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Cablegate: What Is Stirring Nrw M-P Ruettgers On His Road to Elections

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RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHDF #0044/01 3071015
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031015Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0244
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0001
RUEHDF/AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF 0260

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SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR RON BLOOM, JEFF BAKER AND ICN (KOHLER)
STATE FOR EEB AND EUR/CE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EFIN ETRD ELAB SENV PL GM
SUBJECT: WHAT IS STIRRING NRW M-P RUETTGERS ON HIS ROAD TO ELECTIONS

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1. (U) Summary: During an October 28 introductory call by the
Consul General, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Minister-President
Juergen Ruettgers, newly returned from hosting federal coalition
negotiations at the NRW representation in Berlin, took stock of
national topics and the state of major policy initiatives of
President Obama, as well as the state of the global economy,
financial/banking controls, and the situation with the pending
sale of Opel. He also touched on his efforts on the Auschwitz
Foundation to preserve the former concentration camp's
infrastructure. His focus was on how the domestic could affect
the international. End summary.

Climate Change and the Economy

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

2. (U) Christian Democratic Union (CDU) M-P Ruettgers, who
couldn't resist noting NRW's status as the world's 17th largest
economy, focused on what President Obama might accomplish
domestically which could have international resonance. On the
upcoming Copenhagen climate change meeting, Ruettgers wondered
whether the U.S. will come prepared to offer more than domestic
regulatory advances and a changed attitude. He expressed
concern with what he understood was the U.S. Senate's refusal on
principle to ratify international treaties. The CG pointed out
that the President had recently pushed through a UN human rights
treaty that had languished for some years, indicating a
different approach by the new Administration.

3. (U) With regard to the world economic crisis, the M-P was
cautious. The prognosis here in Germany is that while the
economic downturn may have hit bottom, it is too early to
declare victory. It could be a long, slow slog before we would
really see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many companies
that have held on to workers in the hope of an upturn might
start letting people go, fuelling unemployment. As all seek to
stabilize financial institutions, he wondered whether the U.S.
administration would be prepared to agree to tougher
international regulatory standards, or would rely on domestic
changes. Asked what the alternative would be, Ruettgers
responded that agreement within the EU was the next best
alternative, though he worried about New York bankers lobbying
their UK counterparts to hold out. In that case, though
international regulation would be the preferable, they might
have to settle for Euro-zone regulation, which he saw as
attainable. He was betting the excess liquidity currently
searching for a home would, in the current more cautious
environment, find its way to those markets with the best, most
reliable regulatory standards. Though the U.S. was keen to gain
an influx of investment to finance its deficit, he saw the drop
in the value of the Dollar versus the Euro as a signal that
better regulatory regimes would win the day.

Opel

------

4. (SBU) Ruettgers then turned to the subject of the Opel sale
from GM to Magna. Shortly prior to the meeting, he had learned
that GM's board of directors had again delayed signing the
agreement finalizing the sale of Opel to Canadian company Magna
by another week. Complaining that the ongoing situation with
Opel has "cost (NRW) lots of money," Ruettgers emphasized that
whatever one thinks of Magna, Frank Stronach is "ready to sign,"
but GM management continues to create delays. He then went on
to say that if GM believes for a minute that NRW or any German
state would give a penny to GM if it tries to retain Opel, then
GM has seriously miscalculated. GM, he said, has made too many
mistakes in recent years, and now has no capital with which to
back up its bravado. Ruettgers explicitly exempted GM's chief
Opel negotiator Fritz Henderson from this criticism. The Opel
issue, he added, had been a topic of tough conversation during
the federal coalition negotiations, but he rejected German press
speculation that Rainer Bruederle (FDP), the new Federal

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Economics Minister, would reconsider the deal with Magna in
favor of a GM-based solution. Such unfounded speculation, as
well as problems with EU officials in Brussels, he implied, were
intentionally disseminated by GM in Detroit.

Saving Auschwitz

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

5. (U) An entirely different topic was Ruettgers' efforts to
work with the Auschwitz Foundation, including Polish Minister of
State Bartoszewski, to find a solution to the uncomfortable
problem of Auschwitz's crumbling infrastructure, and the even
more dire straits of Birkenau. The buildings were not built to
last, the bricks are disintegrating, and a solution must be
found, according to Ruettgers. As the only German member of the
Foundation, Ruettgers was clear in his determination to work
toward a solution.

Comment: A Topic that Hit Home

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

5. (SBU) Ruettgers was clearly agitated when discussing Opel and
GM. He can be expected to oppose any deal where GM would retain
Opel as a full subsidiary, since he likely fears the plant in
Bochum, NRW would be one of the first victims of such a
solution. At the very least, he would be keen to avoid a
decision on the future of Bochum until after the May 9, 2010 NRW
state elections. Though passionate on the Opel issue, Ruettgers
went out of his way to be forthcoming and friendly, and to
underscore the importance for NRW - and its economy - of
continued strong ties with the U.S.

6. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.
WEINER

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