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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Principal Deputy Secretary Kurt


DE RUEHTL #0583/01 2491425
R 061425Z SEP 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: A) 06 TALLINN 311 B) TALLINN 432 C) TALLINN 519 D)

541 H) TALLINN 366 I) TALLIINN 375 J) TALLINN 520 H)

1. (U) Welcome to Tallinn. Your visit will bring you to
one of our most supportive allies in Europe. Your arrival
comes on the heels of a banner period for U.S.-Estonian
bilateral relations the past year: the President's historic
visit to Estonia last November; Estonian appreciation for
U.S. support during the April "Bronze Soldier" riots,
subsequent cyber attacks and deteriorating relations with
Russia; Foreign Minister Urmas Paet's visit to Washington
for a celebration of the 85th anniversary of U.S-Baltic
diplomatic relations; and President Toomas Hendrik Ilves'
June visit to the White House.

2. (SBU) Mr. Aivo Orav, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
Director General for Political Affairs, is hosting the
Vilnius 10 (V-10) Political Directors Conference on
September 12-13. The conference agenda includes
discussions on:

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- NATO enlargement (for Western-Balkan countries, Georgia,
and Ukraine);
- Euro-Atlantic integration of NATO partners;
- Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty;
- Missile Defense;
- Kosovo;
- Energy Security;
- Russia;
- Afghanistan;
- Cyber Security; and
- Iraq.

Estonia: A Staunch NATO Ally

Estonia consistently supports U.S. positions within NATO.
Despite the small size of its military, it is contributing
8.2% of its deployable forces in NATO operations (in
Afghanistan, Kosovo, NATO Response Force, and NATO's Iraq
Training Mission in Jordan), Operation Enduring Freedom in
Iraq, European Union's (EU) operations (the EU's Nordic
Battle Group), and other foreign missions (including the UN
mission in Lebanon). Unlike some NATO allies which are
cutting back on defense spending, the GOE is on track to
meet its NATO commitment to devote 2% of its GDP to defense
(currently at 1.83%).

4. (U) AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan is Estonia's highest
foreign policy priority in the global war on terror (GWOT).
A company of Estonian soldiers (130) is deployed to the
southern province of Helmand (the epicenter of
Afghanistan's opium production and a stronghold for the
Taliban). On June 23, two Estonian soldiers were killed
and four seriously wounded in a Taliban rocket attack.
After the attack, Estonia's President, Prime Minister,
Foreign Minister, and Defense Minister all publicly
reiterated the GOE's support for the mission in
Afghanistan. Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo recently
returned from a visit to Helmand where he met with Estonian
troops (August 26-27). In addition to its military
presence, the GOE has one diplomat in Afghanistan who
oversees Estonian development assistance. In June 2007,
the MFA delivered almost $100,000 of pre-natal medical
equipment to a hospital in Helmand (Refs A and B). The
GOE's Afghanistan mission mandate expires at the end of the
year. This fall, Parliament will have to vote on renewal
of the mandate. The Afghanistan mission enjoys wide
support in Parliament, even with opposition parties. Our
parliamentary interlocutors have consistently told us that
they believe the renewal will pass without much controversy
or difficulty (Ref C).

5. (SBU) IRAQ: Estonia has been a committed partner in Iraq
since 2003. Currently, 34 Estonian soldiers serve
shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. troops under the command of
the U.S. 1ST Cavalry Division outside of Baghdad. To date,
the Estonians have suffered a total of 18 casualties,
including two killed, in Iraq. The Estonians are involved
in some of the toughest counter-insurgency missions and
have consistently received praise from U.S. commanders on
the ground for their skill, professionalism, and valuable
contribution. Like the Afghanistan mission, the Iraq
mission mandate expires at the end of the year. As the
Iraq mission is unpopular with the Estonian public, we
expect the debate in Parliament will be contentious and
politicized (Ref D). Maintaining political support for

Estonia's presence in Iraq will be a serious challenge in
the medium- to long-term.

6. (SBU) BALKANS: In spring 2007, Estonia finished its
participation in EU-peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.
Estonia reduced its presence in Kosovo from a company-size
infantry unit (participating in a Danish-led peacekeeping
force) to 25 soldiers, who serve in Pristina as military
police. On Kosovo's final status, the GOE strongly
supports a unified EU position on the basis of the
Ahtisaari Plan.

7. (U) GEORGIA: The GOE has been active in supporting
Georgian reforms as well as peace and security in the
region. President Ilves (twice), Prime Minister Ansip, and
Foreign Minister Paet have all traveled to Georgia in the
past year. Estonia supports Georgia's NATO membership
aspirations and has advocated for initiation of a
Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia. The MFA views
Georgia as a priority country for democracy promotion and
assistance. Estonia sent two experts to participate in an
international investigation into the missile incident in
Georgia in August. Estonian support for Georgia during
this crisis has come from the highest levels of the GOE and
the Parliament (Ref G).

8. (U) NATO ENLARGEMENT: Estonia is a vocal supporter of
NATO expansion. PM Ansip and FM Paet regularly speak out
on the importance of bringing Balkan and Eastern European
countries into NATO in order to cement democratic and free-
market reforms there. Despite its commitment to NATO
expansion, Estonia has always made it clear that no
aspirant country should be given a "free ride" when it
comes to fulfilling membership requirements. President
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Prime Minister Ansip, and Foreign
Minister Paet recently reiterated this message in meetings
with Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, and Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili (Ref E and F).

9. (SBU) CFE TREATY: Estonia is not a member of CFE, but is
eager to join. Russia's recent posturing to suspend
negotiations on the adapted CFE Treaty has elicited strong
reactions from the GOE. Estonia is adamant that regardless
of the approach in overcoming the current stalemate with
Moscow, Russia must fully satisfy its Istanbul commitments.
An Estonian delegation met with U.S., Lithuanian, and
Latvian officials in Vilnius in late August to discuss the
latest CFE developments. MFA and MOD interlocutors have
informed us that the GOE is generally supportive of U.S.
initiatives on CFE, but wants further consultation on all
developments (Ref J).

A Democracy Promoter: Central Europe and the Balkans
--------------------------------------------- -------

Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova are priority countries for
Estonian development assistance in the region. GOE
assistance promotes political, military and economic
reforms in line with NATO and EU accession. The GOE
annually sponsors Georgian, Ukrainian and Balkan military
officers, civilians, civil servants, and diplomats to study
at the Baltic Defense College (in Tartu), the Public
Service Academy, and the School of Diplomacy. In multiple
forums, recipient countries commented on Estonia's
credibility in promoting democracy and market reforms in
the region -- due to its own successful transition and
accession to the EU and NATO. Former Prime Minister Mart
Laar has served as an advisor to Georgian President
Saakashvili since 2005. In spring 2007, Ukrainian
President Yushchenko's invited former Estonian President
Arnold Ruutel to discuss how to promote political and
market reforms in Ukraine.

provides some development assistance to countries in the
Balkans and Adriatic in the areas of IT, tourism, market
reforms, and institution building through project
partnerships linking local municipalities, NGOs, and
various government agencies. In Brussels, the MFA supports
a more proactive EU role in the region.

Other Issues: Cyber Security, Relations
with Russia, Energy Security and Visa Waiver

12. (SBU) CYBER SECURITY: In the aftermath of the GOE's
decision to relocate a Soviet era World War II monument,
the "Bronze Soldier", Estonia became victim of a series of
coordinated cyber attacks. For over a month, Estonian

government, banking, and media online infrastructure (e.g.,
websites, servers, and routers) came under a barrage of
cyber attacks that tested Estonian cyber defenses and
proved extremely expensive. While the GOE suspects
Moscow's complicity, it has only circumstantial evidence
linking Russia to the cyber attacks. The technology behind
the attacks was not new or sophisticated, but the attacks
revealed the inherent vulnerabilities of modern, online
infrastructure. In July, the GOE finished its initial
investigation and analysis of the attacks. While Estonia's
cyber defenses were ultimately successful, the GOE's report
recommended further improvements, especially in regards to
public-private cooperation (Ref H and I).

13. (SBU) RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA: Sixteen years after
regaining its independence, Estonia's relationship with
Russia remains difficult and complicated. While the
countries share trade and investment ties, they have not
been able to conclude a border treaty. Depending on the
political climate, trucks crossing from Estonia into Russia
may encounter delays of up to several days (Ref J). The
relocation of the "Bronze Soldier" prompted riots (the
largest since 1918) by ethnic Russians in Tallinn.
Following the riots, Russia put heavy economic and
diplomatic pressure on Estonia - including refusing to
disperse a mob outside the Estonian Embassy in Moscow for
several days, limiting rail and truck traffic across the
border and encouraging a boycott of Estonian goods (Ref H).
Since May, rail traffic (oil, coal, wood and other
materials) has been down by between 30 to 50% -
significantly reducing Estonia's transit revenues and
complicating supply lines for Estonian companies.

14. (U) ENERGY SECURITY: Large domestic oil shale reserves
have allowed Estonia to remain relatively independent of
Russian energy supplies, although Estonia imports natural
gas from Russia. The GOE is currently exploring multiple
options for diversifying sources in the long term. (Note.
Industry estimates predict that reserves of high quality,
easily accessible oil shale will last anywhere from 15 to
100 more years. End Note.) The GOE will need to invest in
expensive upgrades to its oil shale plants to meet EU
environmental standards by 2012. A proposed Baltic-Polish
nuclear reactor in Lithuania, as well as possible
participation in a new Finnish reactor, presents other
possibilities for expanding electricity supply. The
proposed NordStream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany may
pass very close to Estonia's territorial waters. Speaking
at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS) in late June, President Ilves said that Germany's
"failure" to consult with other EU members regarding
NordStream undermined trust and highlighted the need for a
common EU approach to energy security.

15. (SBU) VISA WAIVER: Securing visa-free travel to the
United States for Estonian citizens remains a priority for
both the GOE and Estonian public. Senior GOE officials and
the media regularly raise the issue of membership in the
U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) at all levels with the USG.
Estonia's recent progress toward meeting the VWP criteria
and U.S. Congressional action have put the country on track
(perhaps) to join the VWP by the summer of 2009.


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