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Cablegate: Finnish Comments On Nov 3 Gymnich and Nov 10-11

VZCZCXRO0480
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #0500 3051624
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 311624Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4628
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0068
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0015
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 4925
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0652

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000500

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2018
TAGS: BK CG EUN FI PGOV PHUM PREL RS
SUBJECT: FINNISH COMMENTS ON NOV 3 GYMNICH AND NOV 10-11
GAERC

REF: STATE 115017

Classified By: PolChief Scott Brandon for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (U) PolChief met on October 31 with Leena-Kaisa Mikkola,
Director of the MFA Unit for European Union Common Foreign
and Security Policy, to discuss the upcoming Gymnich and
GAERC meetings.

2. (C) Mikkola said the subject of the November 3 Gymnich
would be Transatlantic Relations, i.e., as a change in
government in the U.S. approaches EU ministers will discuss
what issues should be on the transatlantic agenda. Subjects
on the agenda are the Russia, the Middle East,
Afghanistan/Pakistan, and "multilateral cooperation" (Mikkola
was unclear what the last would cover).

- RUSSIA: The GoF does not think it beneficial to continue to
postpone negotiations with Russia on a new EU-Russia
partnership agreement. Continuing postponement might mean
the EU loses the possibility to influence Russia, with the
result that key Member States (MSs) will exert more influence
bilaterally. Mikkola noted that other MSs disagree with that
position, some of whom are "quite close" (likely a reference
to Estonia). Regarding President Medvedev's proposal for a
new European Security Treaty, Mikkola said that the subject
might be raised at Gymnich or GAERC. This issue is
"problematic," as Medvedev raised it with the EU before the
Georgia conflict; subsequently it came under a different
light and now the EU is unsure how to respond. Mikkola said
the GoF has only started to consider the matter, and noted
that within the government and among MS there is a difference
of opinion. Describing it as an interesting option, Mikkola
vaguely mentioned a comment by President Sarkozy about the
OSCE as a possible forum for this matter,

- MIDDLE EAST: Mikkola said the EU hopes that the new U.S.
Administration will lose no time in getting involved in the
Israel/Palestine peace process. Mikkola added that the EU
will "do its share" and referred broadly to existing
financial assistance and security initiatives, with
additional measures under discussion. Mikkola said that it
would be useful for the EU to show support now for deeper
cooperation with Israel, working with Livni, because
cooperation could be harder to deepen under a Netanyahu-led
government. Regarding Iran, the GoF supports new autonomous
measures that go beyond existing UNSCRs and existing EU
policy. Mikkola said there is no consensus in the Council on
this, but perhaps it might be reached "little by little." On
the nonpaper's points on Syria, Mikkola saw no problems on
the Finnish side, for the most part: regarding progress on
the EU-Syria Association Agreement, Mikkola said the GoF
would like to see more progress on this, using the agreement
as a carrot to encourage a more constructive role.

- AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN: Mikkola is unsure what will be
proposed in the Gymnich meeting (foreign and defense
ministers would discuss the EU's role crisis management
initiatives, while separately development ministers would
discuss assistance). She said that "real transatlantic
cooperation" is necessary between the EU and U.S. on this
matter, and added that she saw no problems with the U.S.
points raised.

3. (C) In the November 10 Council meeting Mikkola expected
the main topics would be EU-Russia relations, events in the
Congo and the Western Balkans. Regarding the Congo, a
possible EU crisis management operation is a "tricky issue";
Mikkola says there are some in the EU who have voiced support
for use of the EU Battle Group - no GoF position yet. The
main question for the Western Balkans discussion is what to
do with the military crisis management operation in Bosnia,
i.e., should it be reduced or ended. The Finnish position is
that EUFOR/Althea should wind down to an end sooner rather
than later, as military forces are better used elsewhere and
police can fill the gaps in Bosnia; Mikkola noted that other
MS support a continued military presence in Bosnia.
Additional topics for the Council will be Iraq and Burma. On
Iraq, Mikkola lamented the likelihood of limited debate on
Iraq, saying that it is too seldom a topic of discussion.
Regarding Burma, Mikkola expects nothing dramatic, simply a
reminder to the Burmese government that the EU follows events
there and supports the UN's efforts.

BARRETT

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