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Cablegate: Ambassador and Fm Focus On Vwp, Turkey, Iran

VZCZCXRO9096
OO RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHTH #1483/01 2611318
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O R 181318Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0694
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0030
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 001483

SIPDIS
AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA
AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO USOFFICE ALMATY
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/09/18
TAGS: PREL CVIS KNNP GR TU UN IR OSCE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND FM FOCUS ON VWP, TURKEY, IRAN

REF: A.) ANKARA 1296, B.) ATHENS 1471, C.) STATE 95073

CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Looking ahead to Foreign Minister Bakoyannis'
meeting in New York with the Secretary, Ambassador Speckhard
reminded the FM that the earliest the U.S. could announce approval
of the Visa Waiver Program for Greece would most likely be the end
of October 2009, encouraged Greek goodwill toward Turkey in the
Aegean, and urged the Minister to make a strong statement on Iran
at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly during a September
16 meeting. FM Bakoyannis lamented that despite her personal hard
work and political risk-taking with Parliament to ram through VWP
legislation in the face of criticism from the opposition, the U.S.
would be handing a major prize to the opposition, should it prove
victorious (as polls predict). She urged that a future date for
implementation be agreed and announced at her meeting with the
Secretary. She laid down a marker that Turkey must cease
overflights of inhabited Greek islands in the Aegean before Greece
will consider Turkish actions there in any way other than hostile.
On Iran, she noted the importance of bringing Russia and China on
board in any international approach. Ambassador Speckhard also
reviewed OSCE issues and the election of a new UNESCO DG with the
Minister. END SUMMARY.

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Visa Waiver: All Pain, No Gain?

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2. (C) FM Bakoyannis made a strong pitch to the Ambassador for
the United States to announce at her meeting with the Secretary at
UNGA a future date for VWP implementation, asking for the
Secretary's involvement within the USG to prioritize and energize
interagency work to make it happen. The Minister bemoaned the fact
that she personally had worked hard with the United States and fast
tracked controversial implementing legislation - such as that
dealing with data sharing - through the Greek Parliament, only now
to see a scenario unfolding whereby her party could lose, and the
opposition would be handed a major gift within weeks of taking
office. Most ironic, she noted, was that the socialist PASOK
parliamentarians who had taken her to task for fast-tracking VWP
legislation and the MLAT now stood to reap the political benefits.
The Ambassador noted that announcing the Greek entry into VWP was
most likely not possible until the end of October at the earliest,
but promised to pass her message to the Secretary. (Comment: all
polls in Greece point to PASOK defeating the Foreign Minister's New
Democracy party on October 4. In Greece's conspiracy prone
environment, pundits will likely perceive an announcement on VWP
weeks after the election to be confirmation of a widely held view
that the U.S. did not like Karamanlis for his frequent courting of
the Russians. Similarly, an announcement with Minister Bakoyannis
at UNGA would be taken as a signal of personal support for her, who
is a candidate for future leadership in her party and is seen as a
pro-U.S. in the Greek political system.)

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Turkey: FM - Stopping Overflights Key; Damage Already Done to EU
Accession?

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3. (C) Ambassador Speckhard drew on familiar themes in

ATHENS 00001483 002 OF 003


reiterating U.S. concern over tensions in the Aegean between Greece
and Turkey. He urged FM Bakoyannis not to let Greece be the
country slowing up any positive developments in the Aegean, to show
goodwill, and to be prepared to act on any goodwill shown by
Turkey. Ceasing to label Turkish aircraft entering the Aegean as
"hostile" and stopping intercepts of Turkish aircraft in the Flight
Information Region would be strong and positive signs, he stated.
He also asked the Minister for Greek views on a Turkish-drafted
"Code of Conduct" for the Aegean that was recently passed to
Greece, as well as five confidence-building measures (CBMs)
reported on in reftel A.

4. (C) Bakoyannis dismissed the Turks' proposed Code of Conduct,
stating that in practice, it only serves to call into question the
sovereignty of Greek territory, and on that basis serves to make
the situation worse. They saw the Code as an attempt to recycle
Turkish proposals for Greek actions that had already been rejected
in the CBM discussions and putting a new wrapper on them. "I don't
have the feeling the Turks want to do more," she added, noting that
while she hears much rhetoric, she sees no movement. As long as
overflights of inhabited Greek islands in the Aegean continue, she
stressed, the only way Turkey's Aegean policy can be interpreted is
hostile. She cited Turkish overflights on religious holidays
despite past understandings not to, and an overflight "two days
ago" as examples.

5. (C) Looking at upcoming steps in the Turkish EU accession
process, FM Bakoyannis shared her view that Turkey believed it
could pressure Greece "right up until December." However,
regardless of who wins the October 4 elections in Greece, she
speculated that any Greek government now will have a tough time
supporting Turkey in December based on Turkish behavior over the
past year in the Aegean that has been incongruent with EU
aspirations. On that note she also commented on the recent
incident in the Aegean with a helicopter flying a mission in Greek
airspace for the EU's Frontex border monitoring operation aimed at
countering illegal immigration. She has pictures, she asserted,
from the helicopter of a boat full of illegal immigrants being
followed by a Turkish military ship. She stated that this is
another incident of Turkey pushing immigrants toward Greece, rather
than stopping them at the source. The Ambassador demurred on those
allegations, and reinforced the need for both Turkey and Greece to
tackle Aegean issues in a constructive manner.

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Iran: Positive Greek Statements Can Help

--------------------------------------------- ----------

6. (C) The Ambassador encouraged Greece to play a strong role
within the international community to encourage Iran to make the
right choices regarding its nuclear program. Looking toward the
FM's travel to UNGA, where she will meet the Secretary, he urged a
strong stance on Iran in the FM's public statements, and in her
meetings with other officials. Iran must avoid confrontation by
accepting a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue and fulfilling
its international responsibilities, he stressed. Bakoyannis said
she had recently gone to Brussels to participate in an EU foreign
ministers meeting (Comment: the monthly GAERC meeting) to
participate in the discussion on Iran, and that Greece supported
the EU's common position. She stated that international efforts
will be hard-pressed for success, though, absent Russian and

ATHENS 00001483 003 OF 003


Chinese agreement.

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OSCE Encouragement, UNESCO Disappointment

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7. (C) Looking ahead to the OSCE Ministerial in December, the FM
was optimistic at achieving a consensus-based communique agreed by
all 56 members, but admitted the "devil is in the details." The
Ambassador encouraged the FM to open a "Chairman's Office" in
Tbilisi, which the Greeks had intended to do following the Russian
refusal in Vienna to renew the mandate of the OSCE monitoring
mission in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but which they backed off of
following Russian threats to boycott the September 17 Geneva
discussions on the Caucasus. Bakoyannis expressed reservations in
doing anything that would aggravate the situation and was looking
forward to hearing Secretary Clinton's views on this during their
meeting in New York.

8. (C) Ambassador Speckhard urged Greece not to vote for the
Egyptian candidate for UNESCO Director General on September 17. He
highlighted that the U.S. could support other candidates from
Austria, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Lithuania and Tanzania, but had serious
reservations about the suitability of the Egyptian candidate.
Bakoyannis noted the Greeks were in a bind, particularly now that
there was an EU candidate, because both she and the Prime Minister
had in the past promised the Greek vote to the Egyptian.
Speckhard

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