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Cablegate: Informal Advisor to Papandreou Sheds Light On Gog Internal

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DE RUEHTH #1717/01 3542205
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 202205Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1241
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0216
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 0034
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 0035
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS

C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 001717

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/21
TAGS: PREL PGOV GR TU MK CY
SUBJECT: INFORMAL ADVISOR TO PAPANDREOU SHEDS LIGHT ON GOG INTERNAL
DYNAMICS AND REGIONAL CHALLENGES

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

SUMMARY

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

1. (C) PolCouns and PolOff met December 3 with Paulina Lampsa, head
of the PASOK International Secretariat, to discuss internal
dynamics and key players in the Papandreou Administration and the
current state of play in Cyprus and Turkey. Lampsa discussed her
role and that of other semi-official advisors to the government,
while also acknowledging public concerns over the abundance of
backchannel conversations. Recently in Cyprus, Lampsa highlighted
several potholes to be navigated in Cypriot internal politics and
also raised concern about Greek economic and media opposition to a
solution. Turning to other regional matters, Lampsa talked about
the need for the government to develop an overall strategy on
Turkey and for Alternate Foreign Dimitris Droutsas to be given
more time to
work the Macedonia name issue. In her estimation the
election of Antonis Samaras as the new leader of main
(center-right) opposition party ND will make it harder for Prime
Minister George Papandreou to navigate a way forward on these
issues.

INFORMAL ADVISORS

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

2. (C). Paulina Lampsa, the International Secretary for PASOK and
an informal advisor to PM Papandreou, is a regular contact of the
political section at Embassy Athens. She oversees Papandreou's
international travel and work as President of Socialist
International. She is also responsible for managing Papandreou's
non-diplomatic networks and advising on foreign policy and
communication strategies. She runs a small but expanding office
that is set apart from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and PASOK
party headquarters. Lampsa held this position prior to PASOK's
electoral win in October and says that she asked to stay on in her
current role, rather be brought into government as a Deputy
Minister. Preferring to work directly for Papandreou, Lampsa did
not want to have to report to a different Minister. She
"sometimes" coordinates with the MFA but otherwise acts as a direct
informal advisor to PM Papandreou, before input is sought within
the government.

3. (C) Lampsa noted that Alex Rondos has also been acting as an
informal advisor out of the limelight and has been taking on
special cases and projects on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Although an informal advisor herself, Lampsa acknowledged the
potential for confusion and crossed lines, expressing concern that
there was too much "secret diplomacy" going on within the current
administration and that many at the working level in the MFA were
not receiving information on sensitive issues. In her words,
"there is a danger in not informing government of where they are
getting information."

CYPRUS

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

4. (C) Lampsa described the timeline for movement in Cyprus to be
between now and mid-February, seeing upcoming elections in the
"TRNC" as more of a driving force for progress than December EU
meetings to discuss Turkish EU accession. Both the Greek Cypriot
and Turkish Cypriot leaders understand that movement is needed in
order to demonstrate their positive leadership going into the
election.

5. (C) Qpsa recently met with Republic of Cyprus President
Demetris Christofias and assesses that he wants to "move" on the
issues being negotiated and is working with Greece to determine the
best way to bring about progress. However, several internal and
external issues block movement. Lampsa expressed concern that
certain factions within both Cyprus and Greece oppose a solution
and will actively work against resolution and reunification of the
island. Christofias cannot trust elements in his own coalition
government. Lampsa described Christofias as having a "communist
party mentality" where interlocutors have to read between the
lines; some messages are not clear.

6. (C) Lampsa also assessed that internal dynamics at play in
Cyprus make it hard for Greece to work issues through the "right"
channels. As an example, Lampsa said that Cypriot President
Christofias does not trust his Foreign Minister and therefore Greek
messages passed through the Cypriot Foreign Ministry will not
elicit the desired response. However, Christofias would never
publicly undermine FM Kyprianou and therefore messages continue to
be communicated through foreign ministry channels.

7. (C) Lampsa's assessment is that a carefully crafted media and
communication strategy is sorely needed, in order to pave the way
for public support for a solution. There should be coordinated
messages delivered by the leadership but also via influential
columnists with the ability and legitimacy to advocate for a
solution and explain the dangers posed if current talks fail. The
time to move on these efforts is now.

8. (C) Certain media and economic personalities in Greece are also
opposed to a solution. In particular, Lampsa sees the Bobolos
media group, including newspapers Ethnos, Protothemis, Parent,
Makedonia (in Thessaloniki) and the Mega Channel on television as
working against the process. On the other side, Lampsa said the
Lambrakis media group (which includes Ta Nea, To Vima and the
influential website INGR) and certain elements associated with
Kathermerini are willing to support resolution of the Cyprus
conflict. (Comment: In our estimation, the Greek newspapers
referenced above are not necessarily as influential as the
newspapers in Cyprus itself. Television stations in Cyprus may be
somewhat anti-Annan plan but are not necessarily anti-solution.)

GREEK- TURKISH DIPLOMACY: NEED TO DESIGNATE A NEW POINT
PERSON--------------------------------------- --------------------

9. (C) Lampsa characterized Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan as being
less predictable than Papandreou's former Turkish interlocutor,
Ismail Cem. The Greek administration knows relations will be "very
sensitive" around the time of the December EU summit, and will
therefore proceed with caution.

10. (C) Lampsa seemed perplexed by the amount of information on
recent Greek-Turkish interactions that Turkey was sharing publicly,
citing Turkish officials' public comments on a letter from Turkish
PM Erdogan to Papandreou and recent meetings with both Turkey's
Foreign Minister and Chief EU Negotiator as examples. In contrast,
information seems to be tightly guarded on the Greek side; Lampsa
claimed that the Greek MFA's Turkey desk is not necessarily in the
loop regarding high-level discussions with the Turks. She has
lobbied in favor of designating a point person - with access to the
Prime Minister's cabinet - to work on an overarching strategy for
Greek relations with Turkey. Pavlos Apostolides has been rumored
for the position. (Note: Currently an advisor at the Athens-based
think tank ELIAMEP, Apostolides has held several high profile
government positions, including Greek Ambassador to Cyprus,
Permanent Representative to the European Union Secretary General of
the MFA and Director of the National Intelligence Agency. End Note)


EFFECT OF NEW ND LEADERSHIP ON DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

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

11. (C) With the election of Samaras as the head of center-right
opposition party New Democracy (ND), Lampsa estimates that
Papandreou's PASOK-led government will face greater criticism and
constraints in negotiations with Skopje and Ankara. Samaras, who
was the more conservative of the main candidates in the ND
leadership race, is expected to try to woo far-right LAOS party
members into his camp. In turn, this could shift the ND party to
the right.

12. (C) Lampsa also expressed concern with Samaras' choice of Panos
Panayotopoulos as the new ND party spokesman, claiming that
Panayiotopoulos is known for his nationalist rhetoric and may try
to bring nationalist language into mainstream discussions. (Note:
Panayotopoulos was Minister of LQr under the Karamanlis Sr.
administration and is currently a Member of Parliament. Samaras
appointed him as the new ND spokesman the first week of December.
End Note) Samaras' rumored pick for a shadow cabinet position,
John Korantis, would also be problematic in Lampsa's view because
of his former role as the head of the Greek National Intelligence
Agency and the possibility that he could leak sensitive
information.
Speckhard

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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