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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06THEHAGUE353
2006-02-16 10:45:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

NETHERLANDS/NAVAL EXERCISES: DUTCH CABINET HAS

Tags:   PGOV  MOPS  PHSA  MARR  PINS  PREL  SNAR  XL  NT  VE 
pdf how-to read a cable
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RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO PRIORITY 0171
RUEHTG/AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA PRIORITY 0085
RUEHAO/AMCONSUL CURACAO PRIORITY 0199
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2094
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 000353 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2011
TAGS: PGOV MOPS PHSA MARR PINS PREL SNAR XL NT VE
NL
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/NAVAL EXERCISES: DUTCH CABINET HAS
THE BALL

REF: A. A) THE HAGUE 311 B) SORENSEN E-MAIL


B. 2/15/06 C) THE HAGUE 275 D) STATE 18806

Classified By: CDA Chat Blakeman; reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) This is an action/guidance request. Please see para


7.



2. (C) Summary: The Dutch cabinet is seized with the issue of
proposed carrier port calls to the Netherlands Antilles and
is expected to discuss it, as well as the upcoming Caribbean
Lion exercise, at the February 17 cabinet meeting. A final
decision, however, will all also require consultations
between authorities in The Hague and in the islands, which
could add a few days to the decision making process.
National Security Advisor Rob Swartbol and MFA Western
Hemisphere Kingdom Affairs Advisor Karel de Vey Mestdagh have
both stressed to us the GONL's desire to strike the right
balance in dealing with Venezuela. On the one hand, The
Netherlands wants to make sure the GOV is clear it has no
veto over Dutch actions in the Netherlands Antilles; on the
other, strong ties between the Antilleans and Venezuelans
could cause an overly provocative approach to backfire.
Among the options being considered would be to welcome a
carrier visit to St. Maartens while passing, for now, on a
Curacao port call. End summary.

Decision is with the cabinet


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





3. (C) NSA Swartbol confirmed in a February 14 meeting with
Charge that the questions of U.S. amphibious participation in
the Dutch Caribbean Lion (CL) exercises and of the proposed
carrier port visits were before the cabinet. The issues were
discussed at a cabinet meeting on February 10 but no
conclusions were reached; the next cabinet meeting at which
the issues could be on the agenda is on February 17.
Swartbol said that he and several cabinet advisors would be
travelling to the Dutch naval headquarters at Den
Helder on February 15 for a day-long retreat, and these
issues were likely to be raised. Swartbol confirmed that
there is a difference of opinion between the Dutch military
and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but he hoped a closer
understanding would emerge from the retreat. In general, MOD
is more comfortable with a Curacao carrier visit than is MFA.



4. (C) Swartbol emphasized the importance of historical and
family ties between the Netherlands Antilles and Venezuela.
He noted that ties extend into the government of the
Netherlands Antilles and even to some in the Dutch diplomatic
service. Dutch proprietary feelings about the islands run
deep, he said: "they are our islands," and "we think we know
best" how to deal with them. That said, he believed that the
U.S. and the GONL are "almost on the same line" with regard
to Venezuela policy. We need a tough stance, he said, but
the GONL does not want to unnecessarily provoke Chavez into

taking retaliation.

Consultations with Netherlands Antilles


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





5. (C) Swartbol noted also that the GONL would have to
consult with the Government of the Netherlands Antilles (NA),
before any final decision could be made. In a separate
meeting on February 15, MFA Western Hemisphere Kingdom
Affairs Advisor Karel de Vey Mestdagh told poloff that there
was a constitutional requirement to consult with the NA
government before the cabinet could make a final decision.
He noted, however, that such consultations could be concluded
within a few days and should not create a significant delay
in the process.

GONL sensitivities: Constitutional Restructuring


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

---

THE HAGUE 00000353 002 OF 002





6. (C) De Vey Mestdagh underlined Swartbol's comments
concerning historical and family ties to Venezuela. The
islands began a process of constituional reform in November


2005. It is likely that St. Maarten and Curacao will achieve
a degree of autonomy similar to that of Aruba, while the
other three islands of the Netherlands Antilles will move to
something closer to Dutch protectorate status. The GONL does
not want to give Chavez any help in disturbing, or taking
advantage of, the negotiations. The process is officially
scheduled to conclude in mid-2007, but both de Vey Mestdagh
and his deputy, Anton Schellekens, expect it to take until
2008 or 2009.

Possible Compromise Proposal


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





6. (C) De vey Mestdagh confirmed that one option the cabinet
is considering would be a compromise under which the George
Washington would be invited to visit St. Maarten, with the
more politically sensitive port call to Curacao delayed until
a more propitious time. (Note: This is consistent with ref
b.) He noted, however, that the MFA had been informed by MOD
that such an option would be unacceptable to the USG, and
asked whether this was the case. POLOFF stressed that we
have not received guidance on this option, which, as far as
we know, has not been formally proposed.



7. (C) Action/Guidance Request: The Cabinet is likely to
discuss the port visit request on February 17 and may even
take a preliminary decision. If there is an agreed USG
position with regard to the possible compromise described
para 6, it would be useful to convey it to the GONL before it
makes an offer we are likley to reject. Post therefore
requests cleared front channel guidance by COB February 16
clarifying the the USG's likely response to such a proposal.
End Action/Guidance Request.
BLAKEMAN