87827 12/1/2006 16:20 06ATHENS3111 Embassy Athens CONFIDENTIAL 06SECSTATE186217 VZCZCXYZ0000 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHTH #3111/01 3351620 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 011620Z DEC 06 FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7573 INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY 0696 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST PRIORITY 0911 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0735 RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY 0062 RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY 0998 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY 1481 RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY 1160 RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO BRUSSELS BE PRIORITY RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 0089 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0198 RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA PRIORITY 0288 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 003111
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2016 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, YI, GR SUBJECT: GETTING ATHENS ON BOARD WITH KOSOVO STATUS PROCESS
REF: SECSTATE 186217
Classified By: CDA THOMAS COUNTRYMAN. REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: Embassy Athens is pressing the Greek government, now that the Ahtisaari proposal has been delayed, to avoid advocating any further delay. Ambassador and DCM have urged senior officials, once the proposal is presented in late January, to press Belgrade for a more constructive engagement on behalf of the interests of Kosovo Serbs. Greek officials agreed in principle but continued to insist on the need to avoid Serbia's "humiliation." END SUMMARY.
2. C) On November 21, DCM discussed Greece's role in the Kosovo status process with MFA Director General Charalambos Rocanas and MFA D2 Directorate for NATO/WEU Ambassador Panayotis Zografos. The DCM noted Washington,s perception that Greece had not been helpful on the Kosovo status process because of its outspoken advocacy for a slow down. While we understood that Greece has had legitimate concerns about political stability in Serbia, now that UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtissaari had announced a delay in the process, Greece should not argue for further delays. Rather, it should get on board with the desire of most of the members of the Contact Group to move the process forward as quickly as possible.
3. (C) Rocanas expressed agreement but with qualifications. He agreed that there was no longer any need for Greece to attempt to delay the process. Indeed, according to Rocanas, Greece did not want to be perceived as an agent of the Serbs and needed to cultivate good relations with Albanians both in Albania and in Kosovo, who would be Greece's neighbors. At the same time, Rocanas argued that Greece needed to maintain a "moderate" tone. Publicly, the GOG needed to placate uninformed Greeks who wanted to side with their fellow Orthodox Serbs. Moreover, by taking a "moderate" approach, Rocanas argued, Greece could support the pro-Western elements and could be seen as a friend who could tell Serbia what it needed to do. "Overdoing it would turn the Serbs into Nazis." Lastly, Rocanas noted that unlike Secretary Rice's call for what he termed a "dramatic" approach ("throw a frog into boiling water and it will either drown or leap"), FM Dora Bakoyannis preferred a quieter approach that would "let the situation mature."
PM DIP ADVISOR BITSIOS
4. (C) On November 24, the DCM discussed Kosovo with the PM's Deputy Diplomatic Advisor Konstantinos Bitsios. In addition to the points he raised with Rocanas, the DCM also noted the importance of Serbian politicians thinking not only about the next election but also future relations with the Kosovars. Like Rocanas, Bitsios agreed that further delays were unnecessary but also stressed the importance of Greece taking a "moderate" tact with the Serbs. Bitsios said PM Karamanlis, guiding principle on Kosovo was the need to avoid "humiliating" the Serbs since to do so would only invite more trouble.
MFA BALKANS OFFICE DIRECTOR CHRISTIDIS
5. (C) On November 30, Ambassador Ries discussed the issue again with MFA Balkans office director Michael Christidis, a key player in the GoG,s approach to Kosovo. Christidis noted that Ahtisaari,s delay until after the January 21 elections in Serbia was useful. He thought that some Contact Group members were getting &cold feet8 because Moscow -- and Beijing -- were showing more resistance than expected; this would take some time to address. FM Bakoyiannis had &suggested, I repeat, suggested8 to Ahtisaari that he present his proposal after the new Serbian government was established to avoid it becoming an issue in the political process of forming a coalition. Athens understood, however, the need to avoid drawing out the process; &our interest is in regional stability.8 Christidis said that the GoG continued to advise Belgrade to be more realistic in its negotiations but was not getting any good response during the election period. He said that Belgrade would not explicitly accept any solution detaching Kosovo, but a plan could be crafted that would gain Serbia,s &tacit acceptance.8
6. (c) Christidis also described last week,s meeting in Athens between Bakoyiannis and Kosovo PM Ceku. Bakoyiannis advised Ceku that Greece understand full well the expectations of Kosovo Albanians. It was important, she said, that the Kosovo government and political groups show reserve and maturity in coming months, even if the Ahtisaari proposal brought what Kosovars expect &only in phases8 (i.e., explained Christidis, if Kosovo did not immediately have its own United Nations seat, foreign ministry, army, etc.) Ceku told Bakoyannis that he understood fully the need to avoid any unilateral moves.
7. (C) COMMENT: Post will continue to press the GoG to drop the emphasis it laid (during the last several months) on slowing the Kosovo process, while continuing to use their influence with Belgrade to urge serious engagement. Perhaps the main reason we expect to succeed is that on December 31 Greece will finish its two-year term on the UN Security Council. We suspect that a major motivation for seeking delay was so that Athens could avoid a lose-lose situation (choosing to line up with the rest of the EU or with Belgrade) when it came time for an actual public vote in New York. END COMMENT. COUNTRYMAN