O 170345Z SEP 08
FM USDEL SECRETARY//NORTH AFRICA//
TO RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARTO 091702
(Note: the unique message record number (MRN) has been modified. The original MRN was
08PARTO 000002, which duplicates a previous PARTO telegram number.)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2018
SUBJECT: SECRETARY'S MEETING WITH PM SOCRATES
1. (U) Classified by Paul Wohlers, Deputy Executive
Secretary, S/ES, Department of State. Reason 1.4 (d)
2. (U) September 4, 2008, 1930, Lisbon, Portugal.
3. (U) Participants:
Ambassador Thomas Stephenson
Assistant Secretary Dan Fried
Assistant Secretary C. David Welch
LTG William Fraser
David Ballard (Embassy Notetaker)
Prime Minister Jose Socrates
Foreign Minister Luis Amado
PM's Chief of Staff Pedro Lourtie
MFA Political Director Nuno Brito
PM's Diplomatic Advisor Jorge Roza Oliveira
Jose Frederico Ludovice (PM Notetaker)
4. (C/NF) SUMMARY: In a 45 minute meeting, Portuguese
Prime Minister Jose Socrates and the Secretary discussed
Russia and Georgia, Kosovo, and Transatlantic relations.
On Russia, Socrates evinced great concern about the
implications of Russia's attack on Georgia, but made clear
that Portugal would stand under the EU umbrella in
addressing this issue. He expressed confidence in
Sarkozy's handling of the crisis. He reiterated
the GOP's determination to recognize Kosovo, but said that
Portugal had delayed recognition in order to "show that we
recognize with reluctance," due mainly to concerns about
international law. On Transatlantic relations, Socrates
made clear that Portugal considers a united
European-American position, rooted in shared values, the
key to handling emerging challenges like Russia and China.
Russia: Trust Sarkozy
5. (C/NF) The Secretary began her meeting with Portuguese
Prime Minister Socrates with a discussion of Russia
and Georgia, saying that recent events required NATO and
Europe to draw conclusions and, most important, respond
with firmness. Socrates agreed and said that it is also
important for the EU to keep frightened members (in Central
and Eastern Europe) confident and to allay their concerns
about Russian aggression. He added that the position of the
EU is to be firm but to keep engaging with Russia. Sarkozy is
the right person to handle this issue right now
because he is free of the baggage of his predecessors, is
energetic and proactive, and is the representative of a
nation Russia has more confidence in than others. (Socrates
repeated the mantra of trust in Sarkozy to do the right
thing several times during the conversation.) Sarkozy,
moreover, is capable of taking risks, a valuable trait in
these circumstances. We and the European Council support
him. The early opinion that Georgia had rashly provoked
Russia has faded because of Russia's failure to implement
the 6-point ceasefire, its recognition of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia, and its overall difficult stance. It is
important at this point to be firm and give confidence to
our member states.
6. (C/NF) The Secretary clarified that the United States
had made a deliberate decision not to take the lead and not
to turn the current situation into a U.S.-Russia conflict.
We support Sarkozy's efforts and believe he is doing a good
job, on balance. We need to maintain pressure on Russia to
respect the agreement they have signed or face
consequences. The agreement has clear requirements and
they are in violation of them. It will be difficult for
Sarkozy to go to Moscow and be firm in holding the Russians
to what they have promised. But he must do so. The
Russians must feel that what they have done has costs.
They overplayed their hand and, in recognizing Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, have made a mistake.
Businesspeople and a new generation of Russians with ties
to the West are upset. If we are firm and continue to say
that Russia is not living up to its obligations, we may be
able to force a change in behavior. Europe cannot show
weakness. It is time to stop them now?not (yet) through
sanctions, but through firmness in reaction to Russia's
7. (C/NF) Socrates agreed and noted that Russia had made a
"serious mistake" in recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia
as independent states. This alarmed many European states,
which at the Bucharest NATO summit were still more sanguine
about dealing with Russia; recognition is a "serious step
without return." He asserted that he appreciated the US
position and believed that the United States was doing a good
job handling the crisis and making useful statements, but that
Europe, too, has a responsibility and must support
Sarkozy's efforts, even though the situation is risky. In
the end, Russia must realize that it is not in its
interests to "have this attitude with Europe and the United
States and that it was a mistake to increase tension."
8. (C/NF) The Secretary noted that Russia has generated
other reactions, including failure to win support for its
recognition of Georgia's provinces at the recent meeting of
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China's concern (based
somewhat on worries about Taiwan), and unrest in other regions
of the Caucasus. The United States did not intend any radical
response, such as expelling Russia from the G-8, but
stressed the importance of being firm. She inquired how
Sarkozy would report on his trip to Moscow. Socrates said
that he would do so at the Council meeting in October and
noted that Sarkozy is confident he can manage this, but if
he returns from Moscow "with empty hands, it will be
difficult." The "spirit in Europe" he continued, is one of
dismay. Europe has sought constructive ties with Russia,
but every six months "it's something else that's a problem:
Polish meat, the U.S. missile shield, Kosovo. They seem so
eager to 'recover pride' that they won't move in
negotiations." We recognize that they have a domestic
interest in "recovering pride" and we must do our best to
negotiate with them, but we must insist that they respect
their word on the ceasefire agreement.
9. (C/NF) The Secretary asserted that she hoped that the
message would be clear that if Russia did not live up to
its obligations there would be an effect. Many Russians
want to be part of the world, and they are uncomfortable
with those who seek "revenge" for the loss of the Cold
War. The initial phase of the war in Georgia might have
stirred pride in Russians, but now many are concerned.
When Russia pursues recognition for South Ossetia and
Abkhazia and the only thing they get is those two
recognizing each other, along with Hamas and Nicaragua,
it's an embarrassment. We can make this very costly to
Russia. Socrates agreed and said that a positive point was
that the Russia of today is very different from the Russia
of 20 years ago. 20 million Russians travel abroad every
year, western interests are important to them, and that
will cause pressure. What Russia has done is "very stupid;
they cannot think we are in their hands. If Sarkozy comes
back with nothing, Europe has to answer with firmness."
Kosovo: "Recognition with Reluctance"
10. (C/NF) The Secretary queried Socrates on the status of
Portugal's stated intention to recognize Kosovo, noting
that what has happened in Georgia affects other "frozen
conflicts" and that international recognition of Kosovo
helps resolve them.
11. (C/NF) In response, Socrates took the unprecedented
tack of combining all of the reasons/pretexts previously
aired for Portugal's delay in recognition (international
law, President Cavaco Silva's hesitancy, need to build
domestic consensus between the two leading political
parties, concern about offending those who might be
offended by recognition) into a simple formula. He said
"We want to recognize, but I must be honest. We have not
yet because we want to show that we recognized with
reluctance. So we took time." He went on to elaborate
that there had been a plan to recognize before UNGA, when
President Cavaco Silva would go to the UN, but that, for
unspecified reasons, "we don't know if we can do it now."
It is a question of "weeks," Socrates asserted several
times, noting that the attitude of Russia "helps us now,"
but if it's not before UNGA it "might be after." He
slipped once in stating that the plan had been to recognize
before UNGA but that the President had played a role in
changing the plan.
12. (C/NF) The Secretary responded that Portugal should
recognize Kosovo as soon as it could.
Transatlantic Alliance: Are we strong enough?
13. (C/NF) Socrates followed up on the discussion of Kosovo
to note that the importance of the Transatlantic Alliance
to Portugal could not be overstated. Echoing comments we
have often heard from Foreign Minister Luis Amado (who was
present), he said, "It is clear that the alliance between
the United States and Europe is the most important thing to
make our common values more influential. We face challenges
like Russia and China, and they will become more difficult.
But I don't know if we are strong enough."
14. (C/NF) The Secretary responded by stating her
satisfaction with the state of the Alliance and
underscoring its importance to the U.S. in resolving
problems we face together.
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