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05BRATISLAVA831 2005-10-08 20:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bratislava
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1. (C) SUMMARY: During an October 8 meeting with V-10
PolDirs, visiting EUR PDAS Kurt Volker heard frank and honest
opinions -- and some colorful discussion -- about the current
status of the transatlantic partnership. The PolDirs, who
noted that such a meeting could never have been pulled
together under their own auspices:
-- welcomed meeting in this format;
-- encouraged more communication and collaboration between
the EU and the U.S.;
-- expressed their disappointment with the current EU Troika
-- noted a lack of a forum for strategic dialogue and
expressed their hope that NATO could fulfill that role;
-- expressed concern about the role of Russia in regional
-- and urged more coordination in the very near term on
They were very supportive of the second Bush administration's
renewed emphasis on strategic engagement with Europe. They
also stressed the importance of democracy succeeding in
Ukraine because of its wider effect on its neighbors to the




2. (C) During a frank and colorful October 8 meeting
between visiting EUR PDAS Kurt Volker and V-10 PolDirs,
Volker outlined the sense of optimism within the USG for
working together with Europe to address common challenges in
the "post-accession" years. The PolDirs gave a warm welcome
to the second Bush administration's trans-Atlantic
engagement, noting that the role of the U.S. in Europe was
helpful and should be expanded. Polish Deputy Foreign
Minister Piotr Switaliski told the group that the role of
U.S. in Europe was needed even more so today; "just look at
Ukraine." He said the Poles worst nightmare is having to
choose between the U.S. and the EU, so he was grateful for
the renewed U.S. engagement with Europe. Czech PolDir Martin
Povejsil said that the events of September 11, 2001, had been
"the breaking point" and that it changed America more than it
changed Europe. While all had common goals and values that
they wished to share in the wake of the attacks, he noted the
"different approaches" taken by Europe and the United States.
He welcomed the attempt to "bridge the gap" being made by
the USG in Bush's second term, but felt that "differences
remain," and thus more must be done. There is good
cooperation, Povejsil said, on Ukraine, Lebanon, and Iran,
but what is really needed is success that can be presented to
European citizens.



3. (C) Several PolDirs said that the EU Troika was a
"broken" framework, and that we "must find new ways" of
managing the U.S. - EU relationship. They lamented that they
read second hand reports of "U.S. - EU" consultations, and
that the Troika does not reflect accurately the views of the

25. PDAS Volker suggested a US - PSC meeting at 25, instead
of with the Troika; while Poland immediately expressed
concern that it would establish a precedent that could be
"used" by Russia (see para 5), Estonia noted that something
had to be done as "we are all of the common position that
(the Troika) is a disaster."



4. (C) The PolDirs were also unanimous in their opinion
that Europe lacks a forum for strategic dialogue, as the EU
has been more "reactive" than proactive. The Czech PolDir
decried the lack of strategic dialogue later in the
discussion, and Romanian PolDir Ovidiu Dranga was also
insistent on the point that true strategic dialogue -- free
from the "global interests" of some of Europe's countries
with "global ambitions" -- was nonexistent, and that current
frameworks leave "little space for strategic and inclusive
discussion on global issues." Lajcak said "there is no EU
position, just cliches, and then a few members go off in the
back room, and then we repeat new cliches." The PolDirs
agreed that such dialogue doesn't happen in the EU, and that
while it could happen in NATO, there are NATO members states
that do not allow the venue to be used as such. PDAS Volker
said that this is why Secretary Rice hosted her
"trans-Atlantic lunch" in New York, and why U/S Burns would
be meeting with NATO Political Directors in a NAC/R in

Brussels on Tuesday, October 11. The PolDirs welcomed this
plan. Volker reminded them that if they value this kind of
strategic dialogue with in NATO, they needed to say so at the
table in Brussels, as well.




5. (C) Throughout the discussions, the issue of Russia was
raised. Lithuanian PolDir Zygimantas Pavilionis immediately
commented upon the opening of the morning meeting that Europe
should be more united, as "Russia is trying to cause division
between Europe and the United States." There was concern
that German foreign policy in the region -- which Slovak
PolDir Miro Lajcak summarized as "we'll support you if you
don't upset Russia" -- would not change even after the change
of government in Berlin. "German needs to re-think Russia,"
he said. The PolDirs were concerned with what they perceived
as the evaporation of democracy in Russia and Russia's
preference for surrounding its borders with broken states and
dictatorships, and worried that -- if the course were not
reversed -- a "second Cold War" could be in the making. The
group was pleased with PDAS Volker's reiteration of the USG
position, namely that there would be "no false choices"
between confrontation and cover-up, but rather frankness on
Russia's "democracy problems" (a major concern of the
PolDirs) and openness to practical cooperation on real
challenges. After a heated exchange, Hungarian PolDir Ivan
Udvardi and Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister agreed that
"Russia's values are not Europe's values."



6. (C) There was agreement that success in Ukraine was
imperative to success in the region, and the Polish Deputy
Foreign Minister again called for more cooperation,
collaboration, and involvement with the United States. The
Polish rep claimed "if Ukraine builds a democracy, Russia
will follow." The Hungarian PolDir noted the EU-Ukrainian
Summit in December and said Yushenko "needs something to take
home." In Belarus, there was universal agreement that the EU
is "non-strategic" on Belarus, and that Belarus is an
"irritant" within EU-Russia relations. This timid EU
approach was one reason that some V-10 PolDirs suggested that
the U.S. needed to engage the EU more in Belarus, to try to
"bring the EU along" at a political level, not just a
technical level. Slovenia considered it a significant
problem, and noted that the United Kingdom was reluctant to
take action for fear of overstepping its bounds while EU
President. Poland called for the U.S. to make Belarus a
priority in the very near term (before the November 7 meeting
in Brussels). The Czech PolDir noted that Russia was "not in
love with Lukashenko" and would "replace him" if they felt
the time had come, thus stalling future democratic change.



7. (C) PDAS Volker briefed the V-10 PolDirs on the evolved
U.S. approach to ISAF expansion and eventual "synergy" with
OEF in Afghanistan, including a "dual-hatted chain of
command." The group was interested and generally supportive
of such a dual-hatting arrangement.

8. (C) On Iraq, Bulgarian PolDir Ivan Najdenov said that
his country would be reducing their presence in Iraq in
January, but all the other PolDirs expressed their intent to
stay until asked to leave. There was consensus that NATO
should generate its own force protection structures, and the
Romanians said they have been exploring committing troops to
force protection for the NTM-I Mission (to join the
Hungarians), but there was no decision nor time frame on a
decision yet.

9. (C) After congratulating the Czech Republic for its
principled stance on Cuba (and encouraging others to follow
suit), Volker was told of the PolDirs general disappointment
with EU policy in Latin America, where they felt democratic
values took a second seat to business interests. They agreed
that more needed to be done with the EU on Cuba and
Venezuela, noting that the futures of both countries were at

10. (C) There were no new commitments on the broader Middle
East, though the Political Directors were receptive to
Volker's update of U.S. efforts in the region, and request
for their support -- nationally and within the EU -- for the
Foundation and Fund for the Future. There was noted interest

in Palestinian politics, with several PolDirs concerned with
and surprisingly realistic about the role of Hamas in the
political process. They suggested that the EU should be
tougher on Hamas because of its close ties to terrorism.




11. (SBU) There was tremendous enthusiasm for reviving the
V-10 PolDirs meeting format, though the group noted that a
similar meeting could never have been organized without U.S.
impetus. (Because of Slovene sensitivities, however, they
agreed to henceforth call the group "Central European
Democracies" rather than the V-10.) The group agreed to meet
again in early 2006 (February or March) in Vilnius, and there
was some discussion of the merits of inviting the Ukraine,
Georgia, and Moldova to the next meeting to try to engage
them as "partners, not students."

12. (U) EUR PDAS Kurt Volker has cleared this cable.