78324 9/14/2006 9:01 06BUCHAREST1444 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXRO2725 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #1444/01 2570901 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 140901Z SEP 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5167 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 001444
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2016 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PNAT, MD, EU, RO SUBJECT: DAS KRAMER DISCUSSIONS WITH FM UNGUREANU AND SENIOR ROMANIAN ADVISORS ON TRANSNISTRIA "REFERENDUM"
Classified By: DCM Mark A. Taplin for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: During separate meetings with Foreign Minister Ungureanu and senior advisors in the offices of the President and Prime Minister on September 7 in Bucharest, EUR DAS Kramer provided the Department's perspective on regional issues including the upcoming independence referendum in Transnistria. Kramer urged Romanian authorities to join the international community in forcefully rejecting the legitimacy of the referendum, and underscored the need to put the focus squarely back on Russia's unhelpful role in solving the Transnistria question. Ungureanu readily agreed, noting that he would direct the Foreign Ministry to seek a clear EU position on the referendum at the next GAERC September 15. Ungureanu also said he would raise the idea of a Justice and Home Affairs peacekeeping mission as a way to push the Russians to withdraw their "peacekeeping" forces. Senior advisors in the Prime Minister's office told DAS Kramer that the Romanian side wanted a bilateral agreement with Moldova to underscore joint commitment to a European "vocation" for the two countries, with a focus on concrete projects including transportation corridors, customs, and joint initiatives against organized crime. Presidential counselors largely agreed with DAS Kramer's points regarding the illegality of the Transnistrian referendum, but at least initially counseled a low-key approach, citing the sometimes prickly nature of relations between Romania and Moldova. All of our interlocutors appreciated the opportunity to hear our views from DAS Kramer and to coordinate our approaches. End Summary.
Meeting with Foreign Minister
2. (C) Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu heartily endorsed EUR Deputy Assistant Secretary David Kramer's outline of the U.S. approach to dealing with the Transnistrian conflict, including the need for the international community to be clear that it does not accept the Transnistrian September 18 referendum. DAS Kramer emphasized that the Transnistrian referendum was unlikely to reflect the popular will given the heavy-handed Russian role, the loaded referendum questions, and lack of a genuine democratic process. He said that the USG, OSCE, EU, and Ukraine had issued clear statements that they will not recognize the referendum, and urged the Romanian government to take similar steps. He added that if Russia recognizes the referendum, the international community should stop the "charade" of pretending there was an impartial Russian role in Moldova. Saying that "You speak my language," Ungureanu agreed with Kramer that considerable emphasis ought to be placed on pushing Russia to make a clear choice -- either to make its opposition to the referendum clearly known, or to have its endorsement of the referendum lead to a reconsideration of Russia's role as an mediator on Transnistria.
3. (C) Ungureanu said some European colleagues had called on the EU to issue a statement on the illegality of the Transnistrian referendum during the EU's informal General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on September 1. He said all the new EU states as well as Germany strongly supported Moldova and referred to the referendum as illegal at that meeting. Ungureanu tasked his staff with the need to "get a clear EU position" on the Transnistrian referendum at the next GAERC on September 15. Ungureanu suggested it could be a powerful statement, coming either from European Council Secretary General Javier Solana or the Finnish Presidency of
SIPDIS the EU. He mentioned the Finnish were busy finalizing the EU partnership agreement with Russia and that a strong statement on Transnistria could make the Russians take note. Ungureanu suggested it would be good for the U.S. to push for a strong EU statement condemning the referendum in Brussels and Helsinki as well.
4. (C) Raising the issue of Russian forces stationed in Transnistria, DAS Kramer commented that a much smaller contingent, perhaps a third of the size and consisting of 300-500 police and customs personnel as well as a smaller, rapid-reaction kind of military force, could do the job. Ungureanu said he would raise the idea of a "Justice and Home Affairs peacekeeping mission" at the next GAERC meeting. He agreed that gathering the political commitments for such a force could help answer Russia's unwillingness to withdraw troops from Transnistria by offering an intermediate solution that would not leave a void and allow Russian participation. Kramer noted that structuring command and control of any such OSCE-EU Russia peacekeeping operation would be a delicate matter.
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5. (C) In response to comments made by DAS Kramer in regard to Belgian efforts to solve Transnistria under its OSCE chairmanship, Ungureanu was likewise skeptical of their value. He said he would look to pull aside the Belgian permanent representative to the OSCE in Vienna to discourage the Belgians' planned trip to Tiraspol the following week. Ungureanu said he would also raise issues of Transnistrian human rights violations in the Council of Europe, making sure to press on a "point that aches" for the Russian chair. Ungureanu also wondered whether the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) would consider issuing a statement rejecting any comparisons between Kosovo and other frozen conflicts such as Transnistria.
6. (C) Regarding Ukraine, Ungureanu said he believed FM Tarasyuk was uneasy in his position. He felt he would however "take the challenge" and continue in his position, with the unfortunate result that he would be called upon to "whitewash" abroad the new government's actions. Ungureanu agreed that it was critical to keep Ukraine on track in its actions regarding Transnistria. Ungureanu was skeptical regarding Transnistria Supreme Soviet chairman Shevchuk, whom he believed could be tied to former Ukrainian national security and defense council head Poroshenko. Regarding the changes within Ukraine, Ungureanu concluded that he "wasn't a false prophet in Sofia" when he was wary of Ukraine's readiness to join NATO.
Engaging the Two Palaces
7. (C) PM Chief of Staff Mihnea Constantinescu underscored Romania's continued interest in developments in Moldova, noting that Romania wanted a basic bilateral agreement to underscore the countries' commitment to European values and identity, and to a common European space. (Note: referring obliquely to President Basescu's recent statements on unifying with Moldova, he added that he wanted to "dispel the myth" that the objective was to seek Moldovan acknowledgement of a common "Romanian" space.) He acknowledged that these talks were complicated by matters of choreography, language, form, and titles. While an empty "Soviet-style" friendship treaty made no sense, the Romanian objective was to clearly enunciate a common European vocation for Moldova and to focus on concrete matters including transportation corridors to be financed by the EU, customs, and joint initiatives to combat organized crime. He said other Romanian initiatives currently underway were consistent with this approach, including moves to include Moldova as part of the Southeast European Cooperation process and in a Central European FTA (with Romania, Croatia, and Bulgaria.). Foreign Policy counselor Calin Fabian said that the Moldovan preference was for concrete, pragmatic issues including improvements in transportation, gas, and petroleum infrastructure. For example, they were interested in modifying their rail network to meet EU standards. While the political picture in Moldova complicated the way ahead, Fabian stressed, growing economic relations and bilateral trade could provide a useful lever.
8. (C) Constantinescu said that he "totally agreed" with the approach Kramer outlined to confronting the validity of the Transnistrian referendum. The issue would be a litmus test of the weight of the United States and the EU in Moldova, he went on, and might result in convincing Chisinau that relying on the support of the West could bring better results than a policy of just "being stubborn" or by seeking favors from Moscow. Constantinescu said he was pleased that longtime Romanian warnings about the significance of Transnistria as a "black hole" of criminality and lawlessness were being heeded, but also added that the weakness of the Romanian position was that it was seen by many in terms of black-and-white stereotypes. He said that the Romanian interest now was to be as persuasive as possible within the European Union, noting that that it could be a good platform for EU cooperation with the United States.
9. (C) DAS Kramer also met with the Romanian President's Political Advisor Claudiu Saftoiu, Foreign Affairs Advisor Anca Ilinoiu, and Deputy National Security Counselor Constantin Degeratu. Ilinoiu said Moldova remained a priority of President Basescu's foreign policy agenda, and expressed appreciation for DAS Kramer's trip. She bemoaned the fact that the international community appeared to be reacting to events in Transnistria rather than taking a proactive approach to frozen conflicts in general. While confirming that Romania would not recognize the referendum, she urged DAS Kramer to "minimize" the significance of the event itself. She also cited the need to link events in Transnistria with the lack of democratic institutions in
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Chisinau. General Degeratu said that while Transnistria was not a military threat, one nevertheless needed to remember that there was a Soviet-style army there, with structures staffed by senior officials on the Russian payroll. (note: Degeratu likened the Russian presence in Transnistria to that of the Republika Serpska officials on Milosevic's payroll in the former Yugoslavia.) Saftoiu echoed Ilinoiu's call for "minimizing" the importance of the referendum, citing Voronin's unpredictable behavior and the history of difficult bilateral relations between Romania and Moldova. He concluded, however, that "you can count on our commitment" on this issue. As he did in other meetings, Kramer pushed strongly for Romania to take a firm, unambiguous position on the referendum. He also gently chided Saftoiu and Ilinoiu on President Basescu,s recent "unhelpful" comments on unification with Moldova.
10. (C) Comment: The presidential counselors, especially Ilinoiu, appeared eager to be heard on the subject of Transnistria, but their points at first were not entirely in synch with the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister's office. Saftoiu subsequently told Polcouns that he had wanted to express Romanian concern about putting too much pressure on a prickly Russia, but that Romania would nevertheless stand beside the U.S. position. National Security Advisor Medar told us privately on the margins of the V-10 defense officials conference the next day that he would announce in Chisinau over the weekend that Romania would not/not recognize the legitimacy of the Transnistrian referendum. End comment. Taubman