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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS376 2005-04-11 10:54:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
Cable title:  

U.S.-BALTIC SUMMIT: CALMING TROUBLED WATERS

Tags:   PREL OVIP EN RS LG LH 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 000376 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR; PLEASE PASS NSC FOR AMBASSADOR FRIED AND
DAMON WILSON; FROM AMBASSADORS BAILEY, MULL AND WOS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2010
TAGS: PREL OVIP EN RS LG LH
SUBJECT: U.S.-BALTIC SUMMIT: CALMING TROUBLED WATERS


Classified By: Ambassador Steve Mull; Reason 1.4(d)

This is a joint message from Embassies Riga, Tallinn and
Vilnius.

Summary
-------



1. (C) President Bush's meeting with the three Baltic
presidents in Riga May 7 presents an extraordinary
opportunity to tighten our alliance with America's best
friends in Europe and patch their fraying unity in advancing
U.S. interests. At the summit, we should aim to:

--Acknowledge the three's staunch support in fighting the war
on terrorism and supporting the growth of democracy from
Belarus through Iraq to Afghanistan (and offer, if available,
additional military assistance in carrying out that fight);

--Defuse tensions over their differences on the May 9 events
in Moscow by expressing understanding for each;

--Urge a constructive, forward-looking approach to relations
with Russia;

--Promote the three's cooperation in exporting democracy to
the former Soviet Union and beyond, charting their energy
strategies, increasing economic cooperation, and battling
transnational threats in crime and health; and

--Reiterate our support for the visa waiver roadmap process
for all three.

End Summary.

America's Best Friends


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





2. (C) President Bush's decision to hold a summit meeting
with his Baltic counterparts during his visit to Riga May 7
could not come at a better time. Recent tensions over
whether to attend WWII commemorative ceremonies in Moscow
have exacerbated destructive strains in each country's
relationship with Moscow, while fraying unity among the
three. Important parliamentary votes on future commitments
to U.S. operations in Afghanistan and/or Iraq loom in each.
And each has signaled a willingness to work closely with us
as they become more outspoken in the European Union councils
on issues of common interest.



3. (C) The Balts' occasional fractiousness and heightened
sensitivity to Russia may have grabbed recent headlines, but
neither feature detracts from their warm and strong alliance
with the United States. Their leaders have steadfastly vowed
to remain as long as necessary in Iraq. They have been
strong supporters of continuing the EU's arms embargo on
China, energizing greater support to democrats in the former
Soviet Union, ending Sudan's civil war, and promoting human
rights in Cuba. Each enthusiastically welcomes increased
U.S. investment, which has found a small but profitable home
in the region.



4. (C) Our principal challenge at the summit is to calm
recent tensions that have emerged in the three's relations
with Russia and with each other; tensions that, if left
unchecked, could begin to imperil their strong support for
U.S. global interests, invite internal political instability,
and distract from our important agenda with Russia.
President Bush can achieve this task because of the unique
esteem and affection he enjoys among all three ) no one on
the world stage today carries greater weight and influence on
these three leaders. We recommend the President concentrate
on five key themes at the summit:

Gratitude for Support


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





5. (C) The Balts have been unshakable U.S. allies in
advancing our most important global interests. Together, they
have 251 troops on the ground in Iraq, and their parliaments
are now at various stages of considering extension of their
missions. Lithuania recently volunteered to lead NATO's
arguably most challenging Afghan Provincial Reconstruction
Team in Ghowr Province, for which Latvia has indicated
tentative support, while the Estonians will support a British
unit. The three have been stalwart allies in international
organization, intelligence and law enforcement cooperation in
the war against terrorism. In parallel, they have promoted
the growth of freedom by supporting democrats across the
former Soviet empire, most notably in Belarus, Ukraine and
the South Caucasus. Gratitude from President Bush, both in
his meetings and press appearances -- particularly if he is
able to offer supplemental military assistance in bearing the
costs of the operations -- would go far in cementing this
continued valuable support of the U.S. global agenda.

Soothing May 9 Tensions


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





6. (C) The Balts' different responses to Russia's
invitations to WWII commemorative ceremonies in Moscow have
brought destructive strains to the fore in relations with
Moscow and with each other. Adamkus has bitterly complained
in private that by going to Moscow, Vike-Freiberga has
shattered Baltic unity and is attempting to cast Latvia as
the Baltic leader. Vike-Freiberga's criticism of Russia in
explaining her decision to attend provoked sharp Russian
resentment. Russia's Ambassador to Lithuania unleashed a
domestic firestorm by attacking Lithuanians as "dirty
scandal-mongers" and circulating disinformation that
Lithuania is blocking Kaliningrad orphans from joining their
adoptive Russian families. Meanwhile, Lithuania launched a
crude campaign to move the venue of the proposed summit from
Riga to Tallinn, to avoid creating an impression that the
U.S. endorsed Latvia's approach to Russia.



7. (C) The anniversary of the Soviet Union's illegal
annexation of the Baltic States is rightfully a painful one
for all three. But each needs to approach it on the basis of
its own interests, and respect the decision of the others.
We recommend that President Bush defuse the demands to take a
side on the issue by emphasizing our respect and support for
each of the three decisions as in keeping with each country's
interests; and by urging the three privately to remove it as
a source of division.

A Constructive Relationship with Russia


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





8. (C) The May 9 fracas distracted the Balts from pursuing
their common interest of establishing a constructive
relationship with Russia. Once removing the anniversary as a
source of discord, we recommend President Bush urge the three
Presidents to redouble their efforts in promoting that common
interest. Specifically, the President should:

--reiterate the ironclad guarantees that the NATO alliance
provides for the security of all three in their relations
with Russia;

--encourage the three to continue their progressive efforts
to respect ethnic minority rights;

--urge their measured responses to the occasional political
volatility and provocations emanating from Russia as we
continue to encourage the strengthening of its democracy; and

--praise the Balts' constructive political-military
cooperation with Russia, for example in recent successful
Vienna Document inspections.

Baltic Unity


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





9. (C) The Balts are among Europe's smallest states, but
together, their common values and ambitious foreign policies
can magnify their supportive contributions to America's most
important foreign policy interests. We recommend President
Bush urge the three Baltic leaders to tighten their
cooperation in a range of fields:

--Exporting Democracy: The Balts, as the most successful
former Soviet republics, have special appeal to the rest of
the former Soviet Union, and all three provide various
assistance to them. President Bush should encourage their
intensified cooperation, at least in parallel if not
together, throughout the region, especially in neighboring
Belarus. Further, the President should encourage their
already successful efforts in support of democracy beyond the
region, such as Lithuania's efforts to lead the Provincial
Reconstruction Team in Ghowr Province in Afghanistan.

--Energy: NATO and EU membership accomplished the three's de
jure integration with Europe overnight, but their nearly
complete dependence on Russia for energy supplies will limit
their de facto integration for the foreseeable future. We
should encourage their common efforts to establish alternate
energy supplies without endangering a mutually beneficial
arrangement with their Russian suppliers. For example, a
lingering border dispute between Lithuania and Latvia, which
their Economic Ministers recently recommitted to resolve,
stands in the way of moving ahead on long-standing interests
in further oil exploration in the Baltic.

--Economics/Business: The explosive economic growth all
three have enjoyed in the past five years will require
substantial foreign investment to continue; an opportunity
that could benefit U.S. business. President Bush should
encourage the three to intensify their cooperation among
themselves and with us in attracting further American
investment through pro-growth policies, building on the
success of the two recent U.S.-Baltic investment conferences
in London and Washington. As with democracy, the Balts lead
the way in the former Soviet Union on economic reform. We
should encourage them to share their experiences in
implementing capitalism with other former Soviet republics,
jointly and separately.

--Trans-National Problems: The Balts should continue to
develop their cooperation in combating such transnational
threats as HIV/AIDS, trafficking in persons and corruption.

Visa Waiver Roadmap


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





10. (C) The only irritant in our otherwise rosy bilateral
relationships is our policy to require visas from Baltic
travelers to visit their families in the United States,
particularly in light of strong Baltic support for U.S.
global objectives. Most Baltic officials acknowledge the
practical difficulties of exempting their nationals from our
visa requirements, but are nevertheless eager to show their
constituents they are working the issue. Public opinion here
enthusiastically greeted President Bush's announcement of
support for the visa waiver roadmap process in February. We
recommend he publicly reiterate his support for the process
in the Baltic states as a means of winning substantial
goodwill and continued support for U.S. policies.
Mull