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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iran, Georgia-Russia, Afghanistan;Berlin

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RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHRL #1228/01 2741138
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011138Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5353
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1587
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0288
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0811
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2328
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1337
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 0520
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE//J5 DIRECTORATE (MC)//
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
RUKAAKC/UDITDUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BERLIN 001228

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/PAPD, EUR/PPA, EUR/CE, INR/EUC, INR/P,
SECDEF FOR USDP/ISA/DSAA, DIA FOR DC-4A

VIENNA FOR CSBM, CSCE, PAA

"PERISHABLE INFORMATION -- DO NOT SERVICE"

SIPDIS

E.0. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO IR GG RS AF
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAN, GEORGIA-RUSSIA, AFGHANISTAN;BERLIN

1. Lead Stories Summary
2. (Iran) Resumption of Talks
3. (Georgia-Russia) EU Report
4. (Afghanistan) Future Strategy

1. Lead Stories Summary

Primetime newscasts opened with stories on the natural catastrophes
in
Samoa and Indonesia. Several papers showed front-page photos of the

disasters. Broadcast and online media focused this morning on an
additional earthquake in Sumatra. Most papers led with stories on
the
aftermath of the Bundestag elections. Editorials focused on the
situation of the SPD and the surprisingly strong job market.

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2. (Iran) Resumption of Talks

Under the headline "Ahmadinejad's show," Frankfurter Allgemeine
(10/01) editorialized: "The outrage Ahmadinejad is showing because
his
country has again been caught cheating with its nuclear program
gives
rise to speculation. Is Iran simply trying to improve its situation

prior to the today's negotiations by appearing particularly tough?

Even Medvedev indicated that Moscow is considering tougher
sanctions.
If this is the case, the noise from Tehran would be a good sign
because it is only supposed to conceal diplomatic shortcomings. Or
is
this Ahmadinejad's negotiating strategy? Tehran wants to be
diplomatically aggressive instead of being forced onto the
defensive.
One thing is clear: the willingness of Iranians to seriously talk
about their program depends on whether they will really face tough
sanctions if they reject negotiations. If Beijing and Moscow do not

join in, the West must go forward."

Under the headline "They are spitting on Obama's hand," Die Zeit
(10/01) highlighted that "Iran's leadership is challenging the
American president." The weekly adds: "Obama wants a peaceful
solution to the nuclear conflict because he knows about the
devastating consequences of a military strike, including an Israeli

one. However, he must not allow others to make a fool out of him.

His government is therefore now preparing tougher sanctions against

Iran. To do this, he needs the Russians, and President Medvedev has

at least suggested that sanctions are indispensible. There is
hardly
anything else that would hit Iran harder than stopping fuel
deliveries."

Sddeutsche (10/01) editorialized: "Prior to the talks in Geneva,
western diplomats have reduced their expectations. The hurdle Iran

has to take is very low. Tehran's envoys simply have to generally
talk about the nuclear program, it was said.... The reason for the

reservation is obvious: the West does not have good options in the

BERLIN 00001228 002 OF 004


nuclear dispute with Iran. It is now about attaining what is
possible
and not losing sight of the goal: Iran must not get hold of nuclear

weapons. Russia and China are unlikely to support tough sanctions.

If you want to stick to the unity of the world powers, which was
always seen as a condition for influencing Iran, you have to expect

this. After 30 years of embargo, the U.S. alone can no longer
impress
Iran.... However, if Iran does not move at all, sanctions are the
remaining alternative."

Under the headline "The military option is getting closer,"
Tageszeitung (10/01) opined: "Today's talks on Iran in Geneva are
doomed to fail. A precondition for success would be the willingness

of at least one side to reach a compromise on the conflict over
Iran's
nuclear program. Barack Obama's gestures of dtente in the
beginning
of his presidency raised hope that a political solution could be
found, particularly because the President did not repeat the demand

for a complete stop of uranium enrichment activities. However, this

was not enough to help moderate forces in Tehran who favor a
compromise to succeed. Also because the Iranian president believed
he
would have more chances to be re-elected if he pursued a tough
stance...."

3. (Georgia-Russia) EU Report

All major papers carried reports on the EU report on the outbreak of

the conflict between Georgia and Russia. All papers emphasized
that,
according to the report, it was Georgia's President Saakashvili who

ordered his forces to fire the first shots. Sueddeutsche headlined:

"Georgia Repudiates accusations of Guilt in Causing the War." Die

Welt headlined: "Georgia Began Caucasian Conflict," and emphasized
in
a sub-headline that "Russia is Co-Responsible." Frankfurter
Allgemeine carried a report under the headline: "Russia Welcomes
Report on Georgia."

Sueddeutsche (10/01) carried an editorial under the headline:
"Looking
Back To Dark Years," and judged: "Self-defense, which Georgian
President Saakashvili has always used as a reason for the attack on

the sleeping Tskhinvali until today, was nothing but a lie. Moscow

has always said this.... But the EU report also documents the
Russians'
share in the war: Moscow deliberately destabilized the situation in

Southern Ossetia; it undermined Georgia's statehood by massively
issuing Russian passports...etc. The report confirms what has been

clear since those days in August: Georgia can bury its hopes for
NATO,
let alone EU, accession for a very long time to come, and the
chances

BERLIN 00001228 003 OF 004


for a return of the separated areas around Abkhazia and Southern
Ossetia are not much better. However, the Tagliavini report does
not
reveal too much on the U.S. role. Even if it had revealed a more
obvious role of U.S. military advisors in Tbilisi, it would not have

produced much of an impact. The report has been postponed for such
a
long time that the political situation has profoundly changed. What

value does Southern Ossetia have compared to Afghanistan, Iraq or
even
Lehman Bros? For Moscow, the Georgian conflict is part of the dark

Bush years; but, in the meantime, all sides progressed and are
showing
greater responsibility. There will certain be no lack of
opportunities to demonstrate this in the future."

Under the headline: "There is no Room For Georgia in NATO," Berliner

Zeitung (10/01) editorialized: "At the latest since yesterday it
must
be clear that there is no room for Georgia in NATO in the
foreseeable
future. Under the current leadership, the country would be a
security
risk for the Alliance as a whole. During the Bucharest summit in
2008, NATO promised to accept Georgia. Former President Bush wanted

it that way. Fortunately, Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy
were able to prevent the naming of a concrete date. In light of the

findings in the report, it would now be reasonable to withdraw this

promise for Georgia's accession. Since Russia has extended its
military presence in Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, an acceptance is

no longer realistic."

According to Die Welt (10/01), "it is important civil progress that

such a report complains about the suffering of civilians, but the
claim of the report that there are 'no winners in this conflict' is

based on wishful thinking. Real politicians in Russia know that the

Kremlin, with its punitive mission in Georgia, achieved an important

victory whose sobering effect reaches far beyond the Caucasus. By
creating a new mini state in the Caucasus, Russia created new facts.

It does not require a report of the European Commission to recognize

this."

Tagesspiegel (10/01) judged: "As long as the same actors both in
Georgia and in Russia are in power as during the brief war in
summer,
it is hardly imaginable that they will learn a lesson from the past.

On the contrary, the tensions are beginning to rise again. That is

why the question to the Europeans is all the more important: Why
did
they not act earlier? Let us remember one thing: after five days
[of
the war], France managed to achieve a cease-fire between he parties
in

BERLIN 00001228 004 OF 004


the conflict. Would a similarly courageous intervention in the
preparatory stages of the war probably have prevented it?"

Regional daily Volksstimme of Magdeburg (10/01) judged: "If more
evidence had been necessary to discuss who caused the Caucasian war,

then the EU report is delivering it. It was Georgia's President
Saakashvili.... But the Russians only seemed to have waited for the

opportunity to checkmate Georgia by using force. Both parties are
to
blame that the war almost turned into an international crisis. What

is left is a humiliated Georgia and two mock republics at the mercy
of
Moscow. Not even the EU can change that."

Regional daily Nrnberger Zeitung (10/01) argued; "What would have
happened if Georgia had been a NATO member on August 8, 2008? Would

Saakashvili's lie have been enough to prompt other NATO members to
back Georgia and to plunge the Alliance into a conflict with Russia?

Former Foreign Minister Steinmeier had always warned against a
speedy
enlargement to the East. The new government should continue to back

this legacy."

Badische Neueste Nachrichten of Karlsruhe (10/01) observed: "Western

diplomats in Tbilisi already warned in May 2008 that there were
active
warmongers in the Georgian government. But the international
community only watched and underestimated the seriousness of the
situation; it acted too late and was not resolute enough. It did
not
succeed in preventing the hothead Saakashvili from stopping the
escalation. The Caucasus is suffering from the consequences even
today. But the West in particular will take years to restore
damaged
relations with Russia."

4. (Afghanistan) Future Strategy

Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/01) headlined "Obama discusses
Afghanistan"
and wrote in its intro: "President Obama has started consultations
over the future strategy on Afghanistan on Wednesday. In this first

of five rounds of negotiations, VP Biden, Secretaries Clinton and
Gates as well as Admiral Mullen and General Petraeus participated."

Weekly Die Zeit (10/01) noted: "Afghanistan could be more dangerous
to
Obama than Iran. The President has made Afghanistan his war....
The
war in Afghanistan is about to enter year nine and an increasing
number of Americans can no longer see that it makes sense. Obama
appears to be hesitating... If he does not stop the debate between
the
generals and the Vice President immediately, he will damage his
authority."

DELAWIE

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