wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07SOFIA114 2007-01-25 14:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Sofia
Cable title:  

BULGARIA LEANS FORWARD ON AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ,

Tags:   PREL MOPS NATO MARR CVIS IZ AF SR BU 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO8413
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSF #0114/01 0251442
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251442Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY SOFIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3115
INFO RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 0930
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SOFIA 000114 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2017
TAGS: PREL MOPS NATO MARR CVIS IZ AF SR BU
SUBJECT: BULGARIA LEANS FORWARD ON AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ,
CONCERNED ABOUT POSSIBLE KOSOVO DELAY

REF: A. STATE 8983

B. STATE 7434

C. SENIOR-NORDBERG E-MAIL 1/22/07

Classified By: Ambassador John Beyrle, reasons 1.4(b) and (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY. Foreign Minister Kalfin told the Ambassador
January 25 that Bulgaria had lifted its caveat regarding
night operations in Afghanistan, and that there was political
will to lift at least some caveats pending receipt of
additional training and equipment. The government expects
parliament to approve quickly its plan to send an additional
mechanized infantry company to Afghanistan. On Iraq, we
informed Kalfin that the diplomatic note regarding the
extension of Bulgaria's mission at Camp Ashraf (ref A) would
be delivered to the MOD later that day. Kalfin said the
exchange of notes would likely be approved by the Council of
Ministers at its meeting on February 1 and then submitted to
parliament for what he expects will be rapid approval.
Kalfin agreed that Kosovo's final status should be resolved
without delay, but expressed concern about what he said was
EU Enlargement Commissioner Rehn's statement that Ahtisaari
would present his plan to the two sides in a piecemeal
fashion rather than all at once. He responded positively to
our suggestion that Bulgaria host the next meeting of the
"Vilnius 10" and said he hoped the newer members of the EU
could avoid an "unhealthy competition" for inclusion in the
Visa Waiver Program. END SUMMARY.

AFGHANISTAN


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





2. (C) The Ambassador previewed ref B goals for the January
26 informal NATO ministerial, previously delivered to the MFA
at the Director level (ref C). Kalfin, who had clearly been
briefed, said he appreciated the USG's long-term approach and
the need to combine political, economic and military efforts
to defeat the Taliban. He confirmed that Bulgaria planned to
send an additional mechanized infantry company --
approximately 120 solders -- to Afghanistan. Kalfin said he
had spoken recently to MOD Bliznakov and President Parvanov,
and that they had agreed to submit the proposal to parliament
as soon as possible. His message was clear: parliamentary
approval should not be delayed by a discussion of caveats.
"We think we can do something on caveats," Kalfin said, but
discussions with the MOD were ongoing. MOD sources have told
us they expect the additional forces to arrive in Afghanistan
in June or July.



3. (C) Kalfin said he was arguing within the government for
lifting the caveats on Bulgarian forces, but acknowledged
that the MOD made a strong case for waiting until the troops
could trained for additional missions and equipped with
armored vehicles. He repeated the MOD's request for
expedited delivery of armored HMMWV's requested under the FMF
program. He implied however, that the government would do
all it could in the meantime, noting that it had recently
lifted its prohibition on nighttime operations in
Afghanistan. Responding to the Ambassador's point on the
importance of explaining the mission to the Bulgarian public,
Kalfin said he and others in the government would use the
opportunity of the coming parliamentary debate to speak out
publicly on the importance of the mission. "We will adopt a
very clear stance on the commitment to Afghanistan," he
added. Kalfin also noted that the government anticipated
that Canada would assist with transportation of an additional
500 tons of Bulgarian arms and ammunition for the ANA. He
said the arms and related equipment, including night-vision
goggles, had already been inspected by NATO experts.
Bulgaria would also consider training some Afghan military
personnel in Bulgaria.

IRAQ


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





4. (C) Kalfin was pleased with the news that were about to
deliver the requested diplomatic note (ref A) on the terms
for extending Bulgaria's mission at Camp Ashraf. He said MOD
Bliznakov would submit the exchange of notes to the Council
of Ministers for approval at its next meeting on February 1,
and the government would pass the agreement to parliament by
the middle of February. (N.B. The Bulgarian follow-on force
is already being trained and is expected to deploy before the
mandate of the current force expires on March 31.) In
response to the Ambassador's briefing on the USG's Iraq
strategy, Kalfin asked for our assessment of the capacity and

SOFIA 00000114 002 OF 002


reliability of the current Iraqi government. Much like PM
Stanishev, Kalfin appeared to have been sobered by his visit
to Iraq in December. He noted the Maliki government's
somewhat contradictory tendency to say that it could do
things better than Coalition forces while at the same time
using the presence of the Coalition to abjure responsibility.
He characterized this trend toward "anti-American populism"
as dangerous.

KOSOVO


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





5. (C) Kalfin said he fully agreed with our approach on
Kosovo. "If the process is delayed," he said, "we don't know
where it will end up." Regrettably, neighboring countries --
Kalfin mentioned Greece and Romania -- were taking a go-slow
approach within the EU. The Serbs, for their part, "prefer
to talk to states that tell them what they want to hear."
Nevertheless, he agreed that it was important for Bulgaria to
remain engaged with its neighbor as the process unfolded, and
to serve as an example for Belgrade of successful European
integration in the Balkans. Kalfin said Kostunica was in no
rush to see a government formed, but that he could not drag
the process out beyond the middle of May even if he wanted
to. For better or worse, "Kosovo will provide the basis for
the formation of the government," Kalfin said. In his
judgment, it would be better to resolve Kosovo's status
before the government is formed. "The most we can hope for
is (a new government headed by Tadic's democratic Party) not
to oppose it too much." The worst-case scenario would be for
Kostunica to form a government with the Radicals, a prospect
he said was unlikely could not be entirely ruled out.



6. (C) At the January 22 GAERC meeting, Kalfin said that
Bulgaria supported the Greek position that the EU should
re-open talks with Belgrade on a Stabilization and
Association Agreement (SAA), but that negotiations could not
be concluded until Mladic was rendered to the Hague. This
would give Serbia "a clear European perspective" without
abandoning ICTY conditionality. Other countries, including
France and the Netherlands, argued for stricter
conditionality. Kalfin said the GAERC had also discussed a
USD one billion economic package for Serbia, including debt
reduction and World Bank loans, and a relaxation of visa
requirements. Bulgaria's position was that the EU should
develop an economic and political "package" for Serbia,
rather than engaging Belgrade piecemeal.



7. (C) Kalfin expressed concern about what he said was a
statement by EU Enlargement Commissioner Oli Rehn to the
effect that Ahtisaari would only present part of his plan to
Belgrade and Pristina in the coming days, and that the full
plan would be presented later. Kalfin said it would be
better to put everything on the table at once, thereby
leaving "less room for bargaining." The Ambassador undertook
to clarify Ahtisaari's intentions and get back to Kalfin.


VISA WAIVER, VILNIUS-10 MEETING


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





8. (C) Kalfin said he had received an "urgent" call the
previous evening from Ambassador Poptodorova in Washington.
She had just come from a briefing at the Department on the
Visa Waiver Program and was concerned that Central and East
European (CEE) neighbors were pitting themselves against each
other in an effort to get into the program. Kalfin decried
this "unhealthy competition among new EU members" and called
on the USG to take a "common, principled approach" toward all
countries seeking entry into the VWP. The Ambassador said
the discussion of VWP at the January 24 meeting with CEE
officials in Prague (on which Kalfin had not yet been
briefed) would provide a clear view of the U.S. approach and
help curb this competition.



9. (C) In closing, the Ambassador suggested that Bulgaria
consider hosting the next meeting of "Vilnius 10" political
directors in Sofia. Kalfin responded positively, and agreed
that energy security should be one of the topics for
discussion. We will follow up January 26 with
newly-appointed Political Director Valentin Poryazov.
BEYRLE