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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06LISBON2269 2006-10-13 07:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lisbon
Cable title:  

PORTUGAL'S EU PRESIDENCY PLANS; A SHIFT FROM THE

Tags:   PREL PGOV ECON XA XF PO 
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RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHLI #2269/01 2860721
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 130721Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5252
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEC/MIDDLE EAST MULTILATERAL COLLECTIVE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LISBON 002269 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON XA XF PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGAL'S EU PRESIDENCY PLANS; A SHIFT FROM THE
EXPECTED

REF: A. STATE 170214


B. LISBON 2261

Classified By: Pol Chief Troy Fitrell, Reasons 1.4 (B,D)



1. (C) Summary: Portuguese interlocutors relayed their views
regarding their government's preparations for the EU
presidency. They noted that Germany's policy prescriptions
would dominate the agenda through the new coordinated
presidencies process, but that Portugal had some
opportunities to affect the end result. Portugal would not
likely have much success in promoting an African agenda and
would stick to immigration issues, outreach to Arab states,
and the promotion of the Lisbon Agenda for economic
development. Portugal intends to continue engagement with
Syria, and Foreign Minister Amado intends to raise this issue
with Secretary Rice later this month. End summary.

Policy Plans and Constraints


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




2. (U) Dr. Jaime Leitao, head of the newly-established Office
of the European Union Presidency at the Portuguese MFA,
offered an initial view on how the Government of Portugal
(GOP) plans to manage its EU Presidency during the second
half of 2007. His views were supplemented by another meeting
between EUR's DAS for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy and the
Portuguese Prime Minister's Diplomatic Advisor Luisa Pais,
the Foreign Minister's Diplomatic Advisor Paulo Lourenco, and
the MFA's Director of the North American Department Nuno de
Mello Bello.



3. (C) Leitao noted that the GOP feels somewhat constrained
by the new system of coordinated presidencies over an
18-month period. As Germany leads the process, followed by
Portugal and then Slovenia, Leitao believes that the German
agenda will dominate the entire period. Leitao admitted,
however, that the GOP had not yet decided how it hoped to
define its presidency, so German domination might ease the
decision-making burden. Lourenco noted that Portugal has a
useful heritage of international diplomatic contact, but has
no vested interests in the Middle East, and would therefore
play an ideal role in the further development of the Middle
East Peace Process.

From Africa to the Middle East


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




4. (C) Initial reports that Portugal will have an "African
Presidency" are exaggerated, Leitao suggested, not least
because Germany and Slovenia care little for the continent.
Leitao opined that an EU-Africa Summit would be impossible
during the presidency due to the attendance (or
non-attendance) of Zimbabwe's President Mugabe.



5. (C) As the African issue seemed intractable, Leitao
suggested that Portugal would focus on immigration as a
security issue, particularly regarding North Africa.
Although EU nations -- notably Germany and Spain -- have
clashed on this issue recently, Leitao said they would focus
on the conditions under which immigrants live and their legal
status, rather than on potential common-border protection
issues. Such a policy standpoint would allow Portugal to
reach out to Maghreb states, which would be the identity of
the Portuguese presidency. Refs A and B discuss how these
plans play into Portugal's participation at the General
Affairs and External Relations Council.



6. (C) On this theme, Lourenco noted that Portugal wants to
engage in extensive public outreach to Middle Eastern states
in addition to diplomatic exchanges. Portugal's contact with
Syria is part of this policy, Lourenco said, and given that
any solution to the problems of the region will require
Syria's input and action, it is appropriate for Portugal to
engage even while other nations have valid reasons not to do
so. Lourenco noted that this is an important issue for
Foreign Minister Amado and one that Amado intended to raise
with Secretary Rice in their meeting later this month.
Lourenco also noted that they notice signals from Damascus
that the Syrians are increasingly worried about both Iran's
influence in the region and internal pressures in Syria
itself.

EU and the Economy


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




6. (C) Not surprisingly, Leitao said the GOP hoped to
reinforce the Lisbon Agenda, which dates from Portugal's last
EU Presidency. The economic development plan, focused on
innovation and transition to a "knowledge-economy," has a
particular resonance in Portugal due to local competitiveness
issues that have led to several major factory closures.
Leitao said this effort was one of the few that could

LISBON 00002269 002 OF 002


energize the populace regarding the presidency. Few voters,
he suggested, had any notion of traditional EU issues such as
the constitutional treaty.

How to Manage a Presidency


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




7. (C) On technical aspects of assuming the presidency,
Leitao noted that his office would coordinate GOP activities.
While at the current stage, these efforts are primarily
logistical; during the presidency itself the office will
coordinate policy responses as well. The office currently
has 15 staff and expects to have 25 during the presidency.
Current staff include seconded representatives from the
Ministry of Finance, police, municipal parking
administration, and the exposition center, in addition to MFA
staff and a journalist who will coordinate press inquiries.
Leitao was extremely pleased to hear that a U.S. Embassy
officer may be designated to serve in his office as part of a
diplomatic exchange program. He vowed to contact the
Political Director's office to ensure that the U.S. diplomat
is indeed assigned to Leitao's office.



8. (C) Leitao said the recently-announced austerity budget
resulted in a thirty percent cut in his budget for the
presidency. He noted wryly that there was no consequent
reduction in taskings for his office. One of the office's
main tasks will be to operate an EU Presidency website.
While Leitao has not been officially designated as the
Spokesman, he fears that this may happen. Nonetheless, he
agreed that there was a need to keep the presidency speaking
with only one voice, including the need to ensure that
interviews with senior GOP leadership (the President, Prime
Minister, and Foreign Minister) are pooled with the press at
large to keep individual press outlets from mischaracterizing
GOP positions.

Comment


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




9. (C) Certainly one of the reasons that reports of the
Portuguese presidency have varied so widely is that the GOP
has not yet defined itself what it wants to achieve. The
comments by Leitao and Lourenco reflect a continuing internal
dialogue rather than established policy points, and they
should be viewed in this context. We agree that it is rather
worrying that such a dialogue is still underway, given that
the coordinated presidencies begin in just a few months when
Finland passes off to Germany.
Hoffman