88016 12/4/2006 13:43 06BUCHAREST1808 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 06BELGRADE900 VZCZCXRO5432 PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHBM #1808/01 3381343 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 041343Z DEC 06 ZDK FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5663 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0739 RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0096 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 BUCHAREST 001808
USDOC FOR 4232/ITA/MAC/EUR/OEERIS/SSAVICH BRUSSELS PASS TO STABILITY DEPT FOR EUR/NCE AARON JENSEN
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EAID, ECON, ETRD, EUN, PREL, BK, BU, GR, HR, MD, MI, MW, SR, YI, RO SUBJECT: STABILITY PACT MEETINGS IN BUCHAREST FOCUS ON TRANSITION TO REGIONAL OWNERSHIP
REF: A. BELGRADE 900
B. SECSTATE 177440 NOTAL
1. (SBU) The November 15-16 meetings in Bucharest of the Stability Pact for South East Europe saw continued progress toward shifting the Pact's program of regional cooperation initiatives to the responsibility of regional governments under the umbrella of the South East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP). The transition of a slimmed-down Pact agenda to regional ownership and leadership was supported both by the countries of the region and a number of potential donors, who signaled a willingness to finance the proposed Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), which will assume responsibility for the regional cooperation program beginning in early 2008. Prior to the Bucharest meetings, SEECP governments agreed on a financing mechanism to share up to one million Euros of the anticipated annual 2.5-3.0 million Euro cost of the RCC secretariat, while at the November 16 Regional Table meeting indications of support were given by representatives of the European Commission, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and the U.S. The Pact's three Working Table meetings (on Democracy, Economic Development and Security issues) presented plans to reduce the number of Pact-sponsored initiatives and task forces to ensure that future RCC activities responded to the region,s evolving needs and priorities.
2. (SBU) Topical issues dominating RT discussion included CEFTA amendment/enlargement and inclusion of Kosovo in regional cooperation activities. On CEFTA, donor and some regional government representatives pressed for an inclusive agreement, implicitly pushing Croatia, BiH and Serbia to resolve their remaining bilateral issues so that BiH and Serbia will be able to join the eight parties that initialed the agreement on November 9 in formally signing in Bucharest on December 19. The host Romanian government was not represented at the ministerial level at the November 16-17 meetings, due in part to the fact that the Romanian President and Prime Minister were traveling together with high-level delegations at this time. Looking ahead, the next major milestone in the Stability Pact's transition to regional ownership and leadership will come in late May-early June 2007, when SEECP Prime Ministers meet in Croatia to approve formally the creation of the RCC, decide its location and Secretary General, and receive the endorsement of the Stability Pact's final Regional Table meeting. Final implementation of the transition plan should conclude with the formal establishment of the new RCC structure in early 2008. END SUMMARY.
Regional Ownership Moving Ahead
3. (U) The Stability Pact held its semi-annual Regional Table meeting in Bucharest on November 16, following meetings of its three Working Tables on the preceding day. The Stability Pact, created in June 1999 with the goal of contributing to reconstruction and stabilization of the Balkans, currently oversees 25 regional cooperation initiatives and task forces. At the May 2005 Regional Table meeting in Sofia, Specal Coordinator Erhard Busek launched a discussio on phasing out the Pact while ensuring that prioity regional cooperation activities continued inkey areas, principally in economic development, ustice and home affairs, and reinforcing politicl consensus for reform. The May 2006 meeting inBelgrade endorsed the priorities and timetable, establishing the goal of a transition by February 2008 to creation of a Regional Cooperation Council under the auspices of the Southeast Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) to continue the Pact,s regional cooperation agenda. The key cooperation themes identified by the Pact were economic and social development, infrastructure and energy, justice and home affairs, defense cooperation, building
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human capital, and regional parliamentary cooperation. Pact Secretariat staff have subsequently reviewed all initiatives and task forces internally and with regional government representatives in an effort to set priorities and to generate regional government financial support where required, particularly with regard to such activities as the regional anti-corruption initiative (SPAI) and disaster preparedness and prevention initiative (DPPI), both of which are based in Sarajevo and have received US financial support.
Working Tables: Setting Priorities for the Future
4. (U) Working Table I (Democratization and Human Rights) discussed building human capital (BHC), parliamentary cooperation (PC) and gender issues, with a focus on streamlining and ownership. The BHC discussion stressed that education and research should remain a long-term priority for regional cooperation and recommended that a task force be established within the RCC. WT I welcomed the readiness of the regional education initiative (ERI SEE) to take over the education component of BHC, and stressed the need to strengthen cooperation in research. It also solicited proposals for establishment of a regional secretariat for parliamentary cooperation, to be
SIPDIS in place by mid-2007. Its task would be to coordinate the exchange of information among SEE Parliaments, in particular at the committee level, and possibly also the training of parliamentary staff, working also with counterparts outside the region. The Gender Taskforce, with a small secretariat based in Zagreb and already self-sufficient in terms of management and operations, will maintain a formal relationship with and receive political support from the RCC in order to encourage mainstreaming of gender issues into regional co-operation activities. WT I noted that the local democracy/cross-border cooperation (LODE/CBC) task force would shift from the SP Brussels Secretariat to the SP Thessaloniki office (funded by
SIPDIS Greece) by the end of 2006, though its LODE component will be transferred to Council of Europe leadership under an existing mandate. As previously agreed, the Media TF will close by the end of 2006. WT I recommended that the RCC offer political support to an active role for civil society in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration.
5. (U) Working Table II (Economic Reconstruction and Development) reviewed transition strategies for WT II initiatives, many of which will continue under the framework of the RCC and will need political, technical and financial support from both the SEE parties and international donors. Participants called for the social dimension to be addressed as economic reform proceeds. The meeting reviewed the challenges facing key energy and transport infrastructure initiatives, which will require substantial investment, and underlined the importance of the Infrastructure Steering Group. WTII welcomed the recent publication by the OECD-led Investment Compact for South East Europe of the Regional Investment Reform Index (IRI), highlighting performance across a number of dimensions relevant to the business climate. The role of the proposed SEE Investment Committee in maintaining the IRI and the use of peer reviews to stimulate progress was judged to be an effective way to enhance regional ownership. WT II also noted the Greek proposal for development of the Thessaloniki office into a center for the promotion of regional investment and business activity in the framework of the RCC. Finally, WT II welcomed progress made toward completing an amended and enlarged Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA 2006), though the failure of Serbia and Bosnia to join the other eight parties in initialing the agreement on November 9 was noted. Participants called on all parties to work to ensure that all ten can sign on December 19 in Bucharest.
6. (U) Working Table III (Security Issues) dealt with transition strategies for the initiatives dealing with defense and security cooperation, as well as justice and home affairs cooperation. The discussion centered on
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impediments to the transfer to regional ownership posed by inadequate funding, staffing and political support. The participants cited the need for stronger political support from SEE governments, with the backing of the international community, as well as increased financial contributions from SEE countries for WT III initiatives. WT III also for called stronger support through the secondment of qualified staff to work on these initiatives. Strong interest was expressed in enhanced regional cooperation on security and defense and JHA issues outside the context of the SP. Special Coordinator Busek said that security is a common interest and responsibility, and that cooperation in the areas of security/defense and justice and home affairs would be two of the five priorities of the RCC. Busek urged action on the convention on the SECI Regional Center for Combating Trans-border Crime, and invited SEE governments to exploit the Center's potential as a tool in fighting trans-border organized crime and as an interface for cooperation with European and international law enforcement authorities.
Donor Support for the RCC
7. (U) Donor representatives stressed the importance of regional cooperation and voiced support for the Stability Pact,s transition to regional ownership. Responding to the agreement on RCC co-financing reached by SEECP members in October, Austrian SP national coordinator Sajdik pledged 150,000 euros to support the RCC, subject to approval by the new Austrian government when it is formed. Other statements of support were made by representatives of Switzerland, the European Commission, Germany and the US.
8. (U) Leading the U.S. delegation to the November 16 regional Table meeting, Coordinator for US Assistance to Europe and Eurasia Thomas Adams pledged continuing U.S. commitment to the stability and prosperity of Southeastern Europe. He noted that the U.S. would continue to support the Stability Pact through its final year before transition to regional ownership in early 2008, and signaled US support for the RCC provided it is located in the region. Mr. Adams also called attention to the political challenge posed for the region by the impending decision on Kosovo,s status, and underlined the importance of full support by all countries in the region for the process led by Special Envoy Ahtisaari.
Croatian and Bulgarian SEECP leadership through 2008, Role of EC
9. (U) The SEECP, long a talk shop with little impact, has been challenged by the Stability Pact transition process to play an active role as a focal point for regional cooperation. Croatian Prime Minister Sanader has indicated personal support for a stronger SEECP and named MFA State Secretary Hido Biscevic, who attended the Bucharest
SIPDIS meetings, as coordinator for Croatia,s 2006-7 SEECP chairmanship-in-office. The Croatian government used an informal conference of key regional representatives in early September in Zagreb under the auspices of the SudostEuropa Gesellschaft and German MFA State Secretary Erler, to launch a concerted effort on the Pact,s transition, and later co-chaired meetings with the Stability Pact of SEECP finance ministry representatives to develop a funding key for the SEECP share of the cost of the proposed RCC secretariat. Financial experts agreed on October 27 in Vienna to a formula based on four country groups: Turkey, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria will each pay 14 percent (or $140,000) of the proposed total of up to one million euros, Croatia will pay eight percent (80,000 euros), Albania, BiH, Macedonia, and Serbia six percent (60,000 euros), and Moldova, Montenegro, and
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UNMIK/Kosovo four percent (40,000 euros).
10. (SBU) SEECP governments face difficult decisions on the location of the RCC secretariat. Sarajevo and Belgrade have been proposed, though neither has yet won strong support. SP planners are pushing for an early decision on location of the secretariat to facilitate RCC budget decisions and legal arrangements. The SEECP will also have to decide on the RCC leadership, looking for an influential regional political figure to push the regional cooperation agenda at the highest circles of regional governments. This will be no easy task. The names as former foreign ministers Simon Passy of Bulgaria and Goran Svilanovic of Serbia (and present WT I Chair) have been mooted thus far, though Passy has apparently declined to pursue the position.
11. (SBU) A second major issue is the extent to which the European Commission will play a leadership role as the SP transition proceeds. (Note: Currently, the EC funds the Stability Pact Secretariat in Brussels at the level of 2 million euros annually; SP leadership hopes the EC will maintain perhaps two-thirds of that level for the RCC.) Busek will meet with Enlargement Commissioner Rehn later this month and with DG Michael Leigh in early December to press for a substantial EC commitment to the RCC. Busek hopes that EU member states will also make commitments to provide significant support to the RCC in the weeks ahead.
Comment: Signs of progress, but no time for complacency
12. (SBU) The Stability Pact transition is advancing slowly but surely. The financial down payment by the SEECP for the proposed RCC secretariat is a clear indication of a more serious approach by regional governments and agreement on a location -- most likely Sarajevo -- is likely to come in due time. The regional cooperation agenda includes a number of successes which are important to the region,s development. These include: the Energy Community Treaty, in force since July; the prospect of completing the expanded CEFTA 2006, building on the existing network of 32 bilateral free trade agreements; progress on a regional approach to investment and infrastructure; possible integration into the European Common Aviation Area; and strengthening of the SECI Regional Center for Combating Trans-border Crime in Bucharest. These varied initiatives, taken together, are beginning to send a political signal to the outside world, including to investors, that the region has moved into the 21st century and has broken definitively with the strife and discord of the previous decade.
13. (SBU) But there are a number of remaining concerns. Deciding on a political figure to head the RCC could be a daunting task. Horse-trading will probably continue until the last minutes before a decision is taken at the SEECP summit in spring 2007. More fundamentally, tensions between countries in the region -- reflected, for example, in the problems which have arisen between Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia in the CEFTA 2006 endgame -- continue to hinder regional cooperation. While settling Kosovo,s status will contribute to the long-term stability of Southeastern Europe, in the short run the status decision may complicate efforts to foster cooperation between some of the parties in the region. However, increasing cooperation between EU aspirants in the western Balkans, on one hand, and neighboring EU member states, on the other, is potentially an important stabilizing factor. In this regard, Bulgaria,s enthusiastic interest in managing the final stage of the Stability Pact,s transition during its year-long SEECP Chairmanship, which begins in June 2007, is an encouraging development. Lastly, the upcoming EU Presidencies of Germany and Slovenia (first semester 2007 and 2008, respectively), promise steady pressure from that quarter (on the region and on the European Commission itself) to support establishment of the RCC, and should help maintain a strong EU focus on stability in Southeastern Europe. End Comment.
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