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06PARIS2252 2006-04-06 10:15:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
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1. (C) Summary: On March 31, A/S Fried met with French MFA
officials to discuss NATO partnerships, Georgia, Ukraine,
Nagorno-Karabakh, Belarus, Russia and Darfur. Fried pressed
French officials to remain open to offering Georgia a NATO
Membership Action Plan, and noted that French and U.S.
analyses regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, Ukraine and Belarus were
very similar, with both sides agreeing on the opportunity to
pursue a solution on Nagorno-Karabakh. The atmosphere was
positive. The French side enthusiastically took the
opportunity to compare analyses, which largely tracked with
those of the USG, with two major exceptions: Russia and NATO.
Regarding Russia, Political Director Stanislas de Laboulaye
cautioned against "returning to Cold War blocs," code for
policies in the former Soviet space that might offend Russia,
particularly on Georgia. In an extended discussion of NATO
partnerships, French officials laid down clear reservations
about a broader, "global" role for NATO in conjunction with
other democracies. They presented a constricted view of
NATO's continuing role in Darfur, and stated that France
would not be able to make a national contribution. Finally,
EU member states, according to the French, favor an EU-wide
approach to energy security. End summary.

2. (U) A/S Fried, Pol M/C and Poloff met first with
A/S-equivalent for Strategic Affairs Philippe Carre, followed
by a separate meeting with A/S-equivalent for Russia, the
former Soviet space and the Balkans Jean-Francois Terral. In
a third, and last, meeting, A/S Fried, the Ambassador, POL
M/C, Deputy Polcouns and Poloff met with Political Director
Stanislas de Laboulaye, Carre, Terral, Minsk Group co-chair
Ambassador Fassier, and EU CFSP Unit Head Vincent Falconi.




3. (C) Much of the discussion centered on partnerships, which
was prompted by the March 31 tabling at NATO of the U.S.-UK
food-for-thought paper on Global Partnership. Carre
emphasized a distinction between members and non-members, and
between "within the family" discussions in the NAC and
arrangements for dialogue and cooperation with partners,
including new high-end partners. He agreed that NATO must
first discuss strategic challenges and appropriate responses
"en famille." Partners come in at the implementation stage,
with those who have something to contribute joining
discussions of appropriate taskings and arrangements.

4. (C) NATO is cohesive, Carre contended, because it is built
on a shared history around Article 5. If non-NATO members
are given the privileges afforded to NATO members, he argued,
the alliance would be "watered down," and if membership were
extended to non-traditional countries, the bond shared among
members would become "looser." Carre repeatedly warned of
using NATO in such a way as to move it from a military
alliance dealing with common threats to a Western alliance
projecting into non-Western cultures. He argued that NATO
must avoid feeding the counter-productive perception held by
some that it is a "military part of the American bloc,"
particularly as China rises to the "number two position" in
global power. Fried countered that the partnership
initiative did not blur the distinction between partners and
members. Chinese misinterpretations could be avoided though
dialogue and outreach, and an offer of partnership to India,
a non-Western democracy, would address some of Carre's "West
versus the Rest" objection. He cited Carre's example of
Chinese misgivings potentially necessitating the
establishment of a channel of communication between China and

5. (C) Fried replied that NATO benefited from the input of
partners like Afghanistan but also from the input of high-end
security providers such as Australia, Japan and South Korea.
NATO, he said, only stood to gain by advancing its
cooperation with partners. Carre agreed that NATO should be
able, in addressing a problem, to reach out to and work with,
any country that is prepared and able to help. He also
affirmed that there needs to be a place to discuss potential
operations. However, he explained, the GoF did not want to
see NATO become "a permanent grouping of like-minded
democracies," and he saw no place in NATO for non-members to
determine future missions or discuss "global common
challenges" in general (Strategic Dialogue). Carre mentioned
the Contributors Committee as a forum that already exists for
partners to coordinate, but admitted that NATO could use
another forum for potential contributors to interface with
NATO when they are considering joining a NATO operation.
Fried said that NATO operations often take place under

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circumstances that require NATO to look beyond the tactical
and even strategic goals of the mission itself. For example,
he said, the ISAF mission in Afghanistan opened wider
questions about the role of Pakistan and other bordering
nations. NATO partners who are engaged in Afghanistan, he
argued, should have a say in answering these relevant
questions. Carre accepted the point, but stressed that such
consultation be operation-specific.

6. (C) Turning to upcoming NATO meetings, Carre called for
differential treatment in terms of expectations for the Sofia
ministerial and the Riga summit. He asked that the U.S. not
trumpet in Sofia elements that it would like to see announced
eventually in Riga. Carre conceded that broad objectives
would undoubtedly be addressed in Sofia and that language
such as "provide security wherever needed" or "the need to
cooperate" would be mentioned, but he stressed that they
should not be broadcast as defining statements lest they
precipitate division.




7. (C) Citing President Chirac's previous discussion with
President Bush, Carre said France supported the AU and the
UN, and that some NATO assistance was acceptable. However,
this should be limited to support, i.e., no troops on the
ground or raising the flag, no role in an operational sense,
or simply to "score points." Fried said that NATO was being
asked to do more because of the needs on the ground.
Effectiveness is the key. Carre responded that France would
be unable to assist, given its other commitments, e.g., in
the DRC. Fried cautioned that it would be important for
France to make some contribution, if only to avoid the
perception of another Iraq. Carre averred that while France
would not make a contribution, it would also not seek to keep
French officials from participating in a NATO operation:
"This is not Iraq." Carre said NATO contributions were not
of much value unless the U.S. was involved. He noted that
when the AU was supported by NATO, the U.S. provided
transport under a NATO label. He said a NATO role was an
"abstraction" because, other than planning, it consisted of
national contributions.




8. (C) Fried said it was important to see Georgia as it was,
with good and bad, and not simply to accept Russia's
simplistically negative view. Terral agreed and said France
rejects Russian "propaganda." Indeed, they are well aware of
Russia's bad behavior in this region. Terral said he noticed
the positive effect of U.S. guidance on Georgian President
Saakashvili, but noted that every time Saakashvili makes a
mistake, Russia takes advantage of it. France is focused on
reversing Russia's roll-back strategy, which seeks to
maintain and strengthen Moscow's grip on its neighbors.
Terral said he didn,t understand why Georgia wasn,t moving
faster on implementation of the military bases agreement.

9. (C) Fried outlined reasons why Georgia could be a good
candidate for a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), notably
the support for NATO membership among the Georgian
population, as opposed to the more divided Ukrainian
population. Terral, Carre and Laboulaye stressed Russian
opposition, with Laboulaye underscoring France's desire not
to return to the Soviet-era 'bloc' mentality. Carre said
France viewed giving a MAP to Georgia as similar to EU
accession negotiations, i.e., an inevitable road to
membership. Fried disagreed: membership was conditional on
performance and MAP was expressed as a statement of hopes,
not inevitability. He added that MAP would make Georgia a
stabilizer in the region and argued that Russian objections
were manageable, just as they had been for the Baltic states
and Central Europe.

10. (C) Falconi reviewed the EU action plan toward Georgia
and focused on the EU's demand for progress on frozen
conflicts in addition to progress in implementing reforms.
Fried agreed that reform was important, as was constructive
Georgian behavior with respect to the regional conflicts, but
added that Georgia should not be held responsible for Russian
obstructionism, e.g., on Abkhazia, as this gave too much
leverage to Russia. He argued that Georgia needs incentives,
not just U.S. pressure, which the MAP process could provide.



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11. (C) Fried noted public U.S. statements that the
international community will work with whatever government
emerges from the Ukrainian elections, while privately
encouraging the divided Orange coalition to re-unite. Terral
agreed with this approach and said that former PM Tymoshenko
and President Yushchenko should join together. He noted,
however, that personality differences may make it impossible
for them to do so.

12. (C) Terral emphasized that businessman and Regions leader
Rinat Akhmetov appears to be moving into the forefront of
Regions leadership at the expense of former PM Yanukovych.
Saying he bears watching, Terral described Akhmetov as smart,
pragmatic, and not exclusively Moscow-oriented. Terral
thought an Akhmetov-led Regions party could eventually evolve
in the right direction. Fried agreed, but emphasized that
Akhmetov's evolution was still a work in progress, and an
Orange coalition was the best short-term answer for Ukraine.
Terral reiterated it was important for the West to open a
dialogue with the Regions party. Fried agreed.




13. (C) Terral said there is a new dynamic in Belarus; for
the first time, the opposition is credible and united. He
stressed the need to promote and help opposition leader
Alexander Milinkevich in a subtle way, so as to make sure he
is not expelled or imprisoned. Milinkevich, said Terral, had
the right approach; he wanted to become a viable candidate
for the next elections, not last week's. Terral said it was
possible, perhaps, to encourage Moscow to think favorably of
Milinkevich, given that he is pragmatic and not anti-Russian.
France supports inviting him to meet with the EU, OSCE and
even NATO, but would be against his visiting capitals such as
Prague, Vilnius and Warsaw, because this would make him
appear as a pro-West puppet, and therefore diminish his
credibility with Moscow.

14. (C) Fried agreed with Terral's points, but noted that
Russia should not be given the right to determine what
countries Milinkevich should visit, and which he should not.
Fried also raised the situation of students involved in the
recent demonstrations in Minsk and now in danger of expulsion
from their schools. The EU and the U.S. should think
creatively about how to help these students, said Fried, to
show that the West has not forgotten them.




15. (C) Fried argued that the possibility of progress toward
a settlement, thought to be dead in the water at Rambouillet,
has been resuscitated. Laboulaye asked if Russia could be
trusted to play a positive role. Fried said he thought
Russia was in a constructive mode on Nagorno-Karabakh, if
only to keep the U.S. from moving unilaterally. Minsk
co-chair Amb. Fassier wondered whether Azerbaijani President
Aliyev was ready to deal, given his public hard-line and
references to a military option. He also questioned whether
Armenian President Kocharian was more concerned about
succession and whether Russian participation in a PKF would
be more like Abkhazia or SFOR. Fried agreed that there were
many uncertainties in the process, but concluded that there
was nonetheless a chance of success. After some reflection,
Laboulaye agreed it was worth another try. Fassier expressed
hope for an agreement on principles by the St. Petersburg
summit and noted that the issue would be discussed during an
upcoming April 19 meeting in Russia. Carre suggested
postponing discussions on a PKF, given that the OSCE's HLPG
was not ready. He suggested another body would need to do
planning unless a "real" HLPG were created.




16. (C) Laboulaye noted that Russia was "in the background"
of many of the issues discussed, and had furthermore been the
subject of much discussion during the previous day's meeting
between President Chirac and the Secretary. Laboualye agreed
with Fried that Russia cannot be allowed to determine our
policy toward countries in the region. In his longest
intervention, he underscored, however, that there was also
another logic of relations with Russia, especially for
Europeans. A good relationship with Russia was central to

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French thinking, and France wants to avoid the (re)creation
of blocs. French thinking on MAP, Georgia and Ukraine should
be seen in this light. Fried replied that good relations
with Russia are an important goal worth pursuing, even in the
face of current difficulties, but it would be a mistake to
cater to Russia's irrational emotions. Georgia should be
allowed to make its own case, and not have it defined by

17. (C) Regarding energy security, Falconi said that national
policies on energy were beginning to evolve in an EU
direction as a result of Russia's pressure on Ukraine.
Laboulaye underscored the harm Russia had done to its
international credibility as an energy supplier because of
its recent heavy-handedness in dealing with Ukraine and
Moldova. Fried said the U.S. was prepared to discuss energy
issues with the EU and/or individual member states as
appropriate, but needs advice on who will be the appropriate
interlocutor. In addition, Fried warned that Russian
domination of Georgia could have a potentially negative
impact on European and U.S. energy security.

18. (U) A/S Fried has cleared this message.
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