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09ATHENS1657 2009-11-25 16:34:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Athens
Cable title:  

SCENESETTER FOR THE DEPUTY SECRETARY'S VISIT TO GREECE

Tags:   PREL PGOV ECON MARR NATO GR AF TU MK 
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DE RUEHTH #1657/01 3291635
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O R 251634Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1130
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 001657 

SIPDIS
FROM THE AMBASSADOR TO THE DEPUTY SECRETARY
AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA
AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO AMCONSUL ALMATY
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA
AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/25
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON MARR NATO GR AF TU MK
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE DEPUTY SECRETARY'S VISIT TO GREECE

ATHENS 00001657 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Deborah A. McCarthy, Deputy Chief of Mission; REASON:
1.4(B), (D)



1. (C) Welcome to Greece. There have been a lot of changes here
since you last visited in June. We are now building on the
opportunities presented by new Administrations in both Washington
and Athens to cement a partnership that can confront common
strategic challenges beyond the regional issues that have come to
define our relationship in recent years. The good news is that the
Papandreou government is far more willing to be seen to work with
us than were previous Greek governments. It has been encouraging
to see his initial steps on Macedonia and Turkey, in particular.
However, domestic politics including the dire circumstances of the
Greek economy may limit Papandreou's flexibility to implement bold
foreign policy moves as time goes on.





2. (C) Papandreou and his Ministers have been open with us in
expressing their desire for close bilateral partnership, and
continue to stress that the government supports both EU accession
for Turkey and integration into Euroatlantic structures for
Macedonia. We welcome this, but our challenge is at the tactical
level, as Greece holds firm to clearly stated redlines on both
issues. Papandreou's approach to both of these issues has been to
seek to build first a more positive environment with interlocutors,
upon a belief that emphasizing personal relationships may be more
successful in tackling long-simmering disputes. His trip to
Istanbul for a meeting with PM Erdogan four days after taking
office, his call for western Balkans EU accession by 2014, his
early contacts with PM Gruevski, and his recent initiative for an
"environmental summit" with his Albanian and Macedonian neighbors
evidence this strategy.





3. (C) You can help reinforce Papandreou's positive tendencies in
your meeting with him, and seek to establish closer bilateral
coordination of Greek tactics to avoid setbacks such as the
negative public manner in which negotiator Vassilakis' recent
meeting with UN mediator Nimetz was portrayed. This will be
important in the run up to the early December EU Council decisions
on Turkey and Macedonia. A nudge to Papandreou in the right
direction combined with a continued willingness to "listen" to
Greek needs from Turkey and Macedonia, can help encourage Greece to
take an approach that advances our equities, while keeping EU
processes from derailing. On a strategic level, your bilat with
Papandreou can reconfirm the emphasis the Administration places on
broadening our relations with Greece and advance some individual
issues, including:





4. (C) EU: On Macedonia, the Greeks have stressed to us
repeatedly their support for Macedonia's Euroatlantic aspirations,
yet they have been equally clear: they cannot support EU accession
talks without a satisfactory resolution to the name issue.
Papandreou will need to know that we expect Greek flexibility to
avoid a "hard landing" for Macedonian aspirations in Brussels come
December, and that we are pressing Macedonia equally hard to make
the EU meeting a success. On Turkey, Papandreou continues to
support accession, but his diplomatic advisor recently told us he
needed "something" from Turkey on Aegean overflights, immigration,
or the Halki Seminary in order to justify a forward leaning
position in Brussels to a skeptical Greek populace.





5. (C) BALKANS: PM Papandreou has launched an initiative calling
for full integration of the Balkans into European institutions by
2014, which he will present to the European Council on December 9.
His staff has told us this was meant as a clear signal to
Macedonia, and has told us Papandreou intends to take a leadership
role in the region that he believes his predecessor let slide.
Alternate Foreign Minister Droutsas has toured Western Balkan
capitals to introduce the concept. In addition to the bilateral
contact between Papandreou and Gruevski in Brussels earlier this

ATHENS 00001657 002.2 OF 002


month, the PM on November 24 invited his Albanian and Macedonian
counterparts to Prespes National Park where the Greece, Macedonian,
and Albanian borders come together, ostensibly to discuss
environmental issues. Greek press has already accused Papandreou
of making a thinly veiled overture to Gruesvki.





6. (C) TURKEY/AEGEAN: Papandreou took the first step of traveling
to Istanbul for a meeting with PM Erdogan on the margins of an
international conference, and seeks a broad, personal dialogue. A
response to PM Erdogan's letter following up on that meeting is
forthcoming. He believes in Turkish EU accession, but not with a
"blank check," as we have been told by interlocutors. The GOG is
disappointed at the resumption of overflights of inhabited Aegean
islands by Turkish military aircraft, but has not politicized this
issue as compared to past government reactions. Papandreou faces a
tough balancing act at the EU in December, between the strategic
imperative of Turkish EU accession, which he supports, and Turkish
actions which anger the Greek population he must answer to. ASD
Vershbow and Alternate MOD Beglitis discussed informally on
November 16 the idea of a "rules of the road" for all of NATO's
airspace that would be equally applicable to the Aegean. Beglitis
thought the idea was interesting in a NATO context, as Greece does
not trust bilateral Turkish proposals on the Aegean. You can
usefully ask Papandreou his views on how he intends to manage the
Brussels decision in December, and encourage him to stay on the
right path.





7. (C) AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN: The Greek public, and
correspondingly the Greek government, has a difficult time linking
success in Afghanistan with their national security. They have
also paid close attention to our domestic debate as it has unfolded
in Washington, looking carefully for any clues to our future
course. They recently announced that Greece would not expand its
ISAF effort by deploying its previously caveat-bound Kabul
engineering battalion out to RC-West, thus walking back a
commitment made to President Obama by the previous Karamanlis
government. However, they will maintain an engineering presence in
Kabul, will make a 3 million euro contribution to the ANA Trust
Fund, will send two small medical teams to the North, will send
approximately 20 additional trainers, and intend to spend
approximately 6 millions for development assistance. You can help
them see the importance of success in Afghanistan to Greek,
European, and global security; assure them of our continued
commitment and leadership in Afghanistan; and encourage them to do
more, particularly on the Army and Police training fronts.





8. (C) VISA WAIVER AND WASHINGTON VISIT: Greece continues to wait
for Visa Waiver. The remaining step is for Secretary of Homeland
Security Napolitano to sign the designation memo which, for legal
reasons, she is unable to do until the White House provides the
announcement and implementation dates. The Greeks have not pressed
us much on this issue lately, but have dropped continuing hints of
the PM's desire for an early visit to Washington.





9. (U) We are very much looking forward to your visit and hosting
you here in Athens.
Speckhard