wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
05PARIS3766 2005-06-01 10:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable

1. Summary: MFA DAS-equivalent for the Maghreb Anne Mohsen,
during a recent meeting with us, described French relations
with Algeria as unaffected by controversy over the 1945 Setif
massacre, with progress on track towards conclusion of a
bilateral friendship treaty by year-end. Mohsen suggested
Algeria was more to blame for lack of progress in
Moroccan-Algerian rapprochement, a continued GoF priority,
and described Algiers as less hurried and less economically
pressed than Morocco. Mohsen confirmed continued French
reserve on prospects for progress on the Western Sahara and
noted that the GoF had sought to "calm down" the Spanish
government from pressing too hard for a replacement for
Western Sahara SRSG de Soto, for whom France has no preferred
candidate. Mohsen expressed GoF concern over the
deteriorating human rights situation in Tunisia and its
potential to undermine Tunisian stability, especially with
the WSIS approaching. Though France has not demarched the
GOT or issued public statements on recent human rights cases,
Mohsen confirmed that the GoF was reflecting on its human
rights approach to Tunisia and asked us for recent USG public
statements on the issue. End summary.



2. (C) During a recent meeting with poloff, MFA
DAS-equivalent for the Maghreb Anne Mohsen described French
bilateral relations with Algeria as unharmed by recent
controversy over the commemoration of the 1945 Setif
massacres, and downplayed Algerian government statements
comparing French colonial authorities' behavior during that
period to that of the Nazis. Mohsen said the GoF viewed the
Setif issue as driven by internal dynamics in Algeria, and
had successfully avoided being drawn into a public polemic on
the issue. She added that one of the most inflammatory GOA
statements, attributed in the press to Bouteflika, had been
made in his name by another minister. She noted that
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Renaud Muselier had
been received warmly in Algiers by Algerian FM Bejdaoui and
the new Prime Minister during a May 10-13 visit, amid
Algerian press controversy over Setif. Mohsen summed up that
despite the controversy, the GoF and GoA were on track to
conclude a landmark "friendship treaty" by year-end 2005,
which will mark a historic advance in the long-troubled
relations between Paris and Algiers.

3. (C) Mohsen reaffirmed that the GoF continued to press for
Algerian-Moroccan rapprochement at every opportunity. She
blamed Algeria more than Morocco for lack of progress, and
described the GOA as less hurried than Morocco, economically
comfortable with high oil prices, and voicing increasingly
dogmatic positions on Western Sahara The Moroccans viewed
new Algerian FM Bejdaoui as a longtime proponent of
doctrinaire Algerian views on Western Sahara, and it remained
to be seen whether Algeria was willing to be more pragmatic
on the issue.



4. (C) On Western Sahara developments, Mohsen reported that
the GoF was seeking to calm down the Spanish, who were being
overly eager in seeking a replacement for former SRSG for
Western Sahara Alvaro de Soto. The GoF had counseled the
Spanish that rather than focusing on the personality of the
next SRSG, we needed to focus collectively on creating the
conditions conducive to a political solution and continue to
encourage Algerian-Moroccan rapprochement, through moves such
as reopening the border. The French approach on Western
Sahara, she quipped, was less exciting and much slower than
what Spain was seeking, but in the end, had far greater
potential to bear fruit. Mohsen reported that the GoF had no
preferred candidates to replace de Soto and did not want to
rush the UN Secretariat to make a decision; nor did it want
to leave a long void either. Mohsen added that the UN
Secretariat should consult in advance to ensure its choice is

acceptable to the parties, and to the U.S., France, and
Spain. On a cautionary note, she observed that the next SRSG
could not expect to revive the Baker Plan, which remained a
non-starter for GOM.



5. (C) In response to poloff's raising U.S. concerns on the
human rights situation in Tunisia, Mohsen affirmed that the
GoF remained very concerned about Tunisia's deteriorating
internal political situation and increased economic
vulnerability. She observed that the GoF saw no sign of
Tunisia making any progress as the World Summit for the
Information Society (WSIS) approaches; instead, political
repression was increasing and earlier consideration for
procedural trial norms had been abandoned. All of these
factors, she concluded, had the potential to undermine
Tunisian stability. Mohsen confirmed that the GoF had
prepared press guidance on the Abbou lawyer case and that of
other lawyers arrested by the GOT, but because no reporters
had posed the question, the GoF had not issued any public
statements of concern on the issue. Mohsen confirmed that
that GoF had not demarched the GOT about the Abbou case or
other recent human rights issues. She stressed, however,
that EU members (including the presidency, EC, France,
Germany, UK) had sent representatives to witness the Abbou
trial, which in itself sent a message to the GOT.

6. (C) Mohsen expressed interest in to what degree U.S.
officials had raised human rights concerns with Tunisian
officials and at what level such approaches were made.
Poloff confirmed that the USG had made multiple, high-level
approaches to the GOT on human rights issues in Tunis and
Washington, and that human rights topped the agenda at the
highest level U.S.-GOT encounters, including the Ben Ali
visit to Washington in early 2004. Mohsen reported that,
especially with the WSIS approaching, the GoF was reflecting
on how best to encourage improvements in Tunisia's internal
situation and what approach would be most effective in
generating a constructive response. She noted that the GOT
only seemed to be hardening its approach in response to
appeals, such as that made to Ben Ali by the visiting
European Parliament President, for Tunisia to deblock EU aid
to the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LIDH). Mohsen said
it would be useful for her to have texts of recent U.S.
statements on Tunisia. Poloff provided Mohsen with the
French-language version of the 2004 Country Human Rights
Report on Tunisia, the May 5 Department spokesperson's
statement on recent lawyer arrests in Tunisia, and the
Tunisia excerpt of the "Supporting Human Rights and
Democracy" report.



7. (C) Comment: Although Mohsen will depart her current
position at the end of June, we would like to continue
dialogue with her successor, French Embassy in Beirut DCM
Christian Testot, on human rights in the Maghreb countries,
and seek to encourage the GoF to be more forthright in
raising these issues with the GOT, in line with the private
concerns on Tunisia's human rights situation which we have
long heard from MFA and Elysee officials. We would
appreciate additional points which Washington might provide
to encourage France and/or other EU members to adopt a more
active stance in articulating human rights concerns to the
Tunisian government. There would be similar utility in
encouraging the GoF to take a more active approach in raising
human rights concerns in Algeria, to parallel U.S. messages
to the GOA. End comment.