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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08ATHENS1539 2008-11-10 15:41:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Athens
Cable title:  

GEORGIAN FM VISIT TO ATHENS: GREEK, GEORGIAN

Tags:   PREL PGOV OSCE GR RS GG 
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VZCZCXRO7664
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTH #1539/01 3151541
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101541Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2764
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0423
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 001539 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/10/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV OSCE GR RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN FM VISIT TO ATHENS: GREEK, GEORGIAN
READOUTS DIFFER

Classified By: A/POLCOUNS JEFFREY HOVENIER. REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY: During her November 6-7 visit to Athens,
Georgian FM Tkeshelashvili discussed with FM Bakoyannis and
other Greek interlocutors problems with the OSCE observer
mission in Georgia, the recent donors' conferences, the
plight of IDPs, the Geneva talks, energy pipelines, and
domestic issues in Georgia. Readouts from the Greek MFA and
Georgian Embassy differed considerably in emphasis and
details. The MFA stressed Greek agreement with many Georgian
requests for support on OSCE and NATO issues. The Georgians
saw the Greeks as largely in listening mode and voiced
concerns about the Greek ability to withstand Russian
pressure when Greece assumes the OSCE Chairmanship in
January. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) Georgian FM Ekaterine Tkeshelashvili made a 24-hour
visit to Athens November 6-7 before heading to Paris for
discussions with the French in advance of the November 10
GAERC and November 14 EU-Russia Summit. Tkeshelashvili met
with Greek FM Bakoyannis in an office call and then at an
official lunch. She also met with First Vice President of
the Parliament Giorgos Sourlas; discussed topical issues with
MFA NATO, OSCE, and CIS experts; participated in a roundtable
with think-tankers and NGOs at the ELIAMEP think tank; and
held a press conference. We received readouts from both the
MFA and the Georgian Embassy, which agreed on the basic items
of discussion but differed on important details.

VIEW FROM THE MFA


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





3. (C) Top MFA Georgia specialist Stella Bezirtzoglou of the
A5 Directorate for the CIS Countries told us the Greeks
expected the Georgians to make a push for NATO MAP, but in
fact Tkeshelashvili did not raise MAP, focusing instead only
on getting a "positive assessment" from NATO on its reform
progress. The Georgian FM reportedly argued that they
needed such an assessment as a positive message to the
Georgian population and to offset Russian propaganda.
Bezirtzoglou claimed FM Bakoyannis agreed to help Georgia get
a positive assessment.



4. (C) On the OSCE, Tkeshelashvili complained about the
problems the observers were encountering in trying to do
their jobs in South Ossetia and Abkhazia because of Russian
refusal to allow access. Bakoyannis promised that as
Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE beginning January 1, she would
discuss Georgia with Russia, and Greece would "do all it
could to support" the OSCE observer mission. Bezirtzoglou,
who is an astute observer of both Russia and Georgia, said
the MFA believed the Russians did not want the OSCE involved
in the Georgia issue and were following a classic "divide et
impera" approach to split the OSCE.



5. (C) Tkeshelashvili reportedly said Georgia was very
satisfied with the donors' conferences in support of her
country. Some of the funds received were being used to build
new housing for the 35,000 new IDPs from the recent crisis
(in addition to 200,000 IDPs from previous conflicts in the
separatist regions). Tkeshelashvili was optimistic that all
the IDPs would soon have housing. Work on infrastructure
reconstruction was also progressing.



6. (C) On the Geneva talks, Tkeshelashvili reportedly said
Georgia was willing to be flexible in allowing the
participation of representatives from South Ossetia and
Abkhazia -- but not in the capacity of representing state
entities. The Russians, she said, remained intransigent on
the issue.



7. (C) On other issues, the Georgian FM argued for pipeline
security while also noting that Georgia was now receiving no
gas or oil from Russia. On the domestic economic situation,
Tkeshelashvili said the situation in Georgia was now bad, but
Russia was still jealous because at least Georgia was still
receiving some foreign investment while Russia was not. On
the domestic political front, the FM talked about Georgia's
ongoing democratic reforms, which FM Bakoyannis said Greece
wanted to assist. Finally, there was some discussion of the
situation of the Greek diaspora in Georgia (which during the
Soviet period may have numbered as high as 100,000 but had
shrunk to 10-15,000 following emigrations to Greece after the
fall of the USSR).

A DIFFERENT TWIST FROM THE GEORGIANS


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





8. (C) Georgian DCM Zurab Aleksidze did not disagree with the

ATHENS 00001539 002 OF 002


general outline of Bezirtzoglou's readout but focused on
different subjects as the thrust of the visit and had a
different view of the Greek responsiveness to Georgian
requests. Aleksidze said the main goal of the Georgian FM's
visit was to assess Greek preparation for assuming the OSCE
Chairmanship in January. Georgia was very concerned about
the current situation of OSCE observers and their lack of
access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both the Russian and
the separatists, according to Aleksidze, did not accept that
the OSCE observer mission was necessary. Georgia, on the
other hand, would not accept any "radical" changes to the
OSCE mandate in Georgia.



9. (C) At the same time, Georgia had concerns about the OSCE
beyond the immediate problem of the observers. There was no
mention of Medvedev's latest proposal on a new security
arrangement for Europe, and Georgia was worried that Greece
would not be able to meet the expectations of both the
Georgians and Russians in negotiations. Indeed, FM
Bakoyannis reportedly herself said she was concerned about
unrealistic expectations going into the Chairmanship.
Otherwise, according to Aleksidze, the Greeks provided little
on their views of the OSCE Chairmanship. The Greeks,
Aleksidze said, were much more focused on the humanitarian
question and the plight of IDPs in Georgia. Georgia
appreciated Greek assistance but wanted to broaden the
conversation to address political issues as well.



10. (C) On other issues, Aleksidze confirmed that there were
discussions on the health of the Georgian economy and
Georgia's progress on democratic reforms, as well as general
discussion of energy pipelines. He said there had been some
discussion of the NATO Ministerial in December, though
Georgia was not expecting any breakthroughs. The NATO
experts in the MFA D1 Directorate appeared to lack any new
ideas. The Greeks promised to help with Georgian reforms,
but, overall, the Greek attitude, according to Aleksidze, was
one of "the ball is in Georgia's court." Finally, returning
to the OSCE Chairmanship, in response to a question whether
Georgia had faith in the Greeks to push the Russians on OSCE
issues, Aleksidze replied "not much." The Greeks, he said,
were not self-confident at the OSCE, and Georgia was very
concerned that they would not be able to stand up to Russian
pressure.
SPECKHARD