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Cablegate: Karamanlis in Moscow: Par@Thens 2375

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTH #2386/01 3541442
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201442Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0937
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 002386

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2017
TAGS: EFIN EINV ENRG EPET PGOV PREL KPRV GR
SUBJECT: KARAMANLIS IN MOSCOW: PAR@THENS 2375


ClassifQMAN. REASONS 1.4 (@ARY: A partial MFA reQ
visit to Moscow cf the protocol on the
company for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil
pipeline, formation of a working group to discuss issues
surrounding the South Stream gas pipeline, and agreement on
several cultural issues. The MFA confirmed that Karamanlis
had congratulated Putin on the Duma elections but claimed he
did so only once, not repeatedly, as reported in the Greek
press. Karamanlis also described Russia as a "strategic
partner," but MFA contacts stressed this was "nothing new"
and had "little real meaning." END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Greek MFA A5 Directorate for CIS Countries Counsellor
Elisabeth Fotiadou provided the following readout of PM
Karamanlis's December 18-19 visit to Moscow. The delegation
had just returned, and she received information on the visit
from A5 chief Ambassador Nikolas Tsamados, who had
accompanied Karamanlis on the trip. FM Bakoyannis and
Minister of Development Folias accompanied Karamanlis, though
Bakoyannis was unable to hold a bilateral meeting with
Russian FM Lavrov because Lavrov was away from Moscow.
Fotiadou said Karamanlis and Putin met one-on-one for an hour
then held an expanded delegation meeting. Information on the
one-on-one was unavailable so Fotiadou was only able to
provide a readout of the enlarged meeting.

ENERGY ISSUES
-------------

3. (C) Fotiadou mentioned the signing of the protocol on the
Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, whose construction would
begin in spring 2008. On South Stream, she said there had
been no "deep discussion," only an agreement on the need for
further discussions. A South Stream working group, with
members from the Greek Ministry of Development and the
Russian Energy Ministry, was also formed to work on the
issue. In February 2008, DFM Doukas and his Russian
counterpart Godaev (spelling as heard) would hold in Athens
the regular annual bilateral economic community meeting,
which was scheduled earlier but postponed due to the Russian
Duma elections in early December.

OTHER ISSUES
------------

4. (C) Nothing was mentioned on Kosovo or FYROM/Macedonia at
the enlarged meeting, though Fotiadou said her office had
prepared TPs for Karamanlis on Kosovo (content not
disclosed), which he likely used in the one-on-one. On other
European issues, the enlarged group discussed deepening
Russia-EU ties, particularly since the break in the logjam
over Polish meat and the Russia-EU Partnership and
Cooperation Agreement. There also was an extended discussion
on cultural issues, including Greek agreement to open a
Slavic languages department at Athens University, for which
the Russians had been pushing for years. Greece offered to
provide advice to Russia on organizing the 2014 Sochi winter
Olympics, and the sides agreed to mark a "year of Greece" and
a "Year of Russia" in their respective countries in 2013 in
the run-up to the Olympics. Karamanlis thanked Putin for
Russian assistance during the August fires in Greece, and the
sides also discussed tourism in light of the growing number
of Russians vacationing in Greece.

ELECTION CONGRATS AND "STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP"
---------------------------------------------

5. (C) On reports that Karamanlis had repeatedly
congratulated Putin on the recent Duma elections, Fotiadou
confirmed that Karamanlis had indeed offered congratulations
but only once during their opening statements. As for
reports on Karamanlis talking about a "strategic partnership"
or "strategic alliance," Fotiadou said Karamanlis had used
the term but that this was "nothing new" and had been done
for at least several years. In any case, she said, the term
had "little real meaning" and served primarily a protocol
purpose.

COMMENT
-------

6. (C) Fotiadou's readout was partial, at best, and seemed
pitched in a deliberately low-key tone for her American
interlocutor. The reality of the meetings was probably
somewhere between this and the over-the-top reports carried
in the hyperbolic Greek press (reftel). In any case, there
did not appear to be much accomplished substantively in
Moscow beyond the signing of the agreement to move into the
final stages of pre-construction on the
Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. We will continue to
watch the development of Greek-Russian relations closely and
to push the Greeks on their position on South Stream. We
will also continue to seek a fuller readout on the Moscow
visit from the offices of PM Karamanlis and Development
Minister Folias.
SPECKHARD

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