to ensure that no violence breaks
out among the Kosovars. He also noted that some EU MS
have suggested again postponing the deadline from Dec.
10 to sometime in Spring -- perhaps after the Russian
election. However, "for Finland, Dec. 10 is the key

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3. (C) Volker emphasized to Ottman -- and later to FM
Kanerva -- that "Dec. 10 is the deadline" and that this
is not negotiable. More time will not make a
difference, and in the absence of a UNSCR, the fall-back
must be UNSCR 1244 and the Ahtisaari recommendations.
He agreed with the Finns' assessment that the future of
KFOR and the ESDP mission will be jeopardized without a
clear path toward final status, adding that the decision
to give the Serbs (and Russians) more time has already
hurt the process. Recognition of a Kosovar independence
declaration might be the only way to ensure stability,
and it is clearly something the US and EU must come
together on, he concluded.

4. (C) Volker also emphasized to Kanerva that if
violence were to break out, KFOR's mandate needs no
changes; if KFOR acts decisively to protect life and
property, its current mandate is sufficient. Kanerva
agreed. The FM was also pleased to report that the GOF
will re-assume a framework nation role within KFOR at
the beginning of 2008 and increase its troop
contribution from 400 to more than 450.

Finland, NATO, and the NRF
5. (SBU) Volker's visit occurred in the midst of
widespread political debate in Finland over whether to
join the NATO Response Force (NRF), and Kanerva,
Volanen, MFA Political Director Pilvi-Sisko Vierros-
Villeneuve, MOD Policy Planning Director Pauli Jarvenpaa
and former Finnish Ambassador to NATO Antti Sierla all
raised the issue with him. Kanerva noted that Finland
has a six-month EU Battlegroup commitment beginning in
January, which may include a deployment to Chad.
However, the FM fully supports joining the NRF as well.
He said he hopes to join Sweden in making a formal
commitment this spring, and then work toward actual
troop participation by 2010. Vierros-Villeneuve, Sierla
and Volanen all confirmed in separate meetings that
there is strong support for NRF participation across the
government, although as usual in Finland public opinion
lags somewhat behind. PM Matti Vanhanen wants
government consensus on the matter by January.

6. (SBU) Volker acknowledged that there have been some
"mixed signals" from certain Allies regarding Partners'
potential role in NRF operations. He explained NATO
welcomes partners, but does not want to place the NRF in
a position of having to rely on them. He noted that in
joining the NRF now, Finland would be "jumping on a
moving train," but urged the GOF to nevertheless make a
positive statement of commitment soon. NATO is moving
toward rethinking the NRF's size, structure and uses,
with an eye toward "deploying in pieces" -- something
that should actually suit quite well the role Partners
like Finland are looking to play. Kanerva, Volanen and
Sierla welcomed this information, noting that the "mixed
signals" had fueled the anti-NRF arguments of Finnish
NATO skeptics within the government, but that Volker's
clarifications would help them move the issue forward.

Finland's 2008 OSCE Chairmanship
7. (C) Volker discussed a range of OSCE issues with
Kanerva and separately with Aleksi Harkonen, Director of
the MFA's OSCE Task Force.

-- Kazak Chairmanship: Harkonen said that the GOF has
no national position yet; however, Finland is
leaning toward a "sympathetic view" of the GOK's
2009 bid because it does not want the issue to
polarize the OSCE. Volker pushed back, noting that
Kazakhstan had a clear set of standards to meet but
has instead moved in the wrong direction, and that
the US strongly favors the Greece-Lithuania-
Kazakhstan 2009-2010-2011 "package" approach.
Germany now appears prepared to support this, and
Volker urged the Finns, upon assuming the chair, to
do so as well. Kanerva said that this three-country
package "won't be enough for those who are promoting
Kazakhstan," prompting Volker to suggest that Finland
and the Western democracies may need to think
creatively about what they can achieve in a "non-
consensus" environment.
-- CFE: Volker said that Russia is going down the wrong
road on the CFE and abusing the OSCE's "consensus"
mechanisms to force an "adapted treaty." The OSCE
must not reward this behavior by producing a
compromise that is undesirable to Western
democracies but "acceptable to Moscow" simply for
the sake of consensus. Harkonen acknowledged
Volker's point, but noted that hammering out
something more suitable will be difficult,
especially for countries like Finland that are not
members of the CFE.
-- Missile Defense: Harkonen noted that Finland
supported "discussions" of MD at the OSCE, so long
as "decisions are made elsewhere." Volker agreed,
but urged vigilance given Russia's penchant for
simply seeking new venues to "sow discord."
-- Election Monitoring: Volker and Harkonen agreed that
Russia will never be happy with an ODHIR that meets
the western democracies' expectations, but that such
an ODHIR must be "protected." It remains one of the
most important and valuable OSCE activities, and a
strong OHDIR keeps the OSCE relevant.
-- Funding: Volker assured Harkonen that the US would
pay its assessed contribution on time and in full.
Harkonen agreed on the need to maintain assessment
current scales.
-- Finnish OSCE Priorities will include safety and
security of maritime inland waterways, TIP, law
enforcement cooperation, and other issues that "glue
OSCE member states together." Volker encouraged the
Finns to take a pro-active interest in Central Asian
states, a region that could benefit greatly from
OSCE outreach. He expressed strong support for OSCE
border training missions in Afghanistan/ Tajikistan.

8. (C) Director General for Russia Kirsti Eskelinen said
that, for obvious geographic and historical reasons,
Finnish-Russian relations are far deeper than any other
EU member state's relationship. This "strategic
partnership" is a key to how Finland operates in other
fora such as the OSCE or the EU, and explains the
emphasis Finland has placed on issues such as a new
Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) or Russia's
participation in the EU-Russia "four common spaces"
initiatives. Despite Russia's current "international
posturing," the GOF does feel that Russia is making
progress on "day-to-day issues" that are of importance
to Finland, the US and the EU.

9. (C) Volker accepted Eskelinen's points, but noted
that they do not change the "long list of really
troubling" developments we have seen in Russia. Moscow
is in a period of clear "overexuberance," which the EU
has confronted with neither unity nor a strategic view
aimed at protecting its own interests, particularly on
energy security. Volker said that Russia appears
interested in creating a "superpower" conflict -- which
is something the US has no interest in. The response is
for the US and Europe to focus on finding ways to
convince Moscow to engage constructively on real world
issues like Kosovo, Iran, the Middle East, and
Afghanistan. Eskelinen agreed, noting that the framework
of EU-Russian relations seeks areas for cooperation, but
that Moscow must do its part to make the relationship

10. (C) Finland is currently engaged in several crucial
domestic foreign policy debates aimed at clarifying its
future roles in Kosovo, Afghanistan, the EU and the
OSCE, and vis--vis NATO and the NRF. Volker's visit
came at a crucial time and he was able to weigh in
directly and deliver a clear message regarding the
direction the US would like to see some of those debates
go. On Kosovo, the decision to re-assume a Framework
Nation role and increase the troop presence is a very
welcome development, and clearly a "deliverable" the
Finns felt they could offer. They are also making
definite progress toward a larger role in Afghanistan,
although this process will continue to need our careful
shepherding (see septel). Likewise on NRF
participation: the right ministers have all the right
instincts, but we will need to continue our proactive
engagement to encourage a Finnish commitment and help
them respond to the NATO skeptics. As for OSCE, the
Finns are clearly leaning toward nuanced chairmanship,
one in which they may be inclined, for the sake of unity
within the organization, to bow to some member states'
heavy-handed tactics or demands.

© Scoop Media

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