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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ATHENS1293
2006-05-19 11:11:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Athens
Cable title:  

EUR/SE DEPUTY VISIT TO ATHENS: EXCELLENT BILATERAL

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  SR  TU  CY  GR 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0629
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTH #1293/01 1391111
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191111Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5495
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 001293 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL SR TU CY GR
SUBJECT: EUR/SE DEPUTY VISIT TO ATHENS: EXCELLENT BILATERAL
RELATIONS


Classified By: CDA TOM COUNTRYMAN FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 001293

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL SR TU CY GR
SUBJECT: EUR/SE DEPUTY VISIT TO ATHENS: EXCELLENT BILATERAL
RELATIONS


Classified By: CDA TOM COUNTRYMAN FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)

1.(C) SUMMARY: In Athens May 9-12 for his
orientation visit, EUR/SE Deputy Director Baxter
Hunt met with Greek MFA officials, opposition
party members, TIP experts (septel), and Thrace
MP Ilan Ahmet (septel) to discuss U.S.-Greece
bilateral relations, Greece's role in the Balkans,
prospects for a Cyprus resolution, and Turkey-Greek
bilateral relations. Interlocutors highlighted
that U.S.-Greek and Greek-Turkish bilateral
relations are at their best level in years.
Hunt expressed U.S. gratitude for Greece's
support in advancing Turkey's EU accession
aspirations and hoped that Greece would
recognize the significance a Cyprus solution
plays in the success of Turkey's EU accession
process. Hunt pressed GoG to continue to
constructively engage the Greek Cypriots to
work toward a resolution, but heard nothing new
from this level of the MFA. END SUMMARY.

Cyprus: Onus on Turks
--------------


2. (C) Baxter Hunt discussed the resolution
of Cyprus with several MFA interlocutors on
May 11th and May 12th,including Turkey Director
Ambassador Zafeiropoulos and Cyprus Deputy
Director Andreas Papadakis. Both agreed Cyprus
is a significant source of tension that must be
resolved, and Turkey's EU accession aspirations
provide an exceptional opportunity for progress.
Papadakis argued for harnessing the post-
Paris "momentum" to shift discussion from
technical issues to more sensitive political topics.


3. (C) Annan Plan: According to Papadakis, Greece
recognizes the Annan Plan cannot be fully discarded.
However, gaining Greek Cypriot support is key to
brokering a resolution and will require a new
plan with a new name that at least promotes the
perception of new gains for Greek-Cypriots.
Papadakis highlighted the problem of properties
and the Turks' role in guaranteeing Greek Cypriot
security as examples of areas ripe for revision.
Greek Cypriots must be convinced the Turks will

abide by their obligations.


4. (C) Obstacles: Papadakis highlighted the
ports issue as an area where Turkey has refused
to honor its obligations. Ambassador
Zafeiropoulos stressed success rests on Turkey
understanding that international esteem gained
by resolving the Cyprus problem far
outweighs the benefits of maintaining the status
quo. He explained that the GoG views Turkey's
demand for a concession-based quid-pro-quo
arrangement with Greece over Cyprus issues as
unacceptable. Both interlocutors agreed
symbolic gestures from the Turks could end the
current impasse. For example, if Turkey were
to remove a token 1000 troops from the island,
it would create enormous goodwill while having
limited practical impact. Zafeiropoulos
lamented that the GoT refuses to advance
outstanding issues without GoG agreement to
reciprocate, what he sees as a manifestation of
Turkey's counterproductive mentality.

Greek-Turkish Relations: Keep Reform Momentum,
Encourage Dialogue
-------------- --------------


5. (C) Zafeiropoulos characterized the Greek-Turkish
bilateral relationship as both good and improving.
He was pleased to report his Directorate has
finally moved beyond crisis management to proactive
engagement with Turkey. (Nothing was mentioned
concerning recent events that signal Greek-
Turkish rapprochement is going through a rough
patch.) He added GoG supports Turkey's EU
accession with the same vigor "as the UK camp,"
yet stressed GoG is adamant Turkey must first
meet all its EU accession requirements.
Zafeiropoulos emphasized, however, that Greece is
not only concerned about accession requirements
that directly impact Greek-Turkish relations,
but seeks to ensure Turkey complies with all EU
requirements. On this note, he is
disappointed Turkey appears to be losing its reform
momentum.

ATHENS 00001293 002 OF 003




6. (C) Zafereiropoulos characterized the recent
spate of high-level meetings between Greece and
Turkey as incremental measures to cultivate and
normalize relations, which both sides recognize as
important. Subjects raised during these meetings
range from routine economic issues to more sensitive
bilateral topics, although the intention is to
build momentum by facilitating on-going dialogue
rather than to focus on concrete results.
In terms of the oft-postponed Karamanlis visit to
Turkey, Zafeiropoulos reported this remains
on the table, but is a matter of timing.

Balkans: U.S.-Greece on same page, Christidis
suggests Serbia Donor Conference
-------------- ---


7. (C) MFA Balkans Director Christidis described
the GoG's leadership role in the Balkans as an
important dimension of GoG foreign policy.
GoG seeks to integrate the region into western
institutions and agencies such as NATO and the
EU in order to promote regional stability. Once
a stable environment is secured, focus can shift to
economic development, fighting unemployment,and
combating organized crime. Seeking an acceptable
and permanent resolution to the final
status of Kosovo, while limiting its adverse impact on
Serbia, are key elements to cementing regional
stability.


8. (C) Kosovo/Serbia: Christidis characterized
the recent SEECP Summit in Thessaloniki as a
success. He stressed the GoG shares the USG
position that we must keep all parties actively
engaged. We need to continue to pressure Belgrade,
he went on, to remain constructively engaged,
yet ensure they maintain realistic expectations,
and we need to encourage Kosovo Serbs to
participate in Kosovar institutions. Christidis
said we must also understand the extent to which
Belgrade's difficult political environment is
hostage to populists and extremists. Christidis
downplayed the divergent view between FM
Bakoyiannis and the Secretary regarding deadlines
and understood the USG position that maintaining
a clear timeframe will pressure the Serbs to
make decisions on Kosovo. Christidis concluded
that Greece and the U.S. are essentially on
the same page, with a discrepancy of a few
months or so on resolution. Christidis added
that, ultimately, Belgrade may opt to choose
the path of least resistance and have a solution
imposed. He suggested we combat this potential
tactic by emphasizing to Belgrade that making
difficult political decisions can result in
real benefits to its electorate. In this
regard, he proposed a donors conference for
Serbia along the lines of the Kosovo donors
conference.


9. (C) Other: Christidis reported there are
comforting signs indicating the Romania and
Bulgaria EU accession process remains on
track for January 2007. He also predicted
Montenegro will reach its 55 percent
threshold for independence in the May 21
referendum, stating Belgrade may find living
with a friendly satellite state the best
solution. Regarding the Macedonia name issue,
Christidis stressed the GoG position is for
EU accession to happen only under a name
acceptable to both sides. He reiterated GoG
disappointment with the November 2004
U.S. recognition of the constitutional name,
saying it was not simply a matter of
semantics, but deprived Greece of Macedonian
history and tradition. He also highlighted
what he saw as a worrisome trend in the
Macedonian educational system, showing Hunt
Macedonian maps which contained large parts
of present-day Greece. Christidis said that
Macedonia is "sowing the seeds" of revisionist
history that could result in future Macedonian
claims on Greek territory. In this vein,
he noted that a Greek TV crew recently
interviewed Macedonian teachers and students and
found that nearly all thought parts of current
Greek territory, even reaching down to Larissa
in central Greece, were really Macedonian.


ATHENS 00001293 003 OF 003


U.S.-Greek Bilateral Relations: Better Than Ever, What
About VWP?
-------------- --------------


10. (C) Hunt met with MFA North America Deputy
Director Vassiloconstandakis, who emphasized that
our bilateral relations are "perhaps the best in
recent history." He noted the MFA viewed
Secretary's recent visit as extremely successful,

SIPDIS
highlighted our excellent defense cooperation
relationship, and reiterated Greece's interest in
hosting a BMENA Conference when the time is
right. He ticked off other examples of cooperation:
the war on terror, the 2004 Olympic Games, a
memorandum on combating crime, an international
agreement against terror, Greece's contributions in
Afghanistan and Iraq, the GoG's leadership role
promoting stability in the Balkans, and
our shared vision of an EU-integrated Turkey.
Vassiloconstandakis noted that he seeks to strengthen
bilateral economic relations by reviving a bilateral
trade and commerce committee that operated in
1998-2001. He also raised Greece's strong desire to
join the Visa Waiver Program. Hunt responded that
the State Department is working to present a
complete picture on Greece's candidacy, but that
the issue is complicated and involves many actors,
including the Department of Homeland Security
and the U.S. Congress.

PASOK Opposition Optimistic for Future
--------------

11. (C) Hunt met with MP Grigoris Niotis, member
of the main opposition party PASOK's International
Affairs Committee, on May 11th. Topics included
the excellent Greek-U.S. relations that were
developed over two decades of PASOK rule; PASOK's
support for Turkey's EU accession, with emphasis
on the need for Turkey to adhere to internal
domestic reforms; a solution for Cyprus, noting
PASOK was the only Greek party to support the
Annan Plan; and PASOK's desire to see Greece
added to the Visa Waiver Program. Niotis added
that PASOK shares U.S. concern over Iran's nuclear
program, and recognized the importance of the U.S.
military facility at Souda Bay. He was optimistic for
PASOK's future, and predicted the next parliamentary
elections will take place spring 2007. He portrayed
the leading party, the New Democracy (ND), as
vulnerable and lacking solutions for a failing
economy, rising inflation, and rising unemployment.
By contrast, he portrayed PASOK as the party of
positive policies. He cited his party's social
security measures and Papandreou's nomination
of a Pomak Muslim candidate for a nomarch
position in Western Thrace as areas where PASOK
is in the forefront of change.


12. (C) COMMENT: A recurrent theme during this
visit was that U.S.- Greece relations are at
their best in years. That is true. When MFA
officials tried to say the same about Greece-
Turkey relations, their claim had a more hollow
ring. While relations are certainly better
than they were before 1999, there is not much
recently to show for it. The discussion on Cyprus
remains stuck, with the Greek MFA at mid-level
putting the onus on Turkey and not thinking much
about how they can help move the process forward.
When Hunt suggested that if the EU were
to move on direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots,
this might provide PM Erdogan with the political
cover he needs to open Turkish ports, MFA
interlocutors showed little interest.

Countryman