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04BRUSSELS4960 2004-11-22 10:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

MALTA SEEKS US SUPPORT FOR PLAN TO RESOLVE NATO/EU

Tags:   PREL MT TU CY EUN NATO USEU BRUSSELS 
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1. (C) Summary. Malta's Ambassador to the EU was
disappointed by the perceived lack of U.S. support for his
proposal to resolve the issue of Malta's participation in
NATO-EU strategic discussions. Turkish representatives to
the EU have expressed a desire to see a resolution to the
issue. End summary.



2. (C) In discussions with Martin Xuereb, Foreign and
Security Policy Attache at the Maltese Mission to the
European Union, and subsequently with Malta's PermRep to the
EU, we advised (per ref f) the need for the Maltese to talk
directly with the NATO International Staff legal experts
about their plan for resolving the issue of Malta's
participation in NATO/EU strategic discussions and to stay in
touch with USNATO. Xuereb told us that the decision has now
been made in Valletta to pursue a course of action under
which they would argue that documents signed in 1994 at the
time of Malta's entry into PfP remain valid, despite their
withdrawal from active participation in the program in 1996.
Given the complexity of the issue, and accompanying broader
political problems, we cautioned Xuereb not to expect
significant movement before the end of the year.



3. (C) Xuereb noted that he had already made contact with
Ms. Burcu San, Deputy Director for EAPC in the NATO Secretary
General's Private Office. Ms. San was reportedly unfamiliar
with the Maltese plan, but offered to have the Legal Advisor
and a representative from the Political section (we
understand that this will be D/ASYG Robert Simmons) present
at their as-yet-unscheduled meeting.



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


DISAPPOINTMENT WITH MESSAGE


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





4. (C) We were called later in the afternoon by the Maltese
Legal Attache, asking us to attend another meeting with
Malta's EU Ambassador Cachia-Caruana. The Ambassador said he
was "very unhappy" with the U.S. position, characterizing it
as showing a lack of support. He fears that once the
decision on Turkish accession is made, there will be little
interest in resolving Malta's participation issue. He
reiterated his view that a solution to Malta's NATO-EU
participation issue would simplify -- not complicate -- the
Turkey/Cyprus problem in the weeks before the December 17 EU
decision on accession. According to Ambassador
Cachia-Caruana, those who argue that a resolution to the
Maltese problem would harm Turkey's EU prospects, "don't
understand what's going on within the EU."



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


FINDING A "SPONSOR"


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





5. (C) Ambassador Cachia-Caruana said that dealing directly
with the International Staff without a "sponsor" or a show of
political support could result in Malta's proposal getting
bogged down or lost within the I.S. bureaucracy. He argued
that if the political will were present, Malta's proposal
could pass through the internal legal review very quickly.
He said he has approached Javier Solana informally, and has
suggested that he might go directly to NATO Secretary-General
De Hoop Scheffer for support.



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


TURKEY ON BOARD


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





6. (C) Cachia-Caruana also reported that the Turkish EU
Ambassador had visited him on the morning of November 17 to
express Ankara's support for a resolution to the Malta
problem. Turkey, according to the Maltese Ambassador, was
"fully available" for any solution. We spoke subsequently
with counterparts in the Turkish Mission to the EU, who
confirmed that Turkey sees a resolution of the Maltese issue
as a positive step. According to our contacts, Turkey sees
this as a way to solidify Malta's positive vote for
accession, and demonstrate flexibility and a positive will to
other Member States. Similar views are reported from Ankara
(ref B). The Turkish Foreign Minister will visit Malta on
November 26, and we are told by Turkish EU Mission
representatives that the Minister will pledge Turkish support
for a resolution of the problem.



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


THE TIMELINE


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





7. (C) Ambassador Cachia-Caruana will travel to Valletta on
November 25. He made clear to us that, in the absence of
support for Malta's course of action, he will recommend that
the idea be shelved. The Maltese Prime Minister was to have
raised this issue in discussions November 18 in Valletta with
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Meyers.



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


THE STAKES


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





8. (C) COMMENT: Until we can make progress on Malta/Cyprus
participation, the NATO-EU dialogue will remain blocked.
While we recognize that any possible solution to this impasse
will likely have to await the EU's fateful December 17
decision on Turkey, there is nothing to suggest that a "yes"
vote will uncork the bottle for progress on EU-NATO
cooperation. The different EU and NATO decisions remain
incompatible, and will still be in force. Malta is proposing
a procedural bandaid that meets its own political
constraints. Solving Malta's problem alone will do nothing
unless a path for Cypriot participation opens as well.

McKinley