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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07FRANKFURT671
2007-02-12 14:14:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Consulate Frankfurt
Cable title:  

Social Democratic Leader on Trans-Atlantic Relations, U.S.

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  GM 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO4927
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHLZ
DE RUEHFT #0671/01 0431414
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121414Z FEB 07
FM AMCONSUL FRANKFURT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9508
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 FRANKFURT 000671 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR GM
SUBJECT: Social Democratic Leader on Trans-Atlantic Relations, U.S.
Military Presence, and EU Presidency

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 FRANKFURT 000671

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR GM
SUBJECT: Social Democratic Leader on Trans-Atlantic Relations, U.S.
Military Presence, and EU Presidency

Sensitive but unclassified; not for internet distribution.


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On February 1, national SPD Chairman and
Rheinland-Pfalz Minister-President Kurt Beck spoke with the Consul
General at the state chancellery in Mainz, praising trans-Atlantic
relations, raising concerns about military stationing issues, and
offering his take on goals for the German EU/G-8 presidencies. Beck
is the most likely SPD candidate for chancellor in 2009; insiders
tell us contingency planning for a potential run has already begun.
END SUMMARY.

Transatlantic Relations and Military Presence
--------------


2. (SBU) Beck characterized the German-U.S. relationship as bound by
"deep emotional ties" formed during the immediate postwar period
which have continued despite occasional political differences. He
welcomed U.S. military expansion/investment at Ramstein and
Spangdahlem airbases, but voiced concern over the future of
Baumholder. (NOTE: Baumholder is a U.S. Army training site in
Rheinland-Pfalz whose future is uncertain under current force
restructuring plans. In the event of U.S. army pullout,
Rheinland-Pfalz has asked the German government to transform
Baumholder into a civil-military training site, e.g. to train for
peace-keeping duties and available for use by German, U.S., and
third-country units, but it is unclear whether German federal
authorities will proceed with the plan. END NOTE.)


3. (SBU) Calling Ramstein a central hub for the U.S., Europe and the
Middle East, Beck characterized Baumholder as an important component
of the military's operations in the region. During his recent trip
to NATO headquarters in Brussels, he mentioned his interest in the
U.S. maintaining a strong profile in Germany. He also expressed a
desire that Congressional delegations meet with him or other German
officials, whenever possible, as they transit the region or visit
Ramstein/Landstuhl.


4. (U) Beck welcomes his increased contact with Ambassador Timken,
as a result of the time he spends in Berlin in his role as national

SPD chairman. Beck says he plans to visit the U.S. within the next
year.

German EU/G-8 Presidencies
--------------


5. (U) Beck sees three major issues on the German agenda for the
first half of 2007:

-- The European Constitution: Beck conceded that due to obstacles
such as the May presidential election in France, this goal cannot be
fully realized during the German EU Presidency. However, according
to him, Germany must reach out to constitutional treaty opponents
(such as France, Netherlands, others) to convince them of the merits
of the constitution.

-- Europe needs a social dimension -- There is a need to re-connect
the people of Europe with the ideals that European unity stands for
(including solidarity, stability, and freedom according to Beck).
In addition, Brussels must carefully think through the consequences
of its decisions and be more accessible to the people.

-- Neighborhood Policy -- Europe needs to improve its relationship
with its southern and eastern neighbors, Russia in particular.


6. (U) On the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome (March 25),
Beck argues that Germany must take advantage of this commemoration
to remind Europeans of the ideals of Europe and how far they have
come in the last half-century. As for the G-8, Beck hopes that
Germany can inject new momentum into the WTO and global economic
discussions. Bilateral economic agreements are a less-satisfactory
solution according to Beck. He also believes that regulation of
international finance needs to be improved, but offered no
substantive solutions.

Is Beck Positioning Himself for Chancellor Run in 2009?
-------------- --------------


7. (SBU) As national SPD chairman, M-P Beck claims the right of
first refusal for a run as the SPD candidate for chancellor in 2009.
Rheinland-Pfalz state chancellery insiders tell us that Beck
considers Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, Federal Environment Minister
Sigmar Gabriel, and Federal Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck to be
his main competitors at this point. Although Beck has been somewhat
evasive about his plans for 2009, a Beck associate told us privately
that a special committee has been formed at the R-P state

FRANKFURT 00000671 002 OF 002


chancellery to start preparing for a potential campaign -- a
campaign that, according to the contact, will focus on economic and
reform issues. Members of the state parliament and political
insiders also told us that they are convinced Beck will make a run
for chancellor in 2009. SPD HQ staff has told Berlin that they also
consider Beck to be the likely chancellor candidate in 2009.

Comment
--------------


8. (SBU) Beck and his cabinet in Mainz have generally been favorable
to the U.S. and recognize the economic importance of the significant
U.S military presence in the state (including Ramstein, Spangdahlem
and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center). On the domestic side, Beck
continues to maintain a tight grip on the SPD in Rheinland-Pfalz and
does not appear ready to hand the reins over to a successor. Though
time remains before the 2009 national elections and Beck has yet to
announce his plans, his inner circle has already begun the
preparations for a potential run at the chancellorship. A
significant strategy question facing Beck will be whether to step
down as M-P, should he be named chancellor candidate, or remain in
office through the election -- having been re-elected as M-P last
year, his term lasts until 2011. Should he step down, a national
defeat could leave him with nowhere to go.


9. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

POWELL