Γάλλος σύμβουλος για το Σκοπιανό – 09PARIS1254

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 001254

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2018
TAGS: PREL PARM KNNP BH SM MK GR FR
SUBJECT: A/S GORDON’S MEETINGS WITH POLICY-MAKERS IN PARIS:
A TOUR D’HORIZON OF EUROPE AND AFGHANISTAN

Classified By: Ambassador Charles Rivkin, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1.  (S) Summary.  During Assistant Secretary Gordon’s visit
to Paris on September 11, he met with a number of French
policy-makers including: Elysee Diplomatic Advisors
Jean-David Levitte, Damien Loras, and Francois Richier,
Assistant Secretary equivalent for Continental Europe Roland
Galharague, and Acting Director of MFA Strategic Affairs
bureau Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel.  Discussions focused on
Russia, upcoming developments in the Balkans (Bosnia,
Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo), elections in Germany and
Afghanistan, Turkey’s EU Accession, NATO Enlargement and
Strategic Concept, and Georgia and Ukraine.  End Summary.

————————————-
AFGHANISTAN: A MAJOR PRIORITY
————————————-

2.  (C) Jean-David Levitte noted that while public opinion in
France is opposed to the war in Afghanistan, the situation
here is much calmer than in the UK, Germany, or Italy.
Angela Merkel’s domestic political situation after the
incident in Kunduz was particularly fragile, so that was part
of the rationale behind the recent German-French-UK letter to
UN SYG Ban Ki Moon to propose an international conference on
Afghanistan by the end of the year.  Levitte said that the
goal of the conference would be to accelerate and improve the
training of Afghan troops and police and to strengthen Afghan
state institutions, which will help reinforce the importance
of the international effort to skeptical publics.  They are
now waiting for Ban Ki Moon’s response.  Levitte emphasized
that France remains “totally engaged” in Afghanistan with no
limits or caveats on its troops.  This autumn, France will
complete a transfer of troops from Kabul to Kapisa and Surobi
provinces (a presence that will be reinforced on the ground
as France reassigns some sailors to other regional activities
and replaces them with ground troops).  A/S Gordon assured
Levitte that the U.S. would soon be able to share the
elements of the McChrystal military review with Allies.
Levitte responded by praising General McChrystal and saying
that French forces have an excellent dialogue with him on the
ground.  He added that Germany and the UK are determined to
stay in Afghanistan as needed, but we may need to convince
the Netherlands to remain, and that President Sarkozy had
recently reinforced this message in a meeting with Dutch PM
Balkenende.

——————————————-
BOSNIA: FRENCH URGE TRANFER TO EU AUTHORITY
——————————————-

3.  (C) Levitte noted that of the five major conditions
required to transfer authority in Bosnia from the UN High
Representative to an EU High Representative, four have been
fulfilled, and only the question of division of state
property remains.  This final condition should not alone
“block all progress,” especially as the current UN team in
Bosnia is no longer effective.  France wants to see the
transfer of authority to a new EU team in November, as the
rapprochement to Europe is an effective “carrot” to encourage
the Bosniaks to continue progress in necessary reforms.  A/S
Gordon agreed that the current system is not working well,
but noted that the international community will lose
credibility if we move forward before all the necessary
pre-conditions have been fulfilled.  He added that the U.S.
agrees that some form of carrot is necessary to urge Bosnian
compliance.  Levitte noted that they still have two months to
urge Bosnian progress before a final decision is made.  In a
separate meeting, Assistant Secretary equivalent for
Continental Europe Roland Galharague said that “transition is
the number one objective,” suggested the division of state
property will take much time to resolve, and urged the U.S.
to support early transfer of authority that would open the
door to Bosnian aspirations for greater integration into EU
institutions.  He noted that the growing perception of
divisions between the US and Bosniaks on one side who favored
retaining the UN role and the EU and Serbs on the other
created unhelpful opportunities for manipulation.  A/S Gordon
said this perception was inaccurate, but noted the U.S. is
sensitive to the political need for Bosniak leaders to sell
this decision to their publics.  The USG needs to see a clear
path ahead for transition in order to support it.

—————————————–
KOSOVO AND SERBIA
—————————————–

4.  (C) Levitte noted that the EULEX mission is having
diplomatic problems with the Kosovar government and public

PARIS 00001254  002 OF 004

after signing two technical protocols with Serbia.  They are
hoping to ensure continued calm as Kosovo heads into
municipal elections.  A/S Gordon stated that the Kosovars
will have to accept the protocols but that it should be
clearly explained that these are technical agreements that
have no impact on Kosovo’s independent status.  Levitte also
criticized Serbian FM Jeremic, saying that he is doing
nothing to encourage Serb return or participation in Kosovo’s
government.  Levitte noted that Jeremic “makes big promises”
every time he comes to France, but doesn’t follow through.
Levitte no longer meets with him and does not consider him to
be the “modern face of Belgrade” that he purports to be.

—————————————–
MACEDONIA AND CROATIA
—————————————–

5.  (C) Levitte expressed optimism that a new Greek
government would be “more solid” and allow greater
flexibility for progress in the Greek-Macedonian name
dispute.  A/S Gordon agreed that either a more solid
Conservative government or a Socialist government would be a
stronger, more flexible partner in the negotiations.  He
expressed hope that if the international community could
convince Macedonia to abandon the idea of a referendum and
get Greece to abandon the necessity of changing passports,
then progress could be made. 
On Croatia, Levitte observed
that the border issue with Slovenia is making progress.  He
hoped that the upcoming September elections in Germany would
also allow th
e new German government to be more open to EU
enlargement to include the Balkan countries.  Paris wants the
door to enlargement to remain open, even if the accession
process takes time.

—————————————-
CONCERNS ABOUT TURKEY
—————————————-

6.  (C) Levitte informed A/S Gordon that there had been no
change in the French position advocating a “privileged
partnership” between the European Union and Turkey, in lieu
of EU membership.  However, he emphasized that France was not
preventing accession negotiations from progressing on all the
EU chapters that do not pre-suppose membership.  There remain
plenty of chapters of the acquis to open, so if progress is
not being made, the fault lies with Turkish intransigence on
Cyprus.  Unfortunately, Ankara is not completing the required
necessary reforms and progress has stalled.  Levitte
anticipated a negative report this fall on Turkey’s failure
to fulfill the Ankara Protocol.  A/S Gordon said that Turkey
was caught in a vicious cycle and it is not completing
necessary reforms because the Turks do not believe that their
EU candidacy will be allowed to progress, and at the same
time, their negotiations are not progressing because they
aren’t completing the required reforms.  He noted that in the
latest German Marshall Fund polls in Turkey, fewer that 30%
of the Turkish public believes they will succeed in getting
EU membership.

7.  (C) Levitte agreed, but noted that Paris hopes that it
will be the Turks themselves who realize that their role is
best played as a bridge between the two worlds of Europe and
Asia, rather than anchored in Europe itself.  He stated that
Turkey is in a difficult position as it wants to enter the EU
but has refused to accept one of the other EU member states.
Levitte predicted that a worse case scenario would be if
Turkey finally manages to complete the acquis and end
negotiations and a public referendum is held in France which
is finally opposed to their membership.  Despite all of these
problems, Levitte claimed that President Sarkozy is a friend
of Turkey and has visited the country at least 10 times in
his life.

—————————————–
RUSSIA AND GEORGIA
—————————————–

8.  (C)  A/S Gordon described the challenges and frustrations
of the U.S.- Russia relationship, which is based on finding
areas where we can work together on our common interest.  He
noted progress at the July summit meeting on such issues as
START talks and transfer of lethal material through Russia to
Afghanistan.  Galharague described Russia as a state with the
trappings of democracy but without any mechanisms for the
public to influence government decision-making.  “The root of
the problem is the regime,” he said.  Presidential advisor
Loras added Russian leaders lacked sufficient, long-range
vision for their country and instead, focused on a six-month
time horizon and their business interests.  Galharague

PARIS 00001254  003 OF 004

described the French strategy as finding a balance between
treating Russia as if it is too important or treating it like
an enemy. The French observed that some in Russia have
concluded their interests are served by keeping the west
“tied down in an Afghanistan quagmire” and by sustaining the
status quo in Iran.  He elaborated that a solution that
thwarts Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and restores Iran as
a normal member of the international community could
undermine Russian regional and energy interests.  Loras noted
of late the Russians have been unhelpful on Iran.   Moreover,
they appear to have concluded they can pocket a projected
U.S. decision to scale back or abandon the Bush
administration’s Missile Defense initiative without paying
any cost.

9.  (C) Looking ahead on the energy front, Loras predicted
that substantial Russian under-investment in energy
extraction infrastructure was such that Russia would not be
able to meet European demand in four or five years.  He
observed this created an opportunity for Russia to have even
more leverage over a Europe that has not prepared to
diversify its energy supplies. In response to a question on
Russia’s decision to suspend negotiations on World Trade
Organization membership in favor of a customs union with
Kazakhstan and Belarus,  A/S Gordon replied the U.S. would
continue a policy review on Missile Defense to take the right
decision based on the merits.   On Russian actions regarding
the WTO, he said that Moscow’s decision was likely supported
by Russians whose interests were not advanced by opening
markets.  Galharague observed that failure to advance WTO
membership for Russia had negative implications for
EU-Russian trade relations as progress in this EU effort
pre-supposed progress on Russian accession to the WTO. Loras
reported the coming year will involve substantial
Franco-Russian interactions.  This engagement would include a
visit by French Prime Minister Fillon to Russia in September,
a visit to France by Putin in November, a state visit to
France by Medvedev in March, and a Sarkozy visit to Russia in
2010 on the margins of the St. Petersburg forum.  These
visits would occur under the auspices of reciprocal “Year of
France” events in Russia and “Year of Russia” events in
France.

10.  (C) Levitte and A/S Gordon discussed the “dangerous”
precedent of ships being intercepted in Georgian waters.
Sarkozy Advisor Damien Loras noted that President Saakashvili
has a French advisor who has informed Paris that Georgian
ships have orders to respond if fired upon.  This can
escalate and the French message has been to emphasize that
Georgia must not respond to provocation, as that would only
play into Russia’s hands.  Levitte stressed the importance of
maintaining the Geneva process, while noting that it may take
a generation before the Russian public will be able to accept
their loss of influence, from Poland and the Baltics to
Ukraine and Georgia.  Unfortunately, the Russian tendency is
to view “good neighbors” as totally submissive subordinates.
On the other hand, Paris is closely watching Medvedev, who is
more frequently taking public stances in opposition to Putin.
Medvedev is more open to the occidental powers and more open
to modernization and rule of law issues that Russia must
face.  A/S Gordon observed that President Obama had spent a
good deal of time with Medvedev on his trip to Russia, and
had specifically targeted Russian youth in his public
outreach event.  In his meeting with Galharague and others,
A/S Gordon noted that the U.S. pursues a policy to support
Georgia in the face of Russian pressure without encouraging
President Saakashvili to act in ways that are unhelpful.

———————-
——————-
IRAN: NEXT STEPS
—————————————–

11.  (S/NF)  Levitte noted that the Iranian response to the
overture of President Obama and the West was “a farce,”
although Russia had received it as a real initiative.  The
current Iranian regime is effectively a fascist state and the
time has come to decide on next steps.  Levitte stated that
this is why Paris is advocating a meeting of the EU3 PLUS 3
on the margins of the Pittsburgh G20 meeting.  The French
hope to approve a two-paragraph statement laying out next
steps on negotiations or sanctions.  He noted that German
Chancellor Angela Merkel shares the view of the French
President and is willing to be firm on sanctions, but that FM
Steinmeier was more cautious.  The Iranian regime must
understand that it will be more threatened by economic harm
and the attendant social unrest than it would be by
negotiating with the West.  Unfortunately, the P-3 cannot
remain passive until Russia and China finally lose patience;

PARIS 00001254  004 OF 004

this is why a high-level political meeting is important to
advance this discussion (and Levitte cited President
Sarkozy’s frank and direct style, saying that he would
pinpoint Medvedev to explain his position).  Levitte said
that he informed the Chinese FM that if they delay until a
possible Israeli raid, then the world will have to deal with
a catastrophic energy crisis as well.  At the same time, the
debate over stopping the flow of gasoline into Iran will be
very sensitive and would have to take into account which
countries would be only too willing to step in and replace
European companies.  Levitte informed us that they would like
President Sarkozy to talk to President Obama by telephone in
the coming days to discuss the G20 and Iran.  The French are
proposing two possible windows to schedule the call.

—————————————-
NATO’S ENLARGEMENT AND STRATEGIC CONCEPT
—————————————-

12.  (C) Levitte said that France was very pleased with the
selection of Madeleine Albright to chair the “Group of 12,”
which will launch the process of reviewing NATO’s Strategic
Concept.  Bruno Racine will be the French participant on the
panel, and Levitte stressed that there is already strong
agreement between France and the United States on the basis
of exchanges that he has had with NSA General Jim Jones.
Levitte noted that Paris agreed with Jones on suppressing the
Membership Action Plan (MAP), which had become an obstacle
rather than an incentive.  A/S Gordon responded that we must
not change the process in a way that would be interpreted as
suggesting an end to NATO enlargement and eliminating MAP
might do that.  Levitte agreed and added that French
President Sarkozy was “convinced” that Ukraine would one day
be a member of NATO, but that there was no point in rushing
the process and antagonizing Russia, particularly if the
Ukrainian public was largely against membership.  The
Bucharest summit declaration was very clear that NATO has an
open door and Ukraine and Georgia have a vocation in NATO
(even if Georgia remains very unstable at the moment).
Levitte added that Paris was very pleased with the ceremony
on September 9 transferring the Allied Command Transformation
(ACT) to French General Stephane Abrial.

——————————–
VENEZUELA
——————————–

13.  (C) Levitte observed that Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez is “crazy” and said that even Brazil wasn’t able to
support him anymore.  Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of
the richest countries in Latin America and turning it into
another Zimbabwe.

14.  (U) Assistant Secretary Gordon has cleared this message.
RIVKIN

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/09/09PARIS1254.html.

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