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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BERLIN1318 2008-09-24 11:57:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
Cable title:  

GERMANY LOOKING FOR SMALL STEP FORWARD IN BELARUS

Tags:   GM PREL PHUM RU GG PGOV BO 
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VZCZCXRO0433
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHRL #1318 2681157
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241157Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2244
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS PRIORITY 0232
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
					C O N F I D E N T I A L BERLIN 001318 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2018
TAGS: GM PREL PHUM RU GG PGOV BO
SUBJECT: GERMANY LOOKING FOR SMALL STEP FORWARD IN BELARUS

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Jeffrey Rathke for reasons:
1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY: MFA and Chancellery contacts appeared in
agreement regarding Belarus and expected the EU to ease
restrictions following the Belarussian parliamentary
elections on September 28. The GOG hopes that the elections
will reflect "an improvement over last time," which in
conjunction with the recent release of the last three
political prisoners, will warrant the EU reviewing the
restrictive measures. MFA Deputy Division Head for Russia,
Ukraine, and Belarus Henning Simon opined that the EU likely
would lighten the restrictive measures even if Belarus
President Lukashenko recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
END SUMMARY

A SMALL STEP FORWARD



2. (C) During a conference billed as a "Friends of Belarus"
meeting September 22 in Berlin, organized by the German
Marshall Fund and the Bertelsmann Foundation and attended by
a number of German parliamentarians and officials as well as
Belarussian opposition figures, MFA Office Director for
Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus Ernst Reichel repeatedly
emphasized that the EU already would have eased restrictions
against Belarus following the release of the final three
political prisoners had it not been for the proximity of the
parliamentary elections. In Reichel's view, the EU would
have "looked foolish" had it eased restrictions and the
elections then went horribly. However, Reichel said that the
GOG views Belarus as having met the stipulations laid out in
the restrictive measures and if Sunday's elections represent
a "step forward," the EU will ease the restrictions. Reichel
related that "even" Poland and Lithuania are interested in
decreasing if not eliminating the measures. Chancellery
Deputy Head of CIS Division Christoph Israng concurred with
Reichel's interpretation. In a separate meeting, MFA Belarus
Desk Officer Stephen Iro said that the EU may invite Belarus
FM Sergei Martynov to the next GAERC on October 13-14 should
the elections indicate an improvement.

BUT NOT CONTINUED RESISTANCE TO RECOGNITION



3. (C) During the conference, POLOFF stressed that the U.S.
also viewed Lukashenko's continued resistance to recognizing
South Ossetia and Abkhazia as crucial to any improvement in
relations, but the German delegation appeared hesitant to
link broader geopolitical concerns to easing restrictions.
(Note: In a separate meeting, MFA Deputy Office Director for
Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus Henning Simon opined that the EU
likely would lighten some of the restrictive measures even if
Belarus President Lukashenko recognizes South Ossetia and
Abkhazia. End Note.)



4. (C) Bundestag Green Party Member Marieluise Beck
recognized that the Russia-Georgia war changes Germany's
relations with Belarus, but bemoaned that Germany "had not
begun" to consider the implications. Beck was part of the
recent Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee trip to Moscow and
Kyiv, and related that her time in Kyiv revealed the
increased Russian aggressiveness and demand for a "zone of
influence." Beck questioned whether Lukashenko felt this
increased aggressiveness, and Belarus Institute for Strategic
Studies Director Vitali Silitski concluded that Lukashenko is
playing the "West card" to maintain some independence in the
face of Russian influence.



5. (C) COMMENT: Although Belarus opposition members such as
Belarussian Popular Front member Lyavon Barchevski and NGO
Our House member Olga Karach repeatedly argued that Sunday's
elections would represent simple technical improvements
rather than any real move toward democratic elections, the
German participants appeared to view the technical
improvement as grounds for easing EU restrictions.
KOENIG