Cablegate: Africa: New Africa Minister Focus On Traditional
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHLO #2723/01 3381532
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041532Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4184
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1520
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002723
DEPARTMENT FOR AF/FO, AF/RSA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/04/2019
TAGS: PREL PINR SENV EAID XA EU UK
SUBJECT: AFRICA: NEW AFRICA MINISTER FOCUS ON TRADITIONAL
UK PRIORITIES, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND EU ENGAGEMENT Classified By: DCM Richard LeBaron, reasons 1.4 (b/d). 1. (C/NF) Summary. Newly appointed Foreign Office Africa Minister Baroness Glenys Kinnock told the DCM December 4 that she will focus on the UK's traditional priorities in Africa - including Zimbabwe, Sudan, the Great Lakes/DRC, Somalia, Nigeria, and South Africa - as well as climate change and the UK's engagement with the EU on Africa. She described her general approach to Africa as working together with African governments and civil society by providing the necessary resources to enable Africans to implement their own solutions, as imposed solutions have not worked in the past. She said the UK's influence and collaboration within the EU is a multiplier for the UK's Africa policies, as the voice of the entire EU carries more weight than the UK alone. She assessed that implementation of the EU's Lisbon Treaty will give European Commission diplomatic missions on the continent more influence and increase member states' cooperation through the creation of the High Representative of Foreign Affairs position and External Action Service as the authoritative voice on Europe's foreign policy. Kinnock suggested this would make it easier for the USG to engage the EU on Africa policy. Kinnock said she is also focused on the "shared responsibility" of addressing climate change, especially because many African countries will receive the worst effects of rising global temperatures. (Bio info starting in para 6.) End summary.
Approach: African Solutions to African Problems, Working Through the EU --------------------------------------------- ---
2. (C/NF) Foreign Office Africa Minister Baroness Glenys Kinnock, who shifted from her position as Foreign Office Minister for Europe in October 2009, told the DCM on December 4 her approach on Africa is to work together with African governments and civil society by providing the necessary resources to enable Africans to implement their own solutions, as imposed solutions have not worked in the past. She specifically cited the need to improve public health in Africa by supporting the health infrastructure and to increase public education through increasing the number of primary schools. She said the UK bilaterally will continue to focus on its traditional priorities in Africa, based largely on the "old colonies." Through influence and collaboration in the EU, Kinnock said the UK is able to multiply the effectiveness of its policies by maintaining interests across the continent and promoting common positions; she cited Zimbabwe as an example where the UK has carried the EU's policy. She said that the UK will continue to give approximately thirty percent of its development assistance budget through the EU.
3. (C/NF) Strongly pro-EU, Kinnock said the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty will give European Commission diplomatic missions on the continent more influence and increase member states' cooperation through the creation of the High Representative of Foreign Affairs position and External Action Service as the authoritative voice on Europe's foreign policy, also making it easier for the USG to engage the EU on its foreign policies. She suggested that this will make it easier for the EU to create policies in line with the Paris Principles, though said it was unfortunate that the European Commission has a separate Humanitarian Assistance Commissioner and Development Assistance Commissioner. She said the UK is actively working within the EU to ensure that each of these commissioners will have control of their own budgets to ensure that aid does not become too politicized. She said the UK will maintain its current level of spending approximately thirty percent of its development assistance budget through the EU and suggested that small EU countries have been able to reach development assistance targets of 0.7 percent of GDP, like Denmark and Sweden, because the European Commission provides them a mechanism through which they can deliver aid.
Climate Change --------------
4. (C/NF) Kinnock said she is focused on the "shared responsibility" of addressing climate change, especially because many African countries will receive the worst effects of rising global temperatures. She said global issues, like food security and climate change, are jointly dealt with by the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development (DFID). She said her specific interest is in finding effective means to fund adaptation and mitigation LONDON 00002723 002 OF 002 programs in Africa.
Specific Priority Countries ---------------------------
5. (C/NF) Kinnock said she was particularly interested in the Great Lakes region and the Congo, Sudan (where the elections and potential succession of the South could destabilize the region), Somalia (where al-Qaeda's training of young extremists is "very worrying"), and the transnational issues in West Africa. On Zimbabwe, she said she was "more optimistic" with South African President Zuma's increased interest in the problem, including agreement to facilitate implementation of the Global Peace Agreement and activity in SADC to get the region more involved. She noted, however, that there remains little progress on the more contentious issues, such as constitutional reform, media and justice reform, and election preparations. She also said she had already traveled to South Africa and Nigeria since her appointment and plans to travel to South Sudan and Juba in early 2010.
Bio Info --------
6. (C/NF) Described as "Euro-fanatic" by a right-leaning newspaper, Baroness Kinnock joined the Foreign Office as a Minister of State in June 2009, when she became a member of the House of Lords. She first served as Minister of Europe before moving to her current position of Africa Minister in October. Contacts describe her as "a tough no nonsense politician who knows when to turn on the charm." She and her husband (Neil Kinnock) are politically very well connected in the UK, EU and U.S. Think tank pundits have suggested that she will fight to make sure Africa's voice is heard and that it receives a place at the table in the new global architecture. Pundits also say that she will be very active within the EU on Africa policy, potentially framing many of the policies that emerge in a post-Lisbon Treaty European Commission.
7. (C/NF) A Welsh politician, Kinnock served as a Member of the European Parliament between 1994 and 2009 and was a member of the European Parliament Development and Cooperation Committee from 1994 to 2009 and co-President of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly from 2002 to 2009. She was also the Spokesperson on International Development in the European Parliament.
8. (C/NF) Kinnock founded and is president of an NGO called One World Action, which focuses on governance and access to justice work in the developing world. She is a board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank, a patron of the Burma Campaign, and a Council Member of the Voluntary Service Overseas (similar to Peace Corps). She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, and holds an honorary doctorate.
9. (C/NF) Kinnock was born in 1944, educated at Holyhead Comprehensive School and University of Wales College Cardiff, where she received a degree in education and history. She has been a teacher in secondary, primary, and nursery schools. Kinnock's husband, Neil, is the former leader of the Labour Party (1983-1992) and Member of Parliament (1970-1995). He received a life peerage, becoming Baron Kinnock of Bedwellty, in 2005. From 1995 - 2004, Baron Kinnock served as the UK Commissioner of the European Commission. In 2004, he became the head of the British Council, but resigned in 2009 when Baroness Kinnock became Africa Minister for fear of a conflict of interest. He was also President of Cardiff University from 1998 to 2009 and is proud supporter of Cardiff City football club. The Kinnocks have two children and four grandchildren. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX