Cablegate: Eu President Van Rompuy's Plans Following
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHBS #0004/01 0041350
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041350Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9869
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDHN/DIA DH WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 000004
STATE FOR EUR/FO, EUR/ERA AND EUR/WE FROM AMBASSADOR GUTMAN
E.O. 12958 DECL: 01/04/2029
TAGS PREL, PGOV, EU, SENV, PINR, BE
SUBJECT: EU PRESIDENT VAN ROMPUY’S PLANS FOLLOWING
COPENHAGEN AND FOR AFGHANISTAN
REF: 2009 STATE 122247
Classified By: Charge D’ Affaires Richard M. Eason for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
1. (C//NF) Summary: The Ambassador discussed the Conference of Parties (COP) Conference in Copenhagen and Afghanistan with EU Council Permanent President Herman Van Rompuy over coffee December 23 after delivering the congratulatory letter (reftel) from President Obama. Van Rompuy called the Copenhagen Conference a disaster in which Europe was excluded and mistreated. He predicted Mexico COP 16 would be a disaster as well, and added that multilateral conferences would not resolve the climate problem. He proposed coming to an agreement between the EU and the United States during the possible upcoming U.S. - EU Summit in Madrid, and then approaching China to achieve a workable solution. On Afghanistan, Van Rompuy opined that no one in Europe believed in Afghanistan anymore. He said Europe was going along in deference to the United States; there must be results in 2010, or Afghanistan is over for Europe. End Summary.
Coffee with EU President Van Rompuy
2. (U) As instructed (reftel), I delivered the letter of congratulations from President Obama to new EU Council Permanent President Herman Van Rompuy on December 23. The meeting was arranged by his new Chief of Staff Frans Van Daele. I did not mean to engage in any substantive discussions nor enter into a domain better left to Ambassador Kennard. However, both Van Daele and Van Rompuy are friends of mine, and they invited me to have some coffee for about an hour. Given the holiday period, the EU Building was virtually empty and both men seemed to have time to spare. We first discussed many social pleasantries: moving to new office space, the holidays, and family.
Copenhagen was a disaster for Europe
3. (C//NF) Van Rompuy raised the recent COP 15 conference in Copenhagen, calling it an “incredible disaster.” He was not angry, in the sense that he never seems angry, but he was as animated and as frustrated as I have seen him. He thought that Europe had been “totally excluded” and was “mistreated.” He thought the only saving grace was that he was not there. Van Rompuy said, “had I been there, my Presidency would have been over before it began.” He said he was criticized for not being present in Copenhagen, and added that he did not need to be there because he does not start in his new position until January 1. He thought it was a wise decision not to attend the conference despite the pressure.
4. (C//NF) I responded by saying that I had no idea what actually happened since I was not there, but offered that from the reports I was seeing, it looked more like a chaotic meeting had occurred rather than any decision to exclude Europe. But Van Rompuy did not give that explanation much credence, responding, “they could certainly have called Europe and told us to come.”
5. (C//NF) Van Rompuy did seem to ascribe some blame to Europe. He said, “no one knows who to call: Merkel, Barroso, who knows who.” He said he planned to take control of getting Europe on the same page. He mentioned that he had scheduled an informal EU meeting in February to discuss the economy, but he was now going to use the meeting to discuss Copenhagen in addition to the economy. He intends to get the EU lined up.
U.S. and EU Need to Talk Climate at Madrid
6. (C//NF) Van Rompuy said he has, “given up on Mexico City,” with Van Daele calling the planned U.N. COP 16 meeting to be held there November to December 2010 “Nightmare on Elm Street 2,” and stating, “who wants to see that horror movie again.” Van Rompuy said, “multilateral meetings will not work.” He indicated that Europe first had to get on the same page; then Europe had to meet with the U.S.; and finally they (I think he meant Europe and the U.S.) had to meet as well with China. Rather than waiting for a failure at Mexico City, he intends to address Copenhagen issues with the United States at Madrid; he envisioned engaging China thereafter. In his mind, talks with the U.S. would have to focus on Madrid and
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not Mexico City.
7. (C//NF) We talked briefly about my having opened the residence to the press to watch President Obama,s Afghanistan speech live at 2:00 am Belgian time on December 1. That led Van Rompuy briefly to address Afghanistan. He said it was, “the last chance. Europe is doing it and will go along out of deference to the United States but not out of deference to Afghanistan. No one believes in Afghanistan any more. But we will give it 2010 to see results. If it doesn,t work, that will be it because it is the last chance. And if a Belgian gets killed, it would be over for Belgium right then.”
8. (U) We parted with holiday wishes and talked about seeing an Anderlecht football (soccer) game soon. I told him I was leaving him in the good hands of U.S. Ambassador to the EU Bill Kennard but would continue to see him socially.
9. (C//NF) Comment: Van Rompuy’s Chief of Staff Frans Van Daele is Belgium’s premier diplomat. He is a former Ambassador to the United States, Permanent Representative to NATO, to the EU, and most recently, Chief of Staff to outgoing Belgian Foreign Minister, and now Prime Minister Yves Leterme. Much of what Van Rompuy said might be attributed to the pro-American Van Daele, who could have recommended that this appointment be used to deliver the messages on Copenhagen and Afghanistan. End Comment.