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Cablegate: Afghanistan Continues to Dominate Eu Ministerial

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PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHBS #1571/01 3271649
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231649Z NOV 09
FM USEU BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 001571

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID KDEM EUN AF
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN CONTINUES TO DOMINATE EU MINISTERIAL
AND WORKING LEVEL DISCUSSIONS

REF: BRUSSELS 1480

BRUSSELS 00001571 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) Summary: EU Foreign Ministers devoted considerable
time and attention to Afghanistan at their monthly GAERC
meeting November 16 and 17 (SEPTEL), with discussions on the
issue at their informal meeting November 16 with EU Defense
Ministers, their dinner November 16 with NATO Secretary
General Fogh Rasmussen, and their meeting with Development
Ministers November 17 at which UN Special Representative to
Afghanistan Kai Eide spoke. The Afghanistan conversation
dominated the opening dinner on November 16, forcing
postponement of a planned discussion on the EU-Russia Summit
to the next day. Kai Eide also delivered public remarks
November 16 to the Development Committee of the European
Parliament (EP), urging re-thinking of how European countries
deliver development assistance. Reflecting this heightened
attention, discussions among EU working-level contacts are
focusing on improving the EU's civilian efforts in
Afghanistan. On Pakistan, Council Secretariat and Commission
contacts admit this remains an area where the European Union
could do more. Despite the importance of these
Brussels-focused EU-wide discussions, decisions about
concrete increases in non-military and military assistance to
Afghanistan will be made mainly in member state capitals.
End Summary.

GAERC Discussions Focus on NATO-EU Cooperation and
Development Assistance

2. (SBU) Afghanistan issues figured prominently in the
November 16-17 "Jumbo GAERC," which brings EU Foreign
Ministers together for meetings with their Defense and
Development counterparts, and brought outside speakers to
address both civilian and military concerns. NATO Secretary
General Rasmussen spoke at the Ministers' November 16 dinner
meeting. A member of the Swedish representation to NATO told
USNATO that Rasmussen focused on four themes: the need to
work on an ISAF-EUPOL arrangement (making pointed comments
about the Greece/Turkey nexus in the follow-up press
statement); the importance e, urging
reference t rather than an "exit
@used on
increasing the EUPOL numbers, holdin' an extraordinary
meeting of Interior Ministries in Brussels November 10 to
encourage furthe participation in the mission. Reportedly,Q
the EU now has approximately 310 trainers for Qn original
mandate of 400. The Swedes again asked the gathered Foreign
Ministers to increasQ their countries' contribution to EUPOL.
Wit respect to the EU police mission in AfghaniQtan, FM
Bildt told the press, "We have appealed to the member states
to increase their contributions. We are making progress."
Bildt said the situation in Afghanistan required "strategic
patience."

4. (SBU) UN Special Representative to Afghanistan, Kai
Eide, spoke to the joint meeting of EU Foreign and
Development ministers about civilian efforts at what has been
described to us as a "very intense" November 17 meeting.
Echoing his previous day's speech to the European Parliament,
Eide emphasized the importance of reducing government
corruption in Afghanistan. He argued the need for increasing
the civilian role and improving civilian-military
coordination. He spoke bluntly about the weakness of the
United Nations in Kabul, and said there are essentially two
options: further decrease the role of the UN or
significantly increase it (his preferred option). Either
way, he argued, there is a need for an
internationally-recognized senior civilian representative who
will be able to partner with General McChrystal. "NATO alone
is not enough," he said, arguing there must be a strong
civilian apparatus in order to mobilize the Muslim world and
other international donors. Eide argued that PRTs are not
the proper vehicle for aid. He called for coordination among
donors and said international donors should change their

BRUSSELS 00001571 002.2 OF 003


focus and spend more money on activities that can generate
revenue for the Afghans themselves, instead of infrastructure
projects that he argued bring little economic activity. Eide
encouraged the EU to consult with the Afghans about new aid
projects, and reportedly said the U.S. did not talk to the
Europeans, but also did not consult the Afghans about their
priorities. Eide also announced that he was working on the
civilian equivalent of the McChrystal strategy paper and
would consult European countries and the EU about it.

5. (SBU) Eide's comments to the GAERC resonated with the
ongoing discussions among EU senior and working level
representatives in Brussels about increasing the civilian
role in Afghanistan. According to Council Secretariat
contacts, there is growing discussion about what is seen as
NATO/ISAF mission creep into civilian fields, but also
recognition that there currently is not a civilian voice
strong enough to successfully lobby for the civilian role on
the ground, given the UN's weak position. The EU Action plan
announced at the October GAERC (REFTEL) was meant to be a
first step in improving civilian coordination, but despite
significant pressure from the EU foreign ministers to quickly
implement the "dual-hatting" of the European Commission and
Special Representative Office in Kabul, it has been difficult
for the Council and Commission to draw up a workable plan for
the new operations. As an European Commission contact noted,
even if the missions were combined today, the same people
would be working there in the short term and it would be
August at the earliest before a new staff recruited to work
under the combined mission could be in place. Many see this
difficulty in coordinating even the European Union's own
approach as increasing the importance of quickly finding a
workable civilian representative.

Conference Must be Afghan-led

6. (SBU) Despite UK Prime Minister Brown's public offer to
host an international conference on Afghanistan in London,
many member states still prefer a Kabul-based conference to
foster more Afghan buy-in to the process. If Kabul is ruled
out for security reasons, Eide opined in his Brussels
statements, the Afghan government needed first to set out its
program to its own people. A later conference in Europe
could set the stage for the next five years of cooperation,
but it would be a mistake to do it too soon, without
preparation. Specifically citing the March 2009 conference
at The Hague, Eide noted that unprepared commitments usually
went unimplemented. A Council Secretariat contact noted to
us that no European countries were likely to challenge Brown
over London for the location of the conference, but stated
the European press has largely picked up Brown's comments
that the conference would possibly discuss military
withdrawal and thought this conference would be the wrong
place for such a discussion.

Pakistan - Falling Off the Agenda?

7. (SBU) While discussions on Afghanistan have intensified
in the EU, Pakistan rarely creeps into the conversation. A
Council Secretariat staff member recently said Pakistan has
fallen off the agenda since the AfPak Action Plan was
announced. He opined that the Spanish push to announce a
summit with Pakistan actually hurt engagement levels with
Pakistan, and that Pakistan has not been keeping currently
scheduled EU meetings (except for trade-related discussions).
Professional staff from the Commission and Council
Secretariat say they do not think the Summit (likely to occur
late in the Spanish Presidency, i.e., in late spring or early
summer 2010) will have any concrete deliverables. Contacts
say the United Kingdom is the only advocate for keeping
Pakistan high on the agenda of EU discussions. Council
Secretariat and Commission contacts separately voiced concern
that the Friends of Democratic Pakistan process is stagnant,
with regional actors and Pakistan absent from the scene.
Additionally, they note the U.S. has taken a strong lead on
the energy and electricity fields, leaving other countries
unsure about where else to invest funding, with many still
waiting for the Trust Fund.

Comment

8. (SBU) The European Union at a political level is clearly
committed to a civilian solution in Afghanistan, but is
having difficulty coordinating its own efforts, let alone a
broader international civilian focus. Brussels would welcome
a civilian plan that lays out a senior civilian
representative with the proper international standing. The
European Commission is currently preparing an implementation
program for its Action Plan, which is due out by the December
GAERC meeting. It will list the priority areas for EU

BRUSSELS 00001571 003.2 OF 003


assistance as defined in the Action Plan, including targeted
amounts of funding. The member states will be asked to fill
in their contributions. Despite the Commission plan, the
bulk of funding and thus the success of the effort remains
with member states, who individually must decide how much to
increase both military and non-military contributions. While
the Commission will be increasing its assistance for both
Afghanistan and Pakistan, such increases are modest in
comparison to the overall need. Rasmussen, Eide, and others
in Brussels have clearly emphasized that in addition to
soldiers, funding, civilians, and non-military assistance
will all be needed in the coming months. The European Union
has the ability to increase its support, but this must be
encouraged in capitals if we are to see a true increased
commitment.

MURRAY

.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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