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09BERLIN245 2009-02-27 14:03:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
Cable title:  

EUR PDAS RIES'S FEBRUARY 24-25 VISIT TO BERLIN

Tags:   ECON MARR MNUC MOPS NATO PGOV PHSA PREL PTER 
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ZNY CCCCC ZZH
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FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3424
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0729
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 BERLIN 000245 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/25/2019
TAGS: ECON MARR MNUC MOPS NATO PGOV PHSA PREL PTER
GM, AF, RU, AS, BK, KV, HR, IR
SUBJECT: EUR PDAS RIES'S FEBRUARY 24-25 VISIT TO BERLIN

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES JOHN KOENIG. REASONS: 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY. During EUR PDAS Ries's February 24-25 visit
to Berlin, senior German officials warmly welcomed the
commitment of the new U.S. Administration to partnership and
consultation, and foresaw no major divergence between the
U.S. and Germany on the key issues to be addressed at the
March 5 NATO foreign ministerial or the April 3-4 NATO
Summit. MFA continued to push for a group of "eminent
persons" to take the lead in preparing NATO's new strategic
concept. Both MFA and Chancellery expressed doubts about the
feasibility -- or necessity -- of an ISAF troop contributors
meeting at the level of heads of state and government in
conjunction with the NATO Summit, believing a meeting of
foreign and/or defense ministers to be sufficient. The
Chancellery welcomed the new Administration's embrace of a
whole-of-government approach in Afghanistan as being
completely in line with their own concept of "networked
security," while the MOD expressed appreciation for SecDef's
understanding of the German position on Afghanistan and for
not being "pushy" at Krakow. On Russia, both the MFA and
Chancellery praised U/S Burns's recent visit to Moscow and
stressed the need to work with Russia in NATO and other fora.
Other issues addressed during PDAS Ries's visit included
Iran, the Balkans, counterpiracy, and the stationing of U.S.
troops and nuclear weapons in Europe. END SUMMARY.

INTERLOCUTORS



2. (C) During a February 24-25 visit to Berlin, Principal
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian
Affairs Marcie Ries had separate meetings with MFA Political
Director Volker Stanzel, Chancellery Director of Security
Affairs Geza von Geyr, MOD Assistant Chief of Staff for
Political Military Affairs Major General Manfred Lange and
Bundestag Deputy Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
Hans-Ulrich Klose. PDAS Ries also met over lunch with the
directors of several prominent German research institutes,
including Constanze Stelzenmueller of the German Marshall
Fund and Thomas Paulsen of the Koerber Foundation.

MESSAGE FROM WASHINGTON



3. (C) In all her meetings, PDAS Ries stressed the new
Administration's commitment to partnership and consultation,
and welcomed German input for the ongoing foreign policy
reviews in Washington. On Afghanistan, she said the new
Administration understood that success could not be achieved
through military means alone, and that a comprehensive
approach involving economic development, governance and
regional partners would be necessary. She noted that
Secretary Clinton looked forward to giving other NATO foreign
ministers an idea of "where the strategic review is going" at
the March 5 informal NATO foreign ministerial and at the
Transatlantic Dinner the night before.



4. (C) On Russia, Ries reiterated that while the U.S. was
looking forward to a new start on relations with Russia,
there were certain red lines, as Vice President Biden had
outlined recently in Munich: no spheres of influence, no
recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and all countries
should be free to choose their own alliances. She noted that
Iran, energy security and climate change would also be high
on the new Administration's foreign policy agenda. While
recognizing that the upcoming NATO Summit was intended to
celebrate the Alliance's 60-year anniversary, Ries emphasized
the need for a "forward-looking" agenda that included
Afghanistan, NATO-Russia relations, the launch of work on a
new strategic concept and the admission of Croatia and
Albania as new members. She said that the draft Declaration
on Alliance Security, which is intended to launch work on a
new strategic concept, had all the right elements, but that
it needed to be pitched at a higher level and made more
compelling to the general public.

POSITIVE RESPONSE TO NEW ADMINISTRATION THINKING



5. (C) At the Chancellery, von Geyr said that Ries's broad
outlines of new U.S. Administration thinking "very much"
matched the German government's own views. He said that
unlike the lead-up to last year's NATO Bucharest Summit, when
there was a looming clash over MAP for Georgia and Ukraine,

BERLIN 00000245 002 OF 005


he did not see any areas "where we have contradictions" in
advance of the April NATO Summit. He thought this provided a
good basis for launch of work on the new NATO strategic
concept at the Summit. He said Germany was "very
unsatisfied" with the state of NATO-EU relations and hoped
that the U.S. would "push" Turkey to become more flexible in
resolving the dispute.



6. (C) Von Geyr also emphasized that Merkel was "doing a lot"
behind the scenes to strengthen NATO. He said her decision
to co-host the April Summit was expression of her commitment
to the transatlantic relationship. He noted that the
Chancellor has publicly advocated, and feels strongly, that
NATO should be the forum of discussion of all key
transatlantic security questions.



7. (C) MFA Political Director Volker Stanzel also welcomed
the new Administration's "re-think" of U.S. foreign policy as
well as the short time-line for its completion. Given the
upcoming NATO Summit, he stressed that it was important to
"get our strategic act together" as soon as possible.

DECLARATION ON ALLIANCE SECURITY/NEW STRATEGIC CONCEPT



8. (C) In response to Ries's comment on the draft Declaration
on Alliance Security, Stanzel said he was "not unhappy with
the substance." He was especially pleased that the draft was
modest and not the "mini strategic concept" that the NATO
Secretary General had in mind originally. That would have
prejudiced future work on the new strategic concept. Stanzel
hoped work on the declaration would be completed by the time
of the March 5 informal NATO foreign ministerial.



9. (C) Looking ahead, Stanzel argued in favor of having a
group of "eminent persons" prepare a document that sets the
"political direction" for the new strategic concept, akin to
the 1967 Harmel Report. Once there was political agreement
among the Allies on the broad outlines, it could then be
given to the technical experts "to work out the details."
Stanzel made clear that the MFA wanted input from the eminent
persons before any "at-26" drafting. He expressed concern
that if left solely to the "technical experts," the result
would be "a big body of text" that was not accessible to the
general public. (Note: Chancellery National Security Advisor
Christoph Heusgen offered a competing view in a February 25
discussion with the Charge, suggesting that the eminent
persons should draft the strategic concept outright. End
Note.)

PROPOSED SUMMIT MEETING OF ISAF TROOP CONTRIBUTORS



10. (C) Stanzel voiced concern about the proposed ISAF troop
contributors meeting at the level of heads of state and
government, as pushed by Australia at Krakow. While the
meeting had to wait until after the conclusion of the U.S.
Afghanistan policy review, it needed to be held far enough in
advance of the NATO Summit that its conclusions could be
taken into account by NATO leaders. Stanzel indicated that
from the German perspective, an ISAF contributors' meeting at
the level of foreign ministers and/or defense ministers would
"do the job," but he recognized that this did not meet
Australia's demand.



11. (C) Von Geyr at the Chancellery was even more emphatic in
making the case against an ISAF troop contributors meeting at
the level of heads of state and government. He saw no
possibility of holding it between the April 2 G-20 meeting
and the April 3-4 NATO Summit. He argued that largely
because of logistical considerations, it was "not feasible"
to hold such a meeting in Strasbourg or Baden-Baden. The two
cities were already tapped out because of the NATO Summit and
could not accommodate 10-15 additional delegations from
non-NATO ISAF troop contributing nations.



12. (C) The alternative venue was Brussels, but von Geyr
wondered whether President Obama would be willing to stop in
Brussels between London and Strasbourg/Baden-Baden for such a
meeting. He emphasized that the NATO Summit was supposed to
be primarily a celebratory event with Allies only, and that
Germany saw no "formal or political obligation" to have a
Summit meeting of ISAF contributors this year, since one was
held just last year in Bucharest. Like Stanzel, von Geyr

BERLIN 00000245 003 OF 005


indicated that Germany could support the French proposal to
hold the ISAF contributors meeting at the level of foreign
and/or defense ministers in Brussels on March 31 or April 1.
He also opined that the Australian defense minister had "gone
too far" at Krakow in threatening to withdraw his country's
troops if there were no summit meeting of ISAF contributors
meeting. (Note: NSA Heusgen told Charge that Merkel planned
to convey her views to PM Rudd on February 26. End Note.)

CROATIAN NATO ACCESSION



13. (C) Stanzel was unaware of the petition drive in Slovenia
to block ratification of Croatia's NATO accession protocol,
and turned to MFA Western Balkans Director Mark Bogdahn for
an evaluation of how serious the situation was. Bogdahn said
he was "hopeful" that the petition drive would fail, but
declined to rule out the possibility. While agreeing it was
important to do everything possible to keep the Slovene-Croat
border dispute from de-railing Croatia's accession to NATO,
Stanzel wondered how much influence Germany and others would
be able to exert, given their lack of success in pressuring
Greece to compromise on the Macedonian name issue.

AFGHANISTAN



14. (C) Von Geyr noted that Ries's emphasis on a
whole-of-government approach to Afghanistan was in complete
accord with Germany's own concept of "networked security."
Along those lines, he thought one of the main summit messages
should be the need for more engagement in all areas, military
as well as civilian. He underscored that Germany had already
agreed to do more on the military side as announced by
Defense Minister Jung in Krakow, with the deployment of 600
additional troops.



15. (C) Von Geyr also confirmed that as soon as French
financing concerns are overcome, the German government is
ready to seek the required parliamentary mandate so that the
Bundeswehr can participate in the forthcoming NATO AWACS
deployment to Afghanistan. He said that the requested German
contribution to the ANA Trust Fund could only come out the
MFA and MOD budgets, since Development Ministry funds could
not be used for these purposes; that could complicate German
efforts to fully meet the request. Von Geyr raised the issue
of how to deal with President Karzai during the interregnum
between the end of his term on May 22 and the August 20
presidential elections. He said he was not clear what the
U.S. position was, and that Germany did not want to take a
contradictory stand.



16. (C) At MOD, MG Lange noted that Jung and SecDef had had a
bilateral meeting on the margins of the Krakow ministerial.
Lange praised SecDef for his understanding of the German
position and for not being "pushy." By contrast, he
expressed displeasure with the attitude of the UK defense
minister, who, according to Lange, said at the ministerial
that he was "proud" of the nine nations fighting in the
south, thereby indirectly disparaging those nations deployed
elsewhere. He pointed out that while most German soldiers --
including the 600 additional ones -- are based in the north,
Germany has radio operators in Kandahar and provides air
transport and reconnaissance support for ISAF throughout the
country.



17. (C) Lange also put down a marker that it was important
not to "amalgamate" the OEF and ISAF missions, but to keep
them separate, since each has its own "character." While
freely admitting that the real distinction between the two is
far less now than before -- since ISAF also conducts combat
operations -- he thought it was important for the sake of
public support in Germany to retain a formal separation.



18. (C) Asked how the international community could do better
in Afghanistan, Deputy Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman
Hans-Ulrich Klose (SPD) argued that the operation to
overthrow the Taliban and stabilize the country should have
been a NATO one from the start. Unfortunately, the German
government had not said at the beginning of ISAF that this
was a "fighting" operation as well as a stabilization one.
As a result, most Germans still had the misperception that
ISAF mostly involved facilitating reconstruction and that
military force was only used to defend aid workers. No one

BERLIN 00000245 004 OF 005


in the German government was willing to acknowledge that this
was really a "war."



19. (C) Klose criticized Defense Minister Jung as being
"overly cautious" about German casualties and said he was
"not the right person" for this job. Klose said that to the
degree that Germans see a connection between Afghanistan and
their own national security, many see it negatively, i.e.,
making Germany more vulnerable to terrorism and other
attacks, rather than less so.

A NEW APPROACH TO NATO?



20. (C) Over lunch, two think-tankers, Paulsen from Koerber
and Stelzenmueller from GMF, argued it was important for the
U.S. to break from what they said was the tendency of the
previous Administration to view NATO as simply a "toolbox" to
be used as it pleased. Stelzenmueller thought the Alliance
was still suffering wounds caused when the U.S. did not work
through NATO in response to the 9/11 attacks, despite the
Alliance's historic invocation of Article 5. She called on
the U.S. to conduct genuine consultation on major security
issues at NATO and not simply to use the Alliance to seek
support for pre-set positions.



21. (C) On NATO enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia, Paulsen
noted that the dispute over MAP had led to a perverse result
at Bucharest, with both countries receiving a promise of
eventual NATO membership instead of MAP. He claimed that
there continued to be great doubts in Germany about the
suitability of either country for NATO membership and that
"no one" in Germany really supported the Bucharest
commitment. Stelzenmueller argued that the effort to push
enlargement to Georgia and Ukraine had caused "blow-back,"
not only in Georgia and Ukraine, but also in NATO members,
which ironically had undermined the whole process.

RUSSIA



22. (C) Both MFA and the Chancellery welcomed the recent trip
to Moscow by Undersecretary Burns and NSC Senior Director
McFaul as a "good gesture" and noted that it had apparently
gone well. Stanzel at the MFA indicated that Germany was
ready to resume formal meetings of the NATO-Russia Council
(NRC) and noted that the Russians had suggested discussing
Georgia and Afghanistan. While asserting that Georgia
"doesn't make sense" as an NRC topic, Stanzel thought
Afghanistan would be a good choice and regretted that there
was still no consensus to move forward on this basis.



23. (C) Von Geyr at the Chancellery did not speak to the
issue of resuming formal NRC meetings, but made the point
that the Russians were important partners on many issues
(Iran, Middle East, North Korea, Balkans, etc.) and the West
had to work with them. At the same time, the West had to
stick to its principles and be firm in voicing concerns, as
Merkel had done with Medvedev regarding unacceptable Russian
behavior in Georgia. He said the key was not letting Russia
divide the Allies. He volunteered that Merkel did not care
for the Medvedev European security proposal at all, and saw
it as a blatant attempt to divide and undermine NATO.

LACK OF EUROPEAN LEADERSHIP



24. (C) Parliamentarian Klose voiced concern about the
"re-nationalization" of economic policy within Europe and
regretted the lack of leadership to counteract the trend
toward beggar-thy-neighbor policies. French President
Sarkozy was "smart," but "too jumpy" to fill the leadership
void, while Chancellor Merkel was "solid," but lacked the
required charisma. Because of Germany's dependence on
exports, the economic crisis would hit the country hard --
already there were estimates that economic growth could
decline by as much a 5% in 2009. As a result, Klose thought
it would be difficult for the Grand Coalition government to
take any difficult foreign policy decisions before the
September 2009 Bundestag elections.

IRAN



25. (C) At MFA, Stanzel said the U.S. offer of direct talks
with Iran was the West's "last remaining trump card" and that

BERLIN 00000245 005 OF 005


as a result, it was important to "play it well." He noted
that key questions remained to be answered, including what
kind of talks, at what level, and when should they start.
Stanzel said it would be also critical to decide whether the
nuclear issue leads off the talks or comes at the end. He
thought leaving the nuclear issue until the end risked
allowing the Iranians to string the West along and avoid
addressing the core questions until they had mastered the
entire fuel cycle.



26. (C) Stanzel did not think that the upcoming presidential
election in Iran would make a big difference regarding Iran's
stand on the nuclear issue, pointing out that Larijani
himself had admitted at a press conference in Munich that
this question would be decided by Iran's supreme religious
leader, not the president. Paulsen from Koerber thought the
U.S. had to be careful in moving forward with direct talks
before the Iranian elections -- otherwise, it could
inadvertently give Ahmadinejad the chance to claim credit and
swing the election in his favor.

BALKANS



27. (C) At MOD, MG Lange said he agreed that EUFOR Althea
needed to remain in Bosnia to support the Office of the High
Representative, but said he was feeling "isolated," with the
French deciding unilaterally to pull out. Lange thought it
was important to refrain from any such decisions before the
next Peace Implementation Council (PIC) meeting in March.



28. (C) Lange also expressed concern about the desire of the
UK and others to draw-down KFOR to 2,000 by 2010. He thought
this was "too fast" in light of the remaining challenges in
Kosovo, particularly the continued existence of parallel
structures in majority Serb areas of the country.

COUNTERPIRACY



29. (C) Lange confirmed that when Standing NATO Maritime
Group (SNMG) I transits Somalian waters in the coming weeks,
participating German ships will have to come under the
command of the EU Atalanta operation in order to conduct
counterpiracy operations. Lange thought a separate
parliamentary mandate to do counterpiracy missions under NATO
would only be possible after the September 2009 parliamentary
elections. Until then, the Bundeswehr would have to
improvise by utilizing its existing EU Atalanta mandate. To
facilitate getting a separate NATO mandate, Lange said it was
critical for SACEUR to start a "normal NATO operational
planning process" for the counterpiracy mission.

STATIONING OF U.S. FORCES AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN EUROPE



30. (C) Lange asked whether the new Administration was
reconsidering the decision to remove two of the four
remaining U.S. Army brigades in Europe, which would bring
USAREUR from its current 42,000 troops down to its
transformation end state of about 30,000. Lange also
wondered whether the U.S. view on the retention of
sub-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe had changed. He
noted two forthcoming reports of the NATO High Level Group
(HLG) and said that the German government would try to "tap
down" any public debate on the issue until the U.S. reaches a
decision. While not expressing a clear preference on the way
ahead, he noted that these weapons had served as "the glue"
between the U.S. and Europe on nuclear deterrence.
Koenig