127790 10/30/2007 11:58 07ATHENS2132 Embassy Athens CONFIDENTIAL 06SECSTATE162288|07ATHENS342|07SECSTATE132171|07SECSTATE91451 VZCZCXRO2881 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHTH #2132/01 3031158 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 301158Z OCT 07 FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0613 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU PRIORITY 0151 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST PRIORITY 0960 RUEHCH/AMEMBASSY CHISINAU PRIORITY 0228 RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0025 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0910 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY 1567 RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 0393 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 002132
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2017 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PARM, PBTS, PHSA, ECON, EWWT, GR SUBJECT: GREEKS EAGER TO COOPERATE ON BLACK SEA ISSUES
REF: A. 06 SECSTATE 162288 B. SECSTATE 91451 C. SECSTATE 132171 D. ATHENS 342
Classified By: POLCOUNS ROBIN QUINVILLE. REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).
1. (C) SUMMARY: In a readout of the October 25 BSEC FMs' meeting, MFA participant Ambassador Metaxas said it had been a "very tough meeting," which ultimately proved a success. Greece had opposed the proposed admittance of Iran, Japan, and Cyprus as BSEC observers because of the second-class status Cyprus was likely to receive from Turkey. Greece faced opposition from Turkey and Russia on its proposed donation of 2 million euro to the BSEC Special Development fund because of the way the fund would be administered and its partial focus on good governance. Greece also hoped to change the focus of the BSEC budget from maintenance of the secretariat to project funding. Greece welcomed the U.S.
SIPDIS proposal (ref c) for further cooperation on Black Sea issues. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) On October 29, DepPolCouns and DepEconCouns delivered ref c demarche on the U.S. desire to strengthen cooperation on Black Sea issues to MFA B2 Directorate for Bilateral Economic Relations Ambassador Ioannis Metaxas and B2 First Secretary Eftychia Bacopoulou. They, in turn, took the
SIPDIS opportunity to provide a readout of the October 25 Istanbul FMs conference of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization.
3. (C) Metaxas prefaced his readout with praise for Turkey's current chairmanship of BSEC, which he said had resulted in a number of new meeting initiatives, as well as inauguration of a new phase of BSEC cooperation with the EU and the U.S. He noted among those meetings a recent conference in Greece of ministers of culture to discuss coordinating economic and cultural issues, an ad hoc meeting in Turkey on customs cooperation, and another meeting in Greece on reforming the BSEC budget process (which Metaxas described as "antiquated") He said Greece -- the country-coordinator on budget reform -- wanted to move BSEC from a budget focused on funding the secretariat to one focused on project funding. In
SIPDIS particular, he noted that it was a Greek success to obtain ODA status with a 78 percent coefficient for donations to BSEC. (Comment: as the GOG is BSEC's largest contributor at 1.3 million euro per year, this will presumably help the GOG meet EU-standard bilateral assistance goals).
4. (C) Metaxas termed the Istanbul FMs' session a "very tough meeting," which dealt with controversial issues but ultimately proved a success. One contentious issue was the proposed admittance of Iran, Japan, and Cyprus as new observer countries to BSEC. The U.S. status as an observer was renewed, but none of the new applicants was admitted due to Greek opposition. Metaxas explained that Greece belQpecial Development fund, the first such single-country donation. The Russians and Turks were the leading opponents, though Metaxas was vague on the reasons for their opposition. The Turks did not like the "way the (proposed) fund would be administered," while the Russians had given some reason that they were now "reconsidering." Metaxas hinted, however, that Russian opposition might stem from sensitivity about the nature of the projects on which Greece proposed to earmark the funds. These included such presumably innocuous proposals as transportation, the environment, renewable energy, and cultural tourism, but also the politically more contentious proposal on good governance. Greek FM Bakoyannis expressed disappointment at the opposition, and Greece had for now withdrawn its donation offer. Metaxas told us, however, that Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian BSEC representatives had subsequently contacted him to express support for re-introducing the proposal for a development fund in the
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U.S. COOPERATION PROPOSAL
6. (C) Given the contentious atmosphere that characterized the Istanbul meeting, Metaxas said he found the U.S. demarche on cooperation refreshing. He welcomed its avoidance of hot-button political and military issues and said it seemed to provide a good basis for future cooperation. Greece would study the demarche carefully and provide us with a considered response as soon as possible.
7. (C) COMMENT: Metaxas shied away from full explanations of contentious issues, particularly the motivations of Greece's opponents. Nevertheless, it is clear that Greece welcomes U.S. participation in BSEC, both as a counterpoise to the Turks and Russians, and because Greece's conception of the organization and the types of projects it could undertake is, for now, close to that of the U.S. COUNTRYMAN