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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05VIENNA3142 2005-09-21 15:06:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vienna
Cable title:  

ALPBACH POLITICAL FORUM: EU UNABLE TO PROJECT

Tags:   PREL ECIN ELAB TU SR AU EUN RU CZ 
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1. SUMMARY: The EU, a self-conscious "soft power," is

unable or unwilling to use the potential for political

clout that stems from its economic might. At the same

time, EU membership holds considerable attraction for

countries in the Western Balkans and beyond, and is an

important incentive for reform of those economies and

political systems. These were among the principal themes

that emerged from the 2005 Alpbach Forum Political

Seminar, which took place August 28-31 in the idyllic

Tyrolean town of Alpbach. Panelists from several Balkan

states, EU RelEx Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, Russian

and U.S. speakers focused on the EU's strengths and

weaknesses, the EU's relationship with Russia, the

Balkans, the Middle East, and the EU's security policy

potential. Officials from Kosovo and Montenegro made the

case for the independence of their regions. Serb ForMin

Vuk Draskovic gave a compelling speech to promote his

vision of "more than autonomy, less than independence"

for Kosovo. A Czech Member of the European Parliament

argued that the challenges facing the West were so urgent

that no time must be lost in petty trans-Atlantic

bickering. Anti-American rhetoric was conspicuous by its

absence from the discussion. (Note: Reftel reports the

Alpbach Economic Forum. End note.) End summary.

EU paralysis and future EU borders



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





2. The negative mood in the EU following the "no" votes

in constitutional referenda in France and the Netherlands

was the theme of several keynote addresses. EU External

Relations Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner conceded there was

an air of uncertainty about future institutional

arrangements. However, she hastened to underline that

Brussels was continuing its normal routine, pointing to

her recent meetings with Iraqi and Afghani leaders.

Ferrero-Waldner further spoke of the need to ponder the

ultimate borders of the EU, but confirmed that accession

negotiations with Turkey would begin as scheduled on

October 3. She urged new funding resources for the EU

and advocated an EU seat in the UN Security Council at

some point in the future.

EU and U.S. roles in the Balkans



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





3. Alpbach Forum organizer Erhard Busek was able to

leverage his long engagement in the Balkans as EU

Stability Pact Coordinator to draw a number of high-

ranking officials from the region to the event. In a

spellbinding speech, Serbia and Montenegro ForMin Vuc

Draskovic argued for Serbia's reintegration into the

Western community of nations. He dealt well with probing

questions from an overwhelmingly hostile, late-night

student audience who accused him of belittling Serb war

crimes. Draskovic laid out his vision for Kosovo ("more

than autonomy, less than independence") and argued for a

model similar to that offered to (but rejected by)

Bosnian Serbs in the 1990s.



4. Draskovic's predecessor as foreign minister, Goran

Svilanovic, spoke of negative EU perceptions of Serbia,

and of the Balkans generally. He urged continued active

U.S. engagement as a prerequisite for progress in the

region. Kosovo politician and publicist Veton Surroi

noted that the report by UN Kosovo Special Envoy Kai Eide

would reflect growing frustration among Kosovars about

delays in resolving the final status question. Surroi

would prefer to see the U.S. "impose unilateral status

conditions," rather than accept a solution proposed by

the EU-25. Montenegro's Minister for European

Integration, Gordana Djurovic, argued in favor of

independence for her country, saying the referendum in

spring 2006 will drive a peaceful and ultimately

successful movement that will be a model for the peaceful

dissolution of unions like Serbia and Montenegro.

EU-Russia



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





5. Experts at a EU-Russia panel provided a sober

analysis of the state of EU-Russia relations. They noted

considerable frustration at all levels of the EU about

the authoritarian course of the Putin regime in its

second term. The strains between Moscow and Brussels

were reflected in the EU's "Neighborhood Policy," in

which the EU was seeking to create a "wider Europe"

including, inter alia, Ukraine and Georgia. This

conflicted, however with Russia's conception of its "near

abroad." Former Deputy ForMin of Russia Anatoly

Adamishin thought EU expectations for Russia were too

high, not allowing Russia enough time to undergo its

transformation process. He also criticized the EU for

using a "double standard" in its dealings with Russia, as

opposed to China.

EU and the U.S.



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





6. Anti-U.S. or anti-Administration rhetoric was notably

absent from the discussions. Former U.S. ambassador to

the OSCE Stephen Minikes stated that while the U.S. and

the EU were "not in the same house," both faced "the same

fundamental challenges." Minikes argued that criticism

of the U.S. in Europe was frequently a result of a lack

of understanding of American values. Despite the recent

U.S.-EU friction over Iraq, he recalled that both sides

had accomplished a lot together in the past -- and noted

they had no alternative but to stay engaged with one

another.



7. In a debate entitled "Is there a global partnership?"

Michael Haltzel, former Democratic staff director for

European affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations

Committee, argued that despite European perceptions of

American unilateralism, Washington remained engaged in a

wide web of international partnerships, ranging from the

WTO to ad-hoc partnerships with the EU for humanitarian

interventions to prevent genocide. Most important now

was cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism,

Haltzel argued. Czech EU parliamentarian Jana Hybaskova

seconded Haltzel's comments, stating that the EU and the

U.S. faced such enormous common challenges that there was

absolutely no time for petty transatlantic bickering.

BROWN