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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08ATHENS1152
2008-08-11 14:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Athens
Cable title:  

GEORGIA CRISIS: GREEKS SCRAMBLING TO FORMULATE

Tags:   AEMR  ASEC  CASC  MARR  PREL  PINR  AMGT  KFLO  GR 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTH #1152 2241424
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111424Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2327
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 001152 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2018
TAGS: AEMR ASEC CASC MARR PREL PINR AMGT KFLO GR
SUBJECT: GEORGIA CRISIS: GREEKS SCRAMBLING TO FORMULATE
POSITION

REF: SECSTATE 85678

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES DEBORAH MCCARTHY.
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)




1. (C) Charge delivere U.S. position on
a Qdemning Russian militar Constantinos Bitsios, @M
Karamanlis, and to Ha FM Bakoyannis.
Bitsiososition had not yet be(###)
need for calm in deliberations.
Lalacos likewise demurred from providing a Greek position,
noting that FM Bakoyannis would enunciate the Greek view in
Brussels, where she would attend the EU special session on
Wednesday.



2. (C) A/Polcouns delivered reftel points to Stella
Bezirtzoglou, First Counsellor and Georgia Desk chief in the
MFA A5 Directorate for the CIS Countries, and to Efthymios
Pantzopoulos, acting head of the MFA D2 Directorate for NATO.
Bezirtzoglou said the Russians had come to see her earlier
in the day to defend their position, and she took a call
during our meeting from Russian EmbOff Denis Federov
elaborating further details. The Russians claimed they were
acting legally in the role as a "treaty guarantor" -- a
position Bezirtzoglou said starkly reminded her of Turkey's
justifications for its occupation of northern Cyprus. They
also had argued Russian actions were shaped by NATO's actions
in Kosovo -- Bezirtzoglou characterized Russia's military
actions as essentially a form of "revenge" for Kosovo.
Further drawing out the comparison with Kosovo, the Russians
said they would push for an international tribunal to examine
the actions of Georgian President Saakashvili. Finally, the
Russians had noted to Bezirtzoglou that Russia would agree to
a ceasefire only if Georgia withdrew from South Ossetia and
pledged not to resume military action against the breakaway
province.



3. (C) As for the Greek official position in the crisis,
Bezirtzoglou also was unable to provide a response, noting
that Bakoyannis would do so in Brussels on Wednesday
(Bezirtzoglou was traveling to Brussels Tuesday to advise the
FM). She explained, however, that Greece had been put into a
difficult position by the crisis due to its close relations
with both Russia and Georgia; that Greece wanted an immediate
ceasefire; and that it had already urged the Russians
privately to support one. Greece also wanted to begin
humanitarian aid to Georgia immediately, but understood
access was now difficult.



4. (C) A/Polcouns noted that Greece often said it wanted to
serve as a "bridge" between Russia and the West, that a
bridge goes both ways, and that now was the time for Greece
to make good in this role by advocating strongly with Russia
to agree to a ceasefire and withdraw from Georgian territory.
Bezirtzoglou responded that Greece agreed substantively with
the U.S. position but needed to avoid taking too sharp a
position with the Russians to avoid alienating them. Greece,
she said, stressed with the Russians the importance of the
territorial integrity of Georgia and could not deny that the
Russians had violated Georgia's borders. At the same time,
it was important to have a "dialogue." A/Polcouns responded
that while a dialogue was important, the Russians needed to
understand that the West would not accept their actions in
Georgia and that comparisons with Kosovo were illegitimate.
Bezirtzoglou said her government was very interested in the
U.S. position on the crisis and asked us to provide her more
information as soon as it was available.



5. (C) COMMENT: The Greeks have gotten themselves into a
tight spot between the Russians and Georgians. There is a
sizable community of Greeks in Georgia and ties date back to
ancient times. We have already seen one pro-Georgian
demonstration in Athens. On the other hand, Greece has
recently drawn closer to Russia, both in economic (energy)
and political terms. The Greeks understand the seriousness
of Russian actions but are wary of criticizing the Russians
directly and publicly. The Greeks are likely to follow the
common EU and NATO positions once formulated in Brussels, but
may urge a "balanced" approach that also notes faults in
Georgia's actions leading up to the crisis. We will continue
to press them to condemn Russia's actions in strong terms.

MCCARTHY