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08THEHAGUE789 2008-09-23 09:57:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

NETHERLANDS/GEORGIA: STEP ONE, DEPLOY OBSERVERS

Tags:   PHUM PREL PGOV NL GG EU 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: The Dutch want to keep the deployment of
observers to Georgia on track. S/WCI Ambassador Williamson
urged the Dutch to press within the EU for access to affected
areas and an open investigation into war crimes, but the
Dutch responded cautiously. Post assesses that the Dutch are
unlikely to strengthen their rhetoric on Russian in the near
term. END SUMMARY.

DUTCH DEPLOYING TO GEORGIA


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





2. (C) The Dutch will contribute to the EU mission in Georgia
-- the Dutch cabinet approved the deployment of three
military police and nine civilian observers on September 19.
Poloff delivered reftel A points to Dutch MFA EU
Correspondent Desire Kopmels and Hugo Klijn, Head of the
Southeast and Eastern Europe Department. In a briefing for
non-EU diplomats, Kopmels reported September 10 that FM
Verhagen told the Dutch parliament the Netherlands will
contribute "proportionally" to the EU mission to Georgia.
Kopmels emphasized that the EU mission needs to be in place
by October 1 to avoid giving Russia grounds to delay
withdrawal. Concerning the situation on the ground, she
agreed that "seeing is believing" when it comes to Russian
compliance with the ceasefire agreement.

CAUTION ON RESPONDING TO RUSSIAN CLAIMS


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





3. (C) The Dutch were hesitant to respond strongly to
Russian claims against Georgia. S/WCI Ambassador Williamson
pressed reftel B points with Klijn, Klijn's deputy Cees
Roels, and Peter van der Vliet, chief of the UN Political and
Legal affairs during a meeting September 16. Williamson
stressed the need for a robust EU mission that is will be
able to restore security and investigate alleged crimes
throughout Georgia while also reviewing his recent visit to
Georgia, including interviews with human rights organizations
and other evidence of abuses against the Georgian population
in South Ossetia.



4. (C) Klijn described a delicate dialogue between the EU and
Russia, calling discussions, &step by step." When
Ambassador Williamson stressed the importance of looking into
abuses throughout Georgia, including South Ossetia and
Abkahzia, the Dutch countered that their first objective is
to see the EU observers deploy, to get Russia to withdraw
from the security zones. After that, the international
community can address the status of the breakaway regions in
Geneva on October 15. Humanitarian concerns are important,
but the key issue now is the pragmatic matter of deployment.
Klijn noted that German FM Steinmeier proposed an
international investigation of the events in Georgia.
Williamson stressed that an investigation into the August 7-8
initiation of the conflict was useless if it did not also
investigate the aftermath. Klijn responded that he expected
little from the Steinmeier initiative because as the lead
mediator between Georgia and Russia, the EU is in an awkward
position of guaranteeing the non-use of force by Georgia, so
it is difficult to press Russia. Klijn agreed to "take on
board" ideas for the Steinmeier proposal as the modalities
become clear. Roels suggested it might be best for
international institutions (such as the ICJ and ICC) to lead
the investigation rather than the EU, which faces political
constraints. According to Roels, the EU has no ability to
investigate the actions of individuals and has strict terms
of reference. Klijn listed several other complicating
factors in response to the proposed investigation. First,
there was a legitimate problem with the translation of the
EU-Russia ceasefire agreement that will make it difficult for
observers to gain access to the breakaway regions in the near
future. Also, the EU "can't do much" to get into the
regions. Finally, the coincidence of three events on October
15 -- the Geneva meeting on Georgia, an EU meeting, and the
expiration of the UN Georgia mission's mandate -- means there
is little time and a diversion of attention to address these
issues.



5. (C) COMMENT: The Dutch are on the record condemning
Russia's use of "disproportionate" force. At a September 17

THE HAGUE 00000789 002 OF 002


event for diplomats and academics, the Dutch MFA DG for
European Cooperation, I.M. de Jong, cited this language as
evidence the Netherlands is "extremely critical" of Russia.
At the same time, he noted that the Dutch are following a
pragmatic approach to "get results" -- "no business as usual"
with Russia does not mean "no business." De Jong did not
mention that Dutch Trade Secretary Heemskerk will lead a
50-person business delegation to Russia on September 29 to
October 3. Post believes stronger condemnation of Russia is
unlikely barring strong, public evidence of human rights
violations. END COMMENT.
Culbertson