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Cablegate: Codel Franks Leaves Positive Impression On Czech

VZCZCXRO8156
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHPG #1009/01 2480535
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050535Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9561
INFO RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW PRIORITY 3273
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRAGUE 001009

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NCE, TRATENSEK AND H.
H PASS TO REPRESENTATIVE FRANKS' STAFF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR PGOV NATO EZ
SUBJECT: CODEL FRANKS LEAVES POSITIVE IMPRESSION ON CZECH
HOSTS


1. (SBU) Summary and Conclusion: Ambassador Graber and U.S.
Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) met in Prague August 29-30
with key Czech government officials and politicians to
discuss missile defense. Franks' main message to the
President, the Prime Minister, Foreign and Defense Ministers,
and the head of the opposition was two-fold: 1) there is
strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for missile
defense and, he believes, funding for the European site would
be available provided that the Czechs and Poles conclude
agreements with the United States; 2) the threat from rogue
states and terrorist networks is real and must be countered,
including through missile defense. Franks also gave five
interviews on camera and to print media. Overall, he
delivered an impassioned, well-articulated message of U.S.
commitment to working with the Czech Republic and European
allies on missile defense. Unsurprisingly, President Klaus
and opposition leader Paroubek did not deviate from earlier
positions. However, they were engaged and both expressed
interest in the questions surrounding MD funding.
Paroubek,s focus on whether the threat is real indicates
that a greater U.S. effort to explain the threats which MD
would seek to counter could pay off. End Summary and
Comment.

2. (SBU) FM Schwarzenberg stressed his strong support for the
MD project, and pledged that the government negotiating
effort in the months ahead would result in a positive
outcome, which the GOCR hopes to achieve by year's end. He
noted the difficulty with the "disinformation" campaign, and
said that the funding cuts in the Congress played directly
into the hands of MD opponents. Schwarzenberg noted that any
U.S. effort to move forward with the radar in the Czech
Republic, but without interceptors in Poland, would not be
successful in parliament. Schwarzenberg told Franks that it
was important, in his public remarks, to focus on the threat
and the need to prepare ahead to meet future threats.

3. (SBU) In his meeting with PM Topolanek, Franks was able to
address the government's questions and concerns about MD
funding. Topolanek summarized his &mission8 on MD as
follows: 1) counter pressures to delay the government's
negotiations and decisions, especially those coming from
Russia; 2) provide as much information as possible to the
public, specifically on the funding issue; 3) convince MD
opponents that the system will not divide NATO, but will
eventually be a part of it; and 4) rebut charges that the
Czech radar will be decoupled from the Polish interceptors.
According to Topolanek, if he is successful on these four
counts, he will go a long way toward ensuring an eventual
Czech approval. Topolanek also stressed potential
scientific/R&D cooperation as an important side benefit of
the MD facility, and one that would resonate with the public.
He encouraged the U.S. side to explore ways to spur such
cooperation.

4. (SBU) Franks had a good exchange with Jiri Paroubek,
former Prime Minister and currently head of the largest
opposition party. While he agreed with Franks that too many
times in history the West had failed to act until a looming
threat had already materialized, Paroubek maintained that, in
his view, the threat from rogue regimes remains &virtual.8
He admitted, however, that this virtual threat could become a
real threat in the next 3 to 5 years, in which case his
party's position would also evolve. Paroubek also reiterated
an earlier commitment that a future CSSD government would
honor the MD agreement, if one were reached by the current
government and passed in the Czech parliament.

5. (SBU) Paroubek was remarkably open about the political
reasons driving his position on MD. He stated that he was in
a tough position politically, with 60 % of Czechs, and more
than 80% of his party members opposing the radar
installation, "leaving me with little room for maneuver." He
remarked that the communists would capitalize on any missteps
by CSSD, and MD support would be just such a misstep.
(Comment: This political calculus behind Paroubek,s MD
opposition will not change in the near future. Despite
Franks, urging to take a longer term view, Paroubek is very
much focused on the next election. However, the admission
that the threat, if perceived as more serious, could change
his party position may offer some opening for us to expand
his maneuvering room. We should focus on explaining better
the threats and providing as much information as we can share
with Czech officials and the public. Paroubek's planned visit
to Washington in October provides such an opportunity. End

PRAGUE 00001009 002 OF 002


comment.)

6. (SBU) Congressman Franks briefly met with the Minister of
Defense Parkanova. The Minister stated that the GOCR shared
the U.S. view of the global security situation. She
remarked, however, that public opposition to the planned base
was somewhat surprising, saying that she never would have
imagined that 18 years after the Revolution ended a
totalitarian regime, "that the Czech people would have such a
rigid way of thinking." She stated that the public emphasis
should not be on the radars but on "the Russian efforts to
exert pressure on the CR." That is why, she said, she is
investing all of her political capital on MD.

7. (SBU) Congressman Franks, meeting with President Klaus
was cordial, but did not indicate any change in Klaus,
deliberately vague position on MD. While Klaus, who will be
running in early next year's presidential elections, adopted
his usual supportive stance on U.S.-Czech relations, he was
difficult to pin down on anything having to do with MD. He
said that a parliamentary vote of 101 to 99 in favor of
hosting the radar facility would not be good and that a
national consensus must be reached. However, Klaus was
interested in hearing more about Congressional support and
funding for MD, an indication that he remains engaged on the
issue.


8. (SBU) Congressman Franks also met with a group of key
parliamentarians from parties in and out of government. This
meeting was a good start to the embassy's reengagement with
the parliament and the Senate on the issue of MD. Franks,
explanation of the budget process was especially helpful in
addressing the parliamentarians' concerns.
GRABER

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