Cablegate: Scenesetter for Ambassador Lagon's September 1-3

DE RUEHTH #1203/01 2391537
O 261537Z AUG 08

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 001203


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2018


1. (C) Welcome to Athens. Your visit is an excellent
opportunity to press Greece to show progress on TIP issues if
it wishes to avoid a Tier-Two Watch-List rating. Your visit
comes at a particularly delicate moment in U.S.-Greece
relations. A NATO ally and EU member, Greece has been
helpful in some areas, such as its support for our naval
facility at Souda Bay, while also taking positions at odds
with U.S. interests, such as moving closer to Russia on
energy pipeline deals. Bilateral relations have been
particularly difficult since Greece vetoed the Republic of
Macedonia's NATO accession at the Bucharest Summit in April.
You will face interlocutors who are reluctant to believe that
U.S. criticism of Greece's TIP record is anything other than
retribution for the Macedonia veto.


2. (SBU) In line with the requests we received from your
office, we are arranging several meetings with government
officials and NGOs, as well as visits to a shelter. These
meetings include Secretary General of the MFA Agathocles,
Minister of Justice and Public Order Hatzigakis, and members
of the Inter-Government TIP Committee. NGOs you will see
include the European Women's Network (ENOW), Klimaka, and ACT
UP, among others. We also hope you will agree to present,
along with Ambassador Speckhard, an award to NEW Life's Emma
Skjonsby-Manousaridis, one of the 2008 TIP Heroes. We are
also planning a press event where you will have the
opportunity to talk about the importance of human trafficking
as a global challenge.

3. (SBU) During your visit you will have n opportunity to
highlight issues in the G/TIP Action Guide for Greece,
including the development of a system for reporting arrests,
prosecutions and punishments; increased protection and
services for victims and witnesses; increased law enforcement
efforts; prosecution of trafficking-related corruption; as
well as to encourage the Government of Greece to raise the
overall awareness of TIP issues. We have previewed the
Action Guide with the Ministries of Justice and Foreign
Affairs in anticipation of your visit.


4. (U) The Greek Parliament ratified on July 31, 2008, a
bilateral agreement with Albania on child repatriation, which
had been pending for several years, providing protection and
aid to children who have been victims of trafficking. The
agreement provides for safe repatriation of children to
Albania and appointment of custodians, and measures to combat
the root causes of child trafficking, such as improved access
to education. The agreement also establishes a Central
Coordination Committee that will aim to improve efficiency of
state entities devoted to trafficking. It will enter into
force when published in the Government Gazette.

5. (U) The TIP police (a section of the National Police's
Organized Crime Division) issued a report on its activities
during its first two years. Key elements include:

-- The TIP police investigated 69 cases and dismantled 13
international organized criminal networks in cooperation with

-- The TIP Police filed court papers against 287 persons in
Greece and abroad, on the basis of which 192 Greeks and
foreigners were arrested. Of the 192, 117 were charged for
participation in a criminal organization; 52 were arrested in
Greece, while warrants were issued for the others. Of those
arrested in Greece, many are in pre-trial detention or have
been released on probation until their cases are heard by the
courts. Most cases are pending. Four have been tried on
first-degree charges, and sentences of 15-19 years were

-- Protection and aid was offered to 127 men, women, and
children, many of whom were voluntarily repatriated. Of the
127, 41 were recognized as trafficking victims by the
prosecutor and were placed in NGO shelters. These numbers
have decreased slightly from previous years due to
conflicting data.

6. (SBU) On June 2, governors of border provinces in Greece,
Bulgaria, and Turkey met as part of their on-going
discussions on trafficking issues and re-affirmed their

ATHENS 00001203 002 OF 003

commitment to support victims and to strengthen measures
against traffickers.

7. (SBU) The European Women's Network (ENOW), Klimaka, and
the Greek Council for Refugees -- all dynamic NGOs and
official partners of the MFA in combating trafficking in
persons -- complained to us about delays in receiving funds
from the Development Aid Division of the MFA. All three NGOs
said cooperation with the Development Aid Division was ad hoc
and funds were made available only after very long delays.
As a result, Klimaka was forced to close a trafficking
victims, shelter in 2007. Nickie Roumbani, President of
ENOW, alleged that the government shelter EKKA was also at
minimal operation level due to delays in receiving committed
funds. ENOW and other NGOs expressed admiration for police
work but were very critical of the Ministry of Justice and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

8. (U) At the same time, however, Hellenic Aid maintained its
ongoing commitment to help fund the Transnational Action
Against Child Trafficking (TACT) program in Albania, at its
accustomed 100,000 Euros/annum levels. USAID is also a major
contributor to this program.


9. (SBU) In this year's Freedom House survey, the Greek media
is rated as "free," albeit near the bottom of the Western
Europe group alongside Spain and Italy. In some respects,
however, it is more reminiscent of the Middle East, with a
tendency toward sensationalism and conspiracy theories.
Editorial and reporting lines largely support the economic
and political interest of the various medial outlets owners.
The issue of trafficking has been the subject of sporadic
Greek media attention for the past several years, usually
within the larger context of migration. Recent examples
include a mid-July report during the prime-time newscast of a
popular TV station, which noted neither Russia nor Greece has
an adequate legal framework to address sex trafficking. This
was part of a series on increased Russian tourism and travel

10. (SBU) For your roundtable discussion, we plan to invite
Greek diplomatic correspondents from both print and broadcast
outlets who are familiar with our annual TIP report and U.S.
policy in general. Nevertheless, you may wish to spend up to
several minutes at the start of the discussion to put the TIP
issue in global context, as well as to convey information
about Greece and your meetings here, including the award
presentation to the director of the NGO "Nea Zoi." The
off-camera discussion will be in English, with the local
staff available to assist with any Greek translation needs
that may arise for individual reporters.

11. (C) Although these and other TIP issues will be the focus
of your meetings, we also provide the following background on
other topical issues that could emerge -- even informally --
in your discussions. U.S.-Greece relations are decidedly
mixed. On the positive side, Greek-U.S. military-to-military
cooperation and the work between our law enforcement
officials remains strong. The U.S. Navy base at Souda Bay on
Crete is a growing hub for transport and logistics in the
Middle East theater, and Greece is among the largest
purchasers of U.S. military equipment. The Greeks have also
been good partners on domestic and international
counterterrorism issues, and we are working hard to ensure
that the overall political environment does not undermine
this cooperation on the security front. In Kosovo, Greece is
providing personnel to the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULUX),
the International Civilian Office (ICO), the OSCE Mission,
NATO (KFOR), and has ongoing dialogue with Kosovo
authorities. At the same time, U.S. and Greek positions on a
number of key issues have diverged.


12. (C) Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Greece objected
to the Republic of Macedonia's name. At the April NATO
Summit, Greece blocked the invitation of Macedonia into the
Alliance under its constitutional name "The Republic of
Macedonia" -- a top U.S. priority. Since the Summit, we have
continued to urge both Athens and Skopje to work rapidly for
a solution. Greek/Macedonian relations have been dealt an
additional setback by a tart exchange of letters between
Macedonian PM Gruevski and Greek PM Karamanlis on questions
related to the "Macedonian minority" in Greece.

ATHENS 00001203 003 OF 003


13. (C) Greece does not appear likely to recognize Kosovo in
the immediate future but is playing a reasonably constructive
role behind the scenes. Greece has been among the most
active players in the EU in engaging with Serbia post-Kosovo
independence and in encouraging Serbia's European and
Euro-Atlantic perspective.


14. (S) PM Karamanlis has pursued a policy of an enhanced
relationship with Russia. This is evident in deals on energy
pipelines but also in Greek purchases of Russian military
equipment, numerous reciprocal high-level visits, and
expanding trade and cultural ties. But Greece also has
historical ties to Georgia. The Russian/Georgian crisis has
put Greece in a tight spot. The GoG has come out in suSarkos with Russian defense
industry officials and the ratification in September of the
Southstream gas pipeline agreement. The Embassy has pushed
the GoG hard to cancel or delay these ill-advised moves.

15. (C) It is important to stress, however, that while the
GoG has been rhetorically supportive of Southstream, it has
taken concrete steps to realize the Turkey-Greece-Italy
Interconnector (TGI). This is the first pipeline to carry
Caspian gas to Europe without going through Russia or through
Russian-controlled pipelines. TGI is an important step in
realizing our Southern Corridor strategy of increasing energy
diversity and security for Europe. Thus, Greece has found
itself in the cross hairs of an intense effort by Russian
Gazprom to minimize the flow of Azerbaijani gas through
Greece. We believe that Gazprom's Southstream pipeline,
which is designed to follow the same route as TGI, is
designed to undermine TGI.


16. (C) Greece's role in the Aegean continues to impact its
rapprochement with Turkey and the Cyprus dispute. The
Greek/Turkish bilateral relationship has improved in recent
years, repeatedly evidenced by Athens, ongoing support for
Ankara's EU membership and PM Karamanlis' January visit to
Turkey. There has, however, been no tangible progress on
long-standing disputes over continental shelf and the status
of islands in the Aegean.

17. (SBU) Although the Cyprus issue has been stymied since
the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN-brokered Annan plan to
reunify the island in a 2004 referendum (Turkish-Cypriots
accepted the Plan), the election of Cypriot President
Christofias and his engagement with his Turkish-Cypriot
counterpart is widely seen as a new opportunity to reach a
comprehensive solution on the island. While Greece has
unique influence with the Greek Cypriots, it does not have
the same level of influence as Turkey has with the Turkish
Cypriot community. The Greeks remain suspicious that Turkey
may not be as committed to achieving a permanent settlement
to the issue.

© Scoop Media

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