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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ATHENS1058
2006-04-19 14:42:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Athens
Cable title:  

SCENESETTER: YOUR APRIL 27 VISIT TO ATHENS

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  GR  CY  TU  VISIT 
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VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTH #1058/01 1091442
ZNY CCCCC ZZH (CCY ADBD7158 MSI6070-695)
O 191442Z APR 06 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5211
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 001058 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR THE SECRETARY FROM AMBASSADOR CHARLES RIES

C O R R E C T E D COPY TEXT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/18/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV GR CY TU VISIT
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER: YOUR APRIL 27 VISIT TO ATHENS

Classified By: Ambassador Charles P. Ries. Reasons 1.4(b/d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 001058

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR THE SECRETARY FROM AMBASSADOR CHARLES RIES

C O R R E C T E D COPY TEXT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/18/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV GR CY TU VISIT
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER: YOUR APRIL 27 VISIT TO ATHENS

Classified By: Ambassador Charles P. Ries. Reasons 1.4(b/d).


1. (C) SUMMARY: Thank you for agreeing to make a quick stop
in Athens on April 27. The Greek Government is delighted you
are able to visit so soon after FM Bakoyannis' March 23 trip
to Washington, and sees your visit as more proof of the
deepening U.S.-Greece strategic partnership, or as Bakoyannis
called it in Washington, "the historic relationship between
the world's strongest democracy and the world's oldest
democracy."


2. (C) Your stop here will emphasize to a skeptical Greek
public the importance we attach to Greek participation in the
Global War on Terror, in the broader Middle East, and in the
region. It also gives us a chance to emphasize the interest
we have in Greece's potential contribution to European gas
security -- a "front burner" issue given Greece's role in two
regional pipeline projects.


3. (C) To make these points, and to review the latest
thinking on regional issues -- Cyprus and Kosovo, in
particular -- we have arranged meetings with both Prime
Minister Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Bakoyannis. We
expect you will also take part in a press event and hope you
will agree to a "Meet and Greet" event with the Embassy
community. While this is your first visit to Greece as
Secrtary of State (indeed, this is the first solo SecState
visit to Greece since 1993), we want to present this visit to
the Greeks not as a unique event but as part of a continuum
of U.S.-Greek consultations. END SUMMARY.


4. (C) Your visit is well-timed to enlist Greece's
contributions to transformational diplomacy -- with the
emphasis on securing Greek help for a number of key
objectives in the Eastern Med. Bakoyannis can be an
excellent partner in this regard -- she has made one of her
own priorities to transform Greek attitudes about the United
States. Both transformations are necessary to shore up this
important corner of Europe, where the ethnic rivalries in

ex-Yugoslavia, Cyprus and the Middle East have often
collided. In an April 18 meeting with me, Bakoyannis
outlined the following as likely topics for discussion with
you:

THE BALKANS: As the 2005-2006 Chair of the Southeast European
Cooperation Process (SEECP), Greece hosted SEECP
consultations with the Contact Group April 5 to discuss the
Kosovo status negotiations, and the supporting role to be
played by the states in the region. On April 18 USG Special
Envoy Frank Wisner was in Athens for similar consultations.
Both visits are the fruit of hard work by the Greeks to
become a constructive player in the region, and, indeed,
Greece -- as the largest investor in the Balkans -- has a
long-term interest in supporting the democratization and
economic growth of its neighbors. That said, Frank Wisner
had a tough meeting with FM Bakoyannis, who continued to
argue for a slower approach to a Kosovo solution, saying that
much more needs to be done by the international community to
keep Belgrade on board. She believes that Serbia's nascent
democracy will not be able to withstand both Montenegro's and
Kosovo's independence in the same year. Both she and Wisner,
however, did agree to fully and publicly support the next
phase of UN Envoy Ahtisaari's work.

-- You should welcome Greece's interest in supporting a
post-settlement Kosovo, particularly in terms of the tangible
assistance Greece could provide to Kosovo's Serbs. The
Greeks need to be reminded, however, that a drawn-out
negotiating process is not in the interests of stability in
the region. NOTE: Either/both the PM and FM will raise the
Macedonia name issue, although we suspect it will be mainly
for the record. We continue to support the UN-led process
under Matt Nimetz. The Greeks appear to believe the
Macedonians may be ready to deal following their elections
this year. END NOTE.

GREECE-TURKEY-CYPRUS: Both the PM and FM will tell you they
continue to support Turkey's EU accession "in spite of"
Ankara's intransigence on Aegean issues and its refusal to
reopen the Halki Seminary. Turkey's recent decision to meet
a Hamas delegation, in the face of EU consensus to keep Hamas
isolated, was seen here as an worrying indication of how
Turkish interests can diverge from those of the EU. On
Cyprus, Bakoyannis will want to present more evidence, as a
result of her April 6 trip to Nicosia, that Papadopoulos is
committed to reunifying the island. She understands that
unless a way can be found for Turkey to open its ports and
airports to Cyprus this year, the EU-Turkey accession process
will be endangered. The Greek foreign ministry told us that
one other element of her April 6 consultations in Nicosia was
to meet with top Greek Cypriot clergy to stress how the two
sides can live together.

-- Our goal is to enlist Greek help to avoid a trainwreck
between the two sputtering engines of Turkey's EU accession
and a Cyprus settlement. Turkey's recent package of
political reforms (announced April 12) includes a law on
minority foundations that would allow non-Muslim communities
to reclaim property expropriated by the Turkish state.
Bakoyannis told me that this legislation might provide Greece
with a mechanism to solve Greek-Turkish disputes over the
status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul in a way
that would facilitate Turkey's EU accession, and she will be
interested in what you heard on this topic in Ankara. It
would be useful to hear more of her thinking on the way
forward on Cyprus, as well as her ideas for interfaith
dialogue on the island.

DIALOGUE OF CIVILIZATIONS: In her meetings in Washington,
Bakoyannis discussed her desire to promote a dialogue of
civilizations, and has her eye on opportunities to use Athens
as a bridge between the western and Muslim worlds. Since her
return, Bakoyannis has pushed for the opening of a mosque in
downtown Athens.

-- Athens is the only EU capital without a mosque, although
10 percent of Greece's population is now Muslim (mostly
Albanian, but Athens is home to as many as 100,000 economic
migrants from the broader Middle East). Bakoyannis' remarks
may have prompted an announcement by the Orthodox Church that
it will turn over property for the construction of the first
Muslim cemetery in Athens. PM Karamanlis' offer to host a
BMENA ministerial event is still on the table, and you could
explore with both the PM and FM how Athens might support
greater outreach to the Middle East.

AFGHANISTAN: Greece has an engineering unit and a medical
facility in Kabul, and will lead the ISAF HQ battalion in

2008. The British general in charge of ISAF operations told
us that the Greeks were doing a good job, notwithstanding
some language difficulties. He had wanted, however, to put a
Greek engineering officer in charge of NATO infrastructure in
the country, but was frustrated by Greece's national caveat
preventing its troops from operating outside Kabul.

-- Greece can, and should, do more in Afghanistan. We are
interested in sharing more ideas about how Greece could take
on responsibility for a PRT in the north. You might mention
the need to lift national caveats, especially as Greek troops
are sought after for important NATO responsibilities.

IRAN: Greece has been a staunch supporter of our goal to get
Iran to stop its enrichment program. Faced with
Ahmadinejad's April 11 announcement that Iran had "joined the
nuclear club," Greece, as a non-permanent member of the UNSC
and a member of the Board of Governors of the IAEA, gives
every indication of being in sync with the EU3. Greece
supports work in New York on a Chapter VII resolution, and is
supportive in discussions of sanctions at the EU level.

-- We have appreciated the willingness of senior Greek
policymakers to work with us at every step of the way since
last September's IAEA meeting to the ongoing work in the
UNSC. You can keep Greece firmly in our camp by sharing with
Bakoyannis our thinking on next steps.

ENERGY SECURITY: Greece has just completed a link-up with the
Turkish natural gas grid, and is committed to a transit
pipeline to Italy. When completed, such a pipeline would
represent the first non-Russian controlled route for Caspian
natural gas to Western Europe. As a result, in March, Greece
found itself in the cross hairs of an intense Gazprom-led
effort to lock-up the pipeline with a long-term contract
exclusively for Russian natural gas. To get its way, Russia
has not hesitated to play its many cards with Greece -- it is
the source of 80 percent of the country's natural gas
supplies through 2016, and can play a key role in the
financing of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli Bosphorus-bypass oil
pipeline from Bulgaria to Greece, which the Greeks very much
want to see constructed. The Russians have pushed their
energy agenda at a very high level, with recent visits to
Athens by Gazprom Chair Alexei Miller followed quickly by
that of Russian FonMin Lavrov. Although Greece relies on
Russian goodwill in the short-medium term, it has nonetheless
shown itself receptive to putting Caspian gas into the
Turkey-Greece-Italy Interconnector. EUR DAS Bryza had a very
successful visit to Athens March 30-31 to provide top
government and private sector energy players with information
and support to push back against Russian/Gasprom pressure.

-- As you did in Washington, you should underscore our
support for Greece's efforts to play a constructive role
within Europe on energy, and to urge the Greeks to find a way
to allow Azeri gas through to Europe.

--------------
EMBASSY ANNEX
--------------


5. (SBU) Construction of the new Embassy Annex is well
underway and is on-time and on-budget. It will be completed
by spring of 2007. The project will cost approximately USD
40 million, of which roughly USD 10 million will be awarded
to Greek companies through construction-related contracts and
services employing 200 local construction workers during the
two years. Once completed, this facility will give us
state-of-the-art capability for our consular, commercial and
public affairs sections, which serve more than 200 visitors
daily.

-- A note on consular affairs: Bakoyannis will raise again
Greece's quiet campaign to be included in the Visa Waiver
Program, an issue she discussed in many of her meetings in
Washington, and one which is dear to her heart. Greece has
recently rolled out a new, high-security, biometric passport,
and will soon start issuing secure diplomatic and official
passports. We understand all the old passports will be out
of circulation by the end of the year. Recent data appears
to show that Greece meets VWP overstay and visa refusal
criteria. Greece is the only Schengen member among VWP
aspirants. I have told Bakoyannis that DHS had not yet begun
to review possible new VWP participants, and that we should
work closely together to achieve progress and manage
expectations.

--------------
PRESS DURING YOUR VISIT
--------------


6. (C) The Greek media is generally viewed as
sensationalist, irresponsible, and anti-American, even by
Greeks. Nearly every day we read stories of imagined or
exaggerated U.S. attempts to control Greece's domestic
politcal scene, pressure Greece into supporting U.S.
interests in the region, secure oil supplies for Americans,
or subvert the rights of Americans and/or non-Americans in
some part of the globe. By far the best means to set the
record straight on U.S. interests and activities are
interviews with high-ranking USG officials.


7. (C) For your visit, we are recommending an interview with
ERT (Greek state television), which makes a decent effort to
present balanced news. In a one-on-one interview with ERT's
well-regarded diplomatic correspondent, we anticipate
serious, sober questions about the strategic partnership with
Greece, Greek-Turkish-Cyprus relations, the Macedonian name
issue, Kosovo, Iran, Iraq, and the Visa Waiver Program.
(These are also the issues that will come up during your
joint press availability with the FM at the Foreign
Ministry.) We expect portions of the interview to run during
the national evening news on ERT, with other stations using
portions in their broadcasts. The interview in its entirety
would be run the following day on ERT.


8. (C) NOTE: The phone-tapping scandal that began February
2, when the government confirmed that cell phones belonging
to high-ranking officials had been tapped by unknown agents,
is very much alive. There is widespread speculation that the
U.S. is the perpetrator. Karamanlis and Bakoyannis are
determined not to let this belief impede our bilateral
cooperation, and neither are likely to raise this issue with
you. We have not commented on the allegations or the ongoing
investigation. END NOTE.

--------------
SECURITY DURING YOUR VISIT
--------------


9. (C) There is a strong possibility that there will be one
or more demonstrations by both leftist groups and anarchists
during your visit. We have every expectation that the
Hellenic Police will exercise tight control over their
movements. There are no other indications of any threat to
you or your delegation by any known terrorist groups. We
will monitor both situations closely.
Ries