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Cablegate: Finland: Democracy in Venezuela

VZCZCXRO1050
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #0843 3241104
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201104Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3920
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 1124
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0394
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0002
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0365
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0090

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000843

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM WHA EUN VE FI
SUBJECT: FINLAND: DEMOCRACY IN VENEZUELA

REF: A. STATE 154674

B. STATE 157005

1. (SBU) Polchief delivered reftel demarche Nov. 19 to Jukka
Pietikainen, Director of the Finnish MFA's Unit for Latin
America. Pietikainen said that the UK had initially
circulated a draft statement to EU partners condemning the
Chavez Regime's proposed constitutional reforms in strong
terms and calling for greater respect for democracy, civil
society, and personal freedoms. However, Spain, Italy and
Portugal, among others, will not support such a harshly
worded public statement, so the UK has now offered "more
balanced" statement that Finland hopes will win support from
those member states. Finland supported the initial
statement, Pietikainen said, believing that the EU has
achieved very little impact through "silent diplomacy" with
the Chavez government, and that the time for more robust
public diplomacy is at hand. However, he added, Finland will
also support the new draft statement in the hopes of winning
EU consensus.

2. (SBU) On the bilateral level, Pietikainen -- who had just
returned from Venezuela the day before -- said that Finland's
small embassy in Caracas had been active in vocally
supporting civil society and Venezuelan NGOs, but that other
resident EU member state Embassies were not comfortable with
public statements. He fully shared our concerns about limits
on NGOs, the decline in free speech, and Chavez's increasing
support to militias. However, because the Finns have limited
bilateral access to the GOV, it still remains it their
interest to work within the EU as well, Pietikainen added.
HYATT

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