Cablegate: Netherlands/Russia: Minister Timmermans Regrets


DE RUEHTC #1994/01 3191207
R 151207Z NOV 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L THE HAGUE 001994



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2017

Classified By: Ambassador Roland Arnall for reasons 1.5(b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: On November 9, Ambassador met with Dutch MFA
Minister for European Affairs Timmermans to discuss Russia,
Kosovo, Afghanistan, French President Sarkozy, Timmermans,
upcoming trips to the United States, and plans to commemorate
400 years of American-Dutch relations. Although Timmermans
officially defended the reasons for recent Dutch-Russian
energy deals, he privately confessed disappointment. He also
expressed strong doubt the EU could ever reach consensus on
Kosovo. Timmermans is visiting New York November 16-18, and
will also visit Washington DC November 26-28; he is seeking
high level meetings at State, DOE, NSC, and Capitol Hill (see
para 8). END SUMMARY.

Dutch - Russian Relations

2. (C) Timmermans stated he was not without concerns about
the latest Dutch-Russian business agreements. However, he
must defend the government's policy. (Note: Timmermans
served previously as a diplomat in Moscow and is known to
advocate a stronger human rights policy toward Russia. On
November 8, Timmermans' fellow MP and Labor Party member
Martijn van Dam criticized PM Balkenende's purported failure
to publicly discuss human rights during the PM's recent visit
to Russia.) Timmermans noted that the positive news is that
engaging Russia is the only way to influence it. There isn't
a level playing field for energy deals, and the Dutch energy
sector needs the deals with Russia. If the Russians don't
make deals and follow through to develop their energy sector,
they will default on their contracts, and the fallout will
hit Germany and then the Netherlands. Timmermans concluded
that he has great concerns...but Russia is not going away.


3. (C) Timmermans noted that Russia was creating havoc in
the Balkans, and Kosovo will be a messy affair. The
Russians will react strongly (to a Kosovar declaration of
independence), and the European reaction will be all over
the place, I'm afraid. Timmermans was concerned about the
future implications of the EU's outreach to Kosovo: Kosovo
is run by people who live off crime...(they have) no other
means to support themselves.


4. (C) Timmermans had just returned from the Dutch cabinet
meeting, where Afghanistan was discussed only on the
margins. In principle, the first round of cabinet
discussions will take place November 16, and everyone wants
to avoid delay that could mean a January, rather than
December, parliamentary decision (reftel). For Timmermans,
setting an 18-24 month time limit on the Uruzgan deployment
is key -- the deadline should be firm to avoid repeating the
Dutch debate in two years. (Note: Timmermans' statement
reflects the view of the Labor Party. Timmermans added that
his brother will soon go to Afghanistan as a battalion
commander, and that he thinks about the parents of the dead
soldiers in Afghanistan.) The Dutch will not disengage from
Afghanistan any time soon, but will disengage from Uruzgan.
The French decision to deploy in Uruzgan is very good news,
though there was an explicit deal between PM Balkenende and
President Sarkozy -- that the Dutch would deploy to Chad in
exchange for the French deployment to Afghanistan.


5. (C) President Sarkozy is creating a wonderful opportunity
for the EU and the United States. However, the risk is that
he may overpromise and underdeliver in France and within the
EU. Sarkozy's steps toward NATO are extraordinary.

Timmermans' Trip to the United States, Dutch-U.S. Relations
--------------------------------------------- --------------

6. (C/NF) Timmermans wants to make the 2009 celebration of
American-Dutch relations a success. He is working to
focus organizers during his meetings in New York November
16-18. He spoke earlier to New York Governor Spitzer about
the events, and the governor was committed to the issue.
Queen Beatrix has expressed interest in participating (Note:
Please protect. Timmermans asked that the information about
the Queen not be shared.).

7. (C) Timmermans also commented on Dutch-U.S. relations
after the 2008 elections -- he does not expect much change.
There are few differences among the campaigns on foreign
policy. If the Democrats win the White House, they won't
disengage from Iraq. If the Republicans win, they won't put
any less effort into building relations with Europe.

8. (SBU) Timmermans thanked the ambassador for agreeing to
help set up meetings for Timmermans' November 26-28 trip to
Washington. He would like to meet with Energy Secretary
Bodman, Under Secretaries Burns and Jeffrey, as well as
senior National Security Council contacts and members of


9. (C) Although his official portfolio covers European and
Cultural Affairs, Timmermans is a major behind-the-scenes
player within the Labor Party (PvdA) on foreign and defense
policy issues generally, including the Uruzgan extension.
Timmermans' support, while still in opposition, for sending
Dutch troops to Uruzgan was one of the key factors convincing
PvdA leader Wouter Bos to support the original deployment
decision in 2005. Now that the issue of a new referendum on
the EU reform treaty has been settled in the Balkenende
government's favor, Timmermans appears to be focusing on
European Energy policy as his next big project. His views on
this subject will carry weight not only within the
Netherlands, but also in EU circles where he is widely
respected. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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