Wikileaks: "Semi-Secret Exploratory" Talks On Aegean Between Papandreou & Ankara

More wikileaks cables were just released by olympia.gr revealing, among other things, PASOK leader George Papandreou’s “semi-secret Exploratory” talks for the Aegean, as opposed to former conservative leader Costas Karamanlis’ decision to only engage with Ankara periodically. According to what was just revealed Papandreou argued that “daily nurturing” was required to strengthen Greek-Turkish relations and the cables reveal that for this to happen, PASOK had a new national strategy that was ready to be deployed for this very purpose. (the truth shall set you free George… the truth shall set you free!!!)

C O N F I D E N T I A L
SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000207
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2019

TURKEY AND AEGEAN
—————–

6. (C) Ambassador noted that if not managed well, disputes
between Greece and Turkey over the Aegean could easily spin
out of control, and he reminded Papandreou that PASOK as the
main opposition had a special responsibility not to use
Aegean issues to score political points. Papandreou believed
PASOK had been responsible on Turkey/Aegean issues, and he
recounted his own experience as foreign minister in dealing
with the Turks. He had told the Turks that if they were
really interested in seizing Greek islands, the two countries
would be irreconcilable, but if they were interested in the
question of Turkish access to Aegean seaways, then there was
room for discussion.Presuming the latter as a basis, the MFA
under Papandreou had begun the semi-secret Exploratory Talks,
which still continue, and had sought to tie Turkey’s
EU accession process to solution of Aegean issues. The
Karamanlis government, by contrast, had dropped the ball and
only engaged with Turkey periodically. What was needed,
Papandreou argued, was “daily nurturing” and not waiting for
fate to come up with solutions. On this score, PASOK had a
“New National Strategy” ready to deploy.

COMMENT
——-

7. (C) Papandreou was very positive about the new
administration and anxious to be helpful in engaging on
international issues of common concern. He displayed an easy
facility with the issues and exuded confidence that PASOK
under his leadership could do a much better job than the New
Democracy government of PM Karamanlis.

While increasing his international stature would help his domestic political
ambitions, it was clear from the discussion that Papandreou
is passionate about international affairs and sincere in his
desire to contribute to addressing the world’s problems. It
is worth giving additional thought as to whether the
administration could use Papandreou’s extensive international
contacts and leadership role of the Socialist International
to strengthen cooperation of countries in support of specific
U.S. foreign policy objectives.
SPECKHARD

FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000207
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL GR PTER MOPS SOCI IS IR NATO AFIN
ECON, TU
SUBJECT: PASOK LEADER PAPANDREOU READY TO ASSIST ON GLOBAL
CHALLENGES

REF: SECSTATE 11636

Classified By: AMBASSADOR DANIEL SPECKHARD.  REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

1. (C)  SUMMARY: In a February 12 meeting with Ambassador,
main Greek opposition PASOK President George Papandreou
offered his assistance to the new U.S. Administration on
Iran, the Middle East Peace Process, Pakistan/Afghanistan,
and other critical global issues.  Citing his special status
as head of the Socialist International and the candidate most
likely to be the next Greek prime minister if elections were
held soon, Papandreou said he had many contacts in the Middle
East and elsewhere and could play a unique intermediary role.
Ambassador assured Papandreou the new U.S. Administration
was eager to reach out in the spirit of dialogue and
cooperation but would also expect reciprocal steps.
Ambassador pressed Papandreou to help increase Greece’s
Afghanistan contributions.  Ambassador also cautioned against
PASOK playing politics with Turkey/Aegean issues.  END
SUMMARY.

NEW TONE IN OUR RELATIONSHIP
—————————-

2. (C) Although they had previously met at social events,
this was Ambassador’s first office call on Papandreou, the
son and grandson of former Greek prime ministers and himself
a former foreign minister (1999-2004).  Ambassador delivered
reftel letter from President Obama thanking Papandreou for
his congratulatory message on the President’s election and
explained the new administration’s intention to set a new
tone in U.S. foreign policy.  U.S. security considerations
would not be in conflict with our democratic ideals, and the
focus of our policy in troubled regions of the world would be
on conflict prevention, not pre-emption.  At the same time,
noting Vice President Biden’s address in Munich, Ambassador
pointed out that while diplomacy would now play a more
central role in U.S. foreign policy, the problems of
extremism and terrorism might still require the use of force
in special cases in partnership with our Allies and friends.
Papandreou was pleased at receiving the letter from the
President and spoke of being very moved at his election,
particularly since Papandreou was a former resident of
Illinois.  Papandreou also noted, however, the very high
expectations the President faced and the many challenges
ahead.

PAPANDREOU READY TO HELP IN MIDDLE EAST
—————————————

3. (C) Papandreou said he believed PASOK would be back in
power if elections were held anytime soon.  (NOTE: PASOK has
been running ahead of ruling New Democracy in opinion polls
since last summer, with the gap widening recently to about 4
percentage points.  END NOTE.)  For now, however, Papandreou
would continue to focus on his role as head of the Socialist
International, which he believed offered a unique opportunity
to assist in finding solutions to some of the world’s most
significant problem issues.  He claimed to know all the
players in the Middle East and said he had been approached by
the Iranians two years ago, looking for help in opening a
dialogue with the U.S.  The Iranians then were willing to
discuss their nuclear program but would not submit to
pre-conditions for talks.  Papandreou said he had told this
to Undersecretary Nicholas Burns, who insisted that no
dialogue could take place before Iran met its obligations to
the international community.  Papandreou also claimed to have
told the Iranians that if they were truly interested in
dialogue, they would need to play a more responsible role in
creating stability in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, a
notion to which he claimed the Iranians were open.

4. (C) Papandreou had also been discussing issues of security
and terrorism with Pakistani President Zardari, who wanted to
set up a new consultative group that would deal with
terrorism from a more holistic perspective of economic and
social development and not just as a military question.
Papandreou said Greece’s experience dealing with domestic
terrorism was relevant.  The Spanish, too, given their
experience in dealing with Basque terrorism, were also
interested in helping.

PRESSING ON AFGHANISTAN

ATHENS 00000207  002 OF 002

———————–

5. (C) Ambassador argued that the new U.S. administration
agreed with the holistic approach and was putting great
emphasis on using all the relevant tools, from diplomatic, to
developmental, to scientific and cultural. But the threat of
the Taliban in Afghanistan still called for a security
response.  Thus, the new administration was seeking to
increase NATO troop levels, and Ambassador asked Papandreou
how we could get European publics to support the increases.
In particular, could we get Greece to ease its caveats
restricting the small Greek contingent to Kabul?  Papandreou
replied by reminding that Greece had contributed to PKOs in
Bosnia, Kosovo, and “FYROM” but also said Greece might be
able to contribute more training and medical personnel and
equipment to Afghanistan.  But first, Greece would want to
see a strategy for dealing with the problem that was
comprehensive and that gave a sense where we were headed.
Greece, he said, was especially sensitive to participating in
PKOs in Muslim countries because it did not want to
exacerbate tensions with its many Muslim neighbors.

TURKEY AND AEGEAN
—————–

6. (C) Ambassador noted that if not managed well, disputes
between Greece and Turkey over the Aegean could easily spin
out of control, and he reminded Papandreou that PASOK as the
main opposition had a special responsibility not to use
Aegean issues to score political points.  Papandreou believed
PASOK had been responsible on Turkey/Aegean issues, and he
recounted his own experience as foreign minister in dealing
with the Turks.  He had told the Turks that if they were
really interested in seizing Greek islands, the two countries
would be irreconcilable, but if they were interested in the
question of Turkish access to Aegean seaways, then there was
room for discussion.  Presuming the latter as a basis, the
MFA under Papandreou had begun the semi-secret Exploratory
Talks, which still continue, and had sought to tie Turkey’s
EU accession process to solution of Aegean issues.  The
Karamanlis government, by contrast, had dropped the ball and
only engaged with Turkey periodically.  What was needed,
Papandreou argued, was “daily nurturing” and not waiting for
fate to come up with solutions.  On this score, PASOK had a
“New National Strategy” ready to deploy.

COMMENT
——-

7. (C) Papandreou was very positive about the new
administration and anxious to be helpful in engaging on
international issues of common concern.  He displayed an easy
facility with the issues and exuded confidence that PASOK
under his leadership could do a much better job than the New
Democracy government of PM Karamanlis.  While increasing his
international stature would help his domestic political
ambitions, it was clear from the discussion that Papandreou
is passionate about international affairs and sincere in his
desire to contribute to addressing the world’s problems.  It
is worth giving additional thought as to whether the
administration could use Papandreou’s extensive international
contacts and leadership role of the Socialist International
to strengthen cooperation of countries in support of specific
U.S. foreign policy objectives.
SPECKHARD

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