72920 7/28/2006 11:18 06BUCHAREST1203 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL 06BUCHAREST1203 VZCZCXRO3751 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #1203/01 2091118 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 281118Z JUL 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4885 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001203
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH STATE DEPT FOR EUR/SCE - STEPHEN GEE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/28/2016 TAGS: PREL, SR, RO SUBJECT: PRESIDENT BASESCU ADVOCATES SERB LINE ON KOSOVO AFTER TALKS WITH PRESIDENT TADIC
Classified By: CDA Rodger Garner for Reasons 1.4 B and D
1. (C) Summary: Romanian President Basescu promised to advocate for Serbian President Tadic with the leaders of the Contact Group, beginning in Washington, according to the MFA. Following July 25 bilateral talks in Bucharest, Basescu and Tadic had no discernable difference on Kosovo Final Status Talks, per Romanian MFA officials who provided a readout of the Tadic visit to Contact Group embassies. The MFA reported that Basescu advocates a negotiated settlement ending in autonomy for Kosovo, not an imposed solution of independence, to avoid setting a precedent for other frozen conflicts and harming overall stability. Basescu's public statements appeared to contradict his earlier private commitments to U.S. and U.K. diplomats to help Serbia face up to the reality of finalizing Kosovo's status this year. End summary.
2. (C) President Traian Basescu hosted Serbian President Boris Tadic in Bucharest on July 25 for a one-day visit. The following day, just prior to leaving Bucharest for an official visit to Washingtion, Basescu commented to the press regarding his meeting with President Bush, "Another item on the agenda is related to the Western Balkans, where, you probably already know, Romania has a slightly different position than the one adopted by the Contact Group of the U.S., Great Britain, France, and Russia, regarding the solution for Kosovo. We plead for the acknowledgment of the state borders and for finding solutions of autonomy inside the borders of the Serbian state."
3. (C) MFA's Director General for Eastern Europe Razvan Rusu and Director for the Western Balkans Irina Zidaru offered a readout of the Tadic visit to embassies representing Contact Group member states on July 27. Representatives of Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and the U.S. were present. Rusu claimed that "Romania's position on Kosovo was unchanged" -- that there "should not be an imposed solution, as that would harm overall stability," that the final status should respect the "principles of international law -- specifically meaning in this case the inviolability of borders in the region," and that minority rights should be protected. Rusu said President Basescu "intends to convey the rightness of this view" to each leader of the Contact Group, starting the same day in Washington during his meeting with President Bush.
4. (C) Rusu said Basescu is concerned, due to the relevance of Serbia to the region, that Kosovo should be settled only by direct dialogue and a middle ground should be found on Kosovos' autonomy. Rusu said, in front of the Russian Embassy's Minister Counselor Vladimir Lapshin, that a solution to Kosovo's final status "should avoid any possible precedent by derailing from the principles of international law." Rusu then relayed President Basescu's private comments to President Tadic, stressing full compliance with ICTY and delivering General Mladic in order to improve relations with the EU, NATO, and attract foreign investors.
5. (C) According to Rusu, Tadic told Basescu that 2006 is a difficult year for Serbia that brings challenges and profound changes. Tadic said he appreciated Romania's position on a Kosovo compromise and said that Serbia does not want to take over leadership in Kosovo, but will defend the rights of the minorities and defend Serbia's borders. Tadic commented to Basescu that Serbia is a democratic state whose goodwill was demonstrated by granting Montenegro independence. He argued that Serbia is open to making a deal on Kosovo and favors a great degree of autonomy, but would not accept a Kosovo Army or separation. Tadic said he was happy to continue talking through divergent views and was pleased Basescu was willing to advocate this position with the Contact Group. In response to a U.K. diplomat's question, Rusu said there was no distinguishable difference between Basescu's and Tadic's positions on Kosovo.
6. (C) On bilateral issues, Basescu stressed the need for action to ensure the rights of the Romanian minority in Serbia, to reciprocally recognize the Romanian Orthodox Church, to support the opening of a General Consulate in Zajecar, and to improve the visa regime between the two countries. Tadic granted those as justifiable requests, per Rusu, and supported opening the consulate and said the Romanian Orthodox Church should have the same rights as the Serbian Orthodox Church has in Romania. Tadic stressed the need to work on economic projects such as ensuring Serbian access to the port of Constanta through the Danube, constructing the Constanta-Trieste oil pipeline, and constructing European Corridor 7 along the Danube as Serbia's main route of access. Basescu answered that Corridor 7 could
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not be put into practice until Serbia has a clear relationship with the EU -- and that via complying with ICTY.
7. (C) Rusu and Zidaru offered a separate follow-on conversation to the U.K. and U.S. diplomats. Both Poloff and the U.K. diplomat expressed disappointment in the divergence of Basescu's public positions from prior commitments and asked whether his private messages differed from his public comments, which only appeared to reinforce Russian linkage of Kosovo to Transnistria and other frozen conflicts and did not help Tadic face up to the reality of dealing with Kosovo this year. Zidaru answered, "Do not expect our public position to change too radically overnight." She said Basescu appealed to the Serbs to be more open and forcefully told Tadic to "deliver something on ICTY" and the "gates will open for you." Basescu insisted on Mladic being delivered and linked ICTY to EU membership. Zidaru, who accompanied Basescu on his trip to Belgrade in June - the first visit of a head of state to Serbia post Montenegro - said she was highly confident Basescu delivered at that time the message President Tadic needed to hear. She said Basescu then heard about Kosovo from the Serbian side. Neither she nor Rusu could comment as to whether Basescu might be playing a game with Tadic by advocating for him on Kosovo to eventually bring him around to a conclusion of independence for Kosovo as the only possible final status.
8. (C) During Tadic's visit, Rusu talked at length with Serbian Senior Presidential Advisor Vak Jeremic, who basically admitted that Serbia "clearly won't be able to deliver Mladic" and that Tadic plans to wait till elections, which he intends for this fall, before delivering anything. According to Rusu, the 45 days it takes to arrange elections would buy Tadic more time from the international community on Kosovo.
9. (U) Amembassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are available on the SIPRNet website: www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest GARNER