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03ROME1992 2003-05-09 07:27:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

IMPROVING TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS TOP PRIORITY FOR

Tags:   PREL EU IT NATO 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: DURING A WIDE-RANGING CONVERSATION ON MAY
2 ABOUT THE CURRENT - AND FUTURE - STATE OF US/EU RELATIONS
AND PRIORITIES FOR THE UPCOMING ITALIAN EU PRESIDENCY, MFA
DIRGEN GIANCARLO ARAGONA TOLD VISITING USEU AMBASSADOR
SCHNABEL THAT HE IS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE FUTURE OF US/EU
RELATIONS. HIS VIEW IS THAT EUROPE'S BIGGEST WORRY IS THAT
THE US BECOMES "INDIFFERENT" TOWARDS TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS.
HE ENCOURAGED WASHINGTON TO USE EXCELLENT GOI/USG RELATIONS
TO ITS ADVANTAGE DURING THE ITALIAN EU PRESIDENCY. END
SUMMARY



2. (C) ARAGONA SAID THAT THE STATE OF TRANSATLANTIC
RELATIONS WAS UPPERMOST ON HIS AGENDA RECENTLY, NOTING
RECENT PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH U/S GROSSMAN AND A/S JONES ON
JUST THAT SUBJECT; MORE SPECIFICALLY, ON HOW TO USE THE
ITALIAN EU PRESIDENCY TO PUT TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS BACK ON
THE RIGHT TRACK. "IT WON'T BE EASY" ADMITTED ARAGONA. ALL
EU MEMBER STATES AGREE IN PRINCIPLE THAT RELATIONS BETWEEN
AMERICA AND EUROPE CAN'T CONTINUE AS THEY EXIST NOW. BUT
HOW, IN PRACTICE, TO ACHIEVE THE OBJECTIVE OF MORE AMICABLE
RELATIONS IN THE POLITICAL ARENA IS LESS CLEAR. ARAGONA
SUGGESTED STARTING WITH THE AREAS WHERE THE EU AND US ALREADY
SHARE COMMON GOALS - A NATO ROLE IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ, FOR
EXAMPLE, AND CONCURRENT "LOOSENING" OF NATO'S GEOGRAPHIC
FOCUS.



3. (C) AMBASSADOR SCHNABEL OBSERVED THAT THE VIEW AMONG SOME
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PAGE 03 ROME 01992 01 OF 02 090728Z
IN EUROPE, PARTICULARLY IN FRANCE, WAS THAT THE NEW US POLICY
TOWARDS EUROPE IS "DIVIDE AND CONQUER." ARAGONA DISAGREES
WITH THIS VIEW. HE OPINED THAT THE TRUE PROBLEM WAS A
PERCEPTION AMONG EUROPEANS THAT THERE HAS BEEN A DECREASE IN
THE "CENTRALITY" OF EUROPE IN US FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES,
AN OUTGROWTH OF POST-COLD WAR REALITIES, WHICH HAS CREATED A
DISTANCE BETWEEN THE EU AND US. ARAGONA SURMISED THAT THE
GREATEST FEAR IN EUROPE WAS NOT GROWING ANTI-EUROPEAN
SENTIMENT IN THE US, BUT RATHER "INDIFFERENCE," THE FEAR THAT
EUROPE WILL LOSE ITS IMPORTANCE THROUGH "POLITICAL NEGLECT"
IN THE US, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR RELATIONS TO GET BACK TO
NORMAL AFTER AMERICANS OVERCOME THEIR PRESENT RESENTMENT
TOWARDS EUROPE.



4. (C) AMB. SCHNABEL OBSERVED THAT THE US/EU SHOULD FOCUS ON
TRADE/ECONOMY, AS EACH OTHER'S LARGEST TRADING PARTNERS,
WHERE THERE WAS FAR MORE TO AGREE UPON THAN NOT - FOR
INSTANCE, ECONOMIC AND TRADE COMPETITION FROM CHINA, WHERE
THERE IS FAR LESS OVERHEAD AND REGULATION. ARAGONA AGREED,
BUT INSISTED THAT THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK IS FUNDAMENTAL.
CONFLICT MAY BE SEEN AS HEALTHY AND NORMAL WITHIN A
PARTNERSHIP, BUT IF THAT PARTNERSHIP WEAKENS, CONFLICT
THREATENS ITS EXISTENCE. EACH SIDE MUST ENCOURAGE EUROPEAN
GROWTH, BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE TRANSATLANTIC ALLIANCE.
ITALY HAS A LONG COMMITMENT TO EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT IN A
MANNER THAT PRESERVES AND ENHANCES TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS.
THIS WILL BE A PRIORITY OF THE ITALIAN PRESIDENCY.



5. (C) ARAGONA SAID THAT OVERALL HE WAS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE
FUTURE, BUT ADMITTED THAT THIS WAS "NOT AN EASY MOMENT" IN
EU/US RELATIONS. THE GOI INTENDED TO DO WHAT IT COULD DURING
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PAGE 04 ROME 01992 01 OF 02 090728Z
ITS PRESIDENCY TO ADDRESS THE SITUATION, AND HE ASKED FOR A
STRONG US RESPONSE AND INPUT TO THE PROCESS. HE ENCOURAGED
WASHINGTON TO USE EXCELLENT US/ITALIAN BILATERAL RELATIONS TO
ITS ADVANTAGE DURING THOSE SIX MONTHS.



6. (C) ON THE CONVENTION/CONSTITUTION, ARAGONA SAID THAT THE
GOAL OF ALL EU MEMBER STATES IS TO OPEN THE
INTER-GOVERNMENTAL CONFERENCE DURING THE ITALIAN PRESIDENCY,
AND TO CLOSE IT AS WELL, BUT ADMITTEDLY TIME IS TIGHT. THE
GOI WANTS TO AVOID JUDGING THE SUCCESS OF ITS PRESIDENCY
SOLELY ON COMPLETING A CONSTITUTION. EVEN IF DELIBERATIONS
CARRY OVER INTO THE IRISH PRESIDENCY, ARAGONA CLAIMED THAT
THERE WERE GROWING SIGNALS FROM OTHER EU MEMBERS THAT THERE
COULD STILL BE A SIGNING CEREMONY IN ROME.



7. (C) ARAGONA SAID THAT THE GOI WAS SATISFIED WITH THE
CONVENTION DEBATE THUS FAR, BUT THERE WAS SOME ROOM FOR
IMPROVEMENT. THE GOI IS STRONGLY COMMITTED TO EUROPEAN
INTEGRATION. IT REJECTS DOMESTIC CRITICISM (NOTE: MOSTLY
EMANATING FROM THE ITALIAN LEFT AND AIMED AT THE CURRENT
GOVERNMENT) THAT EQUATES DEFENDING NATIONAL POSITIONS WITH A
WEAKENING COMMITMENT TO EUROPE. NO ONE CRITICIZES FRANCE,
THE UK OR GERMANY FOR ASSERTIVE DEFENSE OF THEIR INTERESTS
WITHIN THE EU FRAMEWORK. "THIS IS POLITICAL BLACKMAIL," SAID

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PAGE 01 ROME 01992 02 OF 02 090728Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00
DS-00 EAP-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NRRC-00 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02
PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SCT-00 SP-00
SSO-00 SS-00 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 SSD-00 PMB-00
DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00 SSR-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
/005W


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

62567A 090729Z /38
O 090727Z MAY 03
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9756
USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 3219
INFO EU CANDIDATE STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMCONSUL FLORENCE PRIORITY
AMCONSUL MILAN PRIORITY
AMCONSUL NAPLES PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 ROME 001992

SIPDIS

EUR FOR PDAS RIES, EUR/ERA, EUR/WE, EUR/RPM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2013
TAGS: PREL EU EU IT NATO ITPREL NATO
SUBJECT: IMPROVING TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS TOP PRIORITY FOR
ITALY'S EU COUNCIL PRESIDENCY
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ROME 01992 02 OF 02 090728Z

ARAGONA "WHICH WE WILL NOT ACCEPT."
SEMBLER

CONFIDENTIAL

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2003ROME01992 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL