Wikileaks: Georgia in US-French Discussions

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 001254 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2018 

Classified By: Ambassador Charles Rivkin, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 

1.  (S) Summary.  During Assistant Secretary Gordon's visit 
to Paris on September 11, he met with a number of French 
policy-makers including: Elysee Diplomatic Advisors 
Jean-David Levitte, Damien Loras, and Francois Richier, 
Assistant Secretary equivalent for Continental Europe Roland 
Galharague, and Acting Director of MFA Strategic Affairs 
bureau Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel.  Discussions focused on 
Russia, upcoming developments in the Balkans (Bosnia, 
Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo), elections in Germany and 
Afghanistan, Turkey's EU Accession, NATO Enlargement and 
Strategic Concept, and Georgia and Ukraine.  End Summary. 


2.  (C) Jean-David Levitte noted that while public opinion in 
France is opposed to the war in Afghanistan, the situation 
here is much calmer than in the UK, Germany, or Italy. 
Angela Merkel's domestic political situation after the 
incident in Kunduz was particularly fragile, so that was part 
of the rationale behind the recent German-French-UK letter to 
UN SYG Ban Ki Moon to propose an international conference on 
Afghanistan by the end of the year.  Levitte said that the 
goal of the conference would be to accelerate and improve the 
training of Afghan troops and police and to strengthen Afghan 
state institutions, which will help reinforce the importance 
of the international effort to skeptical publics.  They are 
now waiting for Ban Ki Moon's response.  Levitte emphasized 
that France remains "totally engaged" in Afghanistan with no 
limits or caveats on its troops.  This autumn, France will 
complete a transfer of troops from Kabul to Kapisa and Surobi 
provinces (a presence that will be reinforced on the ground 
as France reassigns some sailors to other regional activities 
and replaces them with ground troops).  A/S Gordon assured 
Levitte that the U.S. would soon be able to share the 
elements of the McChrystal military review with Allies. 
Levitte responded by praising General McChrystal and saying 
that French forces have an excellent dialogue with him on the 
ground.  He added that Germany and the UK are determined to 
stay in Afghanistan as needed, but we may need to convince 
the Netherlands to remain, and that President Sarkozy had 
recently reinforced this message in a meeting with Dutch PM 


3.  (C) Levitte noted that of the five major conditions 
required to transfer authority in Bosnia from the UN High 
Representative to an EU High Representative, four have been 
fulfilled, and only the question of division of state 
property remains.  This final condition should not alone 
"block all progress," especially as the current UN team in 
Bosnia is no longer effective.  France wants to see the 
transfer of authority to a new EU team in November, as the 
rapprochement to Europe is an effective "carrot" to encourage 
the Bosniaks to continue progress in necessary reforms.  A/S 
Gordon agreed that the current system is not working well, 
but noted that the international community will lose 
credibility if we move forward before all the necessary 
pre-conditions have been fulfilled.  He added that the U.S. 
agrees that some form of carrot is necessary to urge Bosnian 
compliance.  Levitte noted that they still have two months to 
urge Bosnian progress before a final decision is made.  In a 
separate meeting, Assistant Secretary equivalent for 
Continental Europe Roland Galharague said that "transition is 
the number one objective," suggested the division of state 
property will take much time to resolve, and urged the U.S. 
to support early transfer of authority that would open the 
door to Bosnian aspirations for greater integration into EU 
institutions.  He noted that the growing perception of 
divisions between the US and Bosniaks on one side who favored 
retaining the UN role and the EU and Serbs on the other 
created unhelpful opportunities for manipulation.  A/S Gordon 
said this perception was inaccurate, but noted the U.S. is 
sensitive to the political need for Bosniak leaders to sell 
this decision to their publics.  The USG needs to see a clear 
path ahead for transition in order to support it. 


4.  (C) Levitte noted that the EULEX mission is having 
diplomatic problems with the Kosovar government and public 

PARIS 00001254  002 OF 004 

after signing two technical protocols with Serbia.  They are 
hoping to ensure continued calm as Kosovo heads into 
municipal elections.  A/S Gordon stated that the Kosovars 
will have to accept the protocols but that it should be 
clearly explained that these are technical agreements that 
have no impact on Kosovo's independent status.  Levitte also 
criticized Serbian FM Jeremic, saying that he is doing 
nothing to encourage Serb return or participation in Kosovo's 
government.  Levitte noted that Jeremic "makes big promises" 
every time he comes to France, but doesn't follow through. 
Levitte no longer meets with him and does not consider him to 
be the "modern face of Belgrade" that he purports to be. 


5.  (C) Levitte expressed optimism that a new Greek 
government would be "more solid" and allow greater 
flexibility for progress in the Greek-Macedonian name 
dispute.  A/S Gordon agreed that either a more solid 
Conservative government or a Socialist government would be a 
stronger, more flexible partner in the negotiations.  He 
expressed hope that if the international community could 
convince Macedonia to abandon the idea of a referendum and 
get Greece to abandon the necessity of changing passports, 
then progress could be made.  On Croatia, Levitte observed 
that the border issue with Slovenia is making progress.  He 
hoped that the upcoming September elections in Germany would 
also allow the new German government to be more open to EU 
enlargement to include the Balkan countries.  Paris wants the 
door to enlargement to remain open, even if the accession 
process takes time. 


6.  (C) Levitte informed A/S Gordon that there had been no 
change in the French position advocating a "privileged 
partnership" between the European Union and Turkey, in lieu 
of EU membership.  However, he emphasized that France was not 
preventing accession negotiations from progressing on all the 
EU chapters that do not pre-suppose membership.  There remain 
plenty of chapters of the acquis to open, so if progress is 
not being made, the fault lies with Turkish intransigence on 
Cyprus.  Unfortunately, Ankara is not completing the required 
necessary reforms and progress has stalled.  Levitte 
anticipated a negative report this fall on Turkey's failure 
to fulfill the Ankara Protocol.  A/S Gordon said that Turkey 
was caught in a vicious cycle and it is not completing 
necessary reforms because the Turks do not believe that their 
EU candidacy will be allowed to progress, and at the same 
time, their negotiations are not progressing because they 
aren't completing the required reforms.  He noted that in the 
latest German Marshall Fund polls in Turkey, fewer that 30% 
of the Turkish public believes they will succeed in getting 
EU membership. 

7.  (C) Levitte agreed, but noted that Paris hopes that it 
will be the Turks themselves who realize that their role is 
best played as a bridge between the two worlds of Europe and 
Asia, rather than anchored in Europe itself.  He stated that 
Turkey is in a difficult position as it wants to enter the EU 
but has refused to accept one of the other EU member states. 
Levitte predicted that a worse case scenario would be if 
Turkey finally manages to complete the acquis and end 
negotiations and a public referendum is held in France which 
is finally opposed to their membership.  Despite all of these 
problems, Levitte claimed that President Sarkozy is a friend 
of Turkey and has visited the country at least 10 times in 
his life. 


8.  (C)  A/S Gordon described the challenges and frustrations 
of the U.S.- Russia relationship, which is based on finding 
areas where we can work together on our common interest.  He 
noted progress at the July summit meeting on such issues as 
START talks and transfer of lethal material through Russia to 
Afghanistan.  Galharague described Russia as a state with the 
trappings of democracy but without any mechanisms for the 
public to influence government decision-making.  "The root of 
the problem is the regime," he said.  Presidential advisor 
Loras added Russian leaders lacked sufficient, long-range 
vision for their country and instead, focused on a six-month 
time horizon and their business interests.  Galharague 

PARIS 00001254  003 OF 004 

described the French strategy as finding a balance between 
treating Russia as if it is too important or treating it like 
an enemy. The French observed that some in Russia have 
concluded their interests are served by keeping the west 
"tied down in an Afghanistan quagmire" and by sustaining the 
status quo in Iran.  He elaborated that a solution that 
thwarts Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions and restores Iran as 
a normal member of the international community could 
undermine Russian regional and energy interests.  Loras noted 
of late the Russians have been unhelpful on Iran.   Moreover, 
they appear to have concluded they can pocket a projected 
U.S. decision to scale back or abandon the Bush 
administration's Missile Defense initiative without paying 
any cost. 

9.  (C) Looking ahead on the energy front, Loras predicted 
that substantial Russian under-investment in energy 
extraction infrastructure was such that Russia would not be 
able to meet European demand in four or five years.  He 
observed this created an opportunity for Russia to have even 
more leverage over a Europe that has not prepared to 
diversify its energy supplies. In response to a question on 
Russia's decision to suspend negotiations on World Trade 
Organization membership in favor of a customs union with 
Kazakhstan and Belarus,  A/S Gordon replied the U.S. would 
continue a policy review on Missile Defense to take the right 
decision based on the merits.   On Russian actions regarding 
the WTO, he said that Moscow's decision was likely supported 
by Russians whose interests were not advanced by opening 
markets.  Galharague observed that failure to advance WTO 
membership for Russia had negative implications for 
EU-Russian trade relations as progress in this EU effort 
pre-supposed progress on Russian accession to the WTO. Loras 
reported the coming year will involve substantial 
Franco-Russian interactions.  This engagement would include a 
visit by French Prime Minister Fillon to Russia in September, 
a visit to France by Putin in November, a state visit to 
France by Medvedev in March, and a Sarkozy visit to Russia in 
2010 on the margins of the St. Petersburg forum.  These 
visits would occur under the auspices of reciprocal "Year of 
France" events in Russia and "Year of Russia" events in 

10.  (C) Levitte and A/S Gordon discussed the "dangerous" 
precedent of ships being intercepted in Georgian waters. 
Sarkozy Advisor Damien Loras noted that President Saakashvili 
has a French advisor who has informed Paris that Georgian 
ships have orders to respond if fired upon.  This can 
escalate and the French message has been to emphasize that 
Georgia must not respond to provocation, as that would only 
play into Russia's hands.  Levitte stressed the importance of 
maintaining the Geneva process, while noting that it may take 
a generation before the Russian public will be able to accept 
their loss of influence, from Poland and the Baltics to 
Ukraine and Georgia.  Unfortunately, the Russian tendency is 
to view "good neighbors" as totally submissive subordinates. 
On the other hand, Paris is closely watching Medvedev, who is 
more frequently taking public stances in opposition to Putin. 
 Medvedev is more open to the occidental powers and more open 
to modernization and rule of law issues that Russia must 
face.  A/S Gordon observed that President Obama had spent a 
good deal of time with Medvedev on his trip to Russia, and 
had specifically targeted Russian youth in his public 
outreach event.  In his meeting with Galharague and others, 
A/S Gordon noted that the U.S. pursues a policy to support 
Georgia in the face of Russian pressure without encouraging 
President Saakashvili to act in ways that are unhelpful. 


11.  (S/NF)  Levitte noted that the Iranian response to the 
overture of President Obama and the West was "a farce," 
although Russia had received it as a real initiative.  The 
current Iranian regime is effectively a fascist state and the 
time has come to decide on next steps.  Levitte stated that 
this is why Paris is advocating a meeting of the EU3 PLUS 3 
on the margins of the Pittsburgh G20 meeting.  The French 
hope to approve a two-paragraph statement laying out next 
steps on negotiations or sanctions.  He noted that German 
Chancellor Angela Merkel shares the view of the French 
President and is willing to be firm on sanctions, but that FM 
Steinmeier was more cautious.  The Iranian regime must 
understand that it will be more threatened by economic harm 
and the attendant social unrest than it would be by 
negotiating with the West.  Unfortunately, the P-3 cannot 
remain passive until Russia and China finally lose patience; 

PARIS 00001254  004 OF 004 

this is why a high-level political meeting is important to 
advance this discussion (and Levitte cited President 
Sarkozy's frank and direct style, saying that he would 
pinpoint Medvedev to explain his position).  Levitte said 
that he informed the Chinese FM that if they delay until a 
possible Israeli raid, then the world will have to deal with 
a catastrophic energy crisis as well.  At the same time, the 
debate over stopping the flow of gasoline into Iran will be 
very sensitive and would have to take into account which 
countries would be only too willing to step in and replace 
European companies.  Levitte informed us that they would like 
President Sarkozy to talk to President Obama by telephone in 
the coming days to discuss the G20 and Iran.  The French are 
proposing two possible windows to schedule the call. 


12.  (C) Levitte said that France was very pleased with the 
selection of Madeleine Albright to chair the "Group of 12," 
which will launch the process of reviewing NATO's Strategic 
Concept.  Bruno Racine will be the French participant on the 
panel, and Levitte stressed that there is already strong 
agreement between France and the United States on the basis 
of exchanges that he has had with NSA General Jim Jones. 
Levitte noted that Paris agreed with Jones on suppressing the 
Membership Action Plan (MAP), which had become an obstacle 
rather than an incentive.  A/S Gordon responded that we must 
not change the process in a way that would be interpreted as 
suggesting an end to NATO enlargement and eliminating MAP 
might do that.  Levitte agreed and added that French 
President Sarkozy was "convinced" that Ukraine would one day 
be a member of NATO, but that there was no point in rushing 
the process and antagonizing Russia, particularly if the 
Ukrainian public was largely against membership.  The 
Bucharest summit declaration was very clear that NATO has an 
open door and Ukraine and Georgia have a vocation in NATO 
(even if Georgia remains very unstable at the moment). 
Levitte added that Paris was very pleased with the ceremony 
on September 9 transferring the Allied Command Transformation 
(ACT) to French General Stephane Abrial. 


13.  (C) Levitte observed that Venezuelan President Hugo 
Chavez is "crazy" and said that even Brazil wasn't able to 
support him anymore.  Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of 
the richest countries in Latin America and turning it into 
another Zimbabwe. 

14.  (U) Assistant Secretary Gordon has cleared this message. 


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