08TBILISI179, DAS BRYZA’S 19 JANUARY MEETING WITH GEORGIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI179 2008-02-04 14:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8930
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0179/01 0351423
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 041423Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8792
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000179 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR DAS BRYZA, EUR/CARC, AND EUR/RPM 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS GG
SUBJECT: DAS BRYZA'S 19 JANUARY MEETING WITH GEORGIAN 
DEFENSE MINISTER DAVIT KEZERASHVILI 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John Tefft, reason 1.4(b), and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili 
told DAS Matthew Bryza at a 19 January meeting that Georgia 
still hopes to achieve a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the 
upcoming Bucharest NATO summit. Kezerashvili argued that 
failure to meet this goal before the spring 2008 Georgian 
parliamentary elections could undermine domestic support for 
the Georgian government's pro-NATO policy and boost those 
opposition leaders who prefer Georgia adopt a policy of 
neutrality. He also implied that it could hurt the 
government's ability to justify the continued deployment of 
troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kezerashvili expressed 
concern that the expected recognition of Kosovo's 
independence could prompt Russia to recognize Abkhazia in 
response, with dangerous consequences. He also stressed the 
importance of Azerbaijani gas exports to help Europe 
diversify its sources of supply away from Gazprom. End 
Summary. 
 
Georgia Should Join NATO Sooner, Not Later 
------------------------------------------ 
2. (C) At a 19 January meeting with DAS Bryza and Ambassador 
Tefft, Kezerashvili contended that increasing European 
dependence on Russian natural gas is driving a parallel 
increase in Russian influence in Europe.  As a result, he 
predicted that it will only become more difficult for Georgia 
to gain NATO membership over time, as European countries 
become less inclined to alienate Russia, their principal 
energy supplier. As a result, Kezerashvili argued that if 
Georgia is not offered a MAP at Bucharest, it will be a 
significant setback, although he admitted it would "not be a 
disaster." 
 
Cooperation is a Two-Way Street 
------------------------------- 
3. (C) Kezerashvili speculated that without MAP, it would 
become harder domestically for Georgia to cooperate with 
NATO, as it would become more difficult to justify 
deployments with NATO countries.  The government's arguments 
that such deployments help achieve NATO membership would be 
vulnerable to opposition critics in the spring 2008 
parliamentary elections. He added that it would also become 
more difficult to explain to the families of Georgian 
soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq why their sons had made 
such sacrifices. Without a MAP, the Georgian government could 
likewise lack sufficient domestic support for sending troops 
to support NATO operations in Afghanistan, concluded 
Kezerashvili. 
 
MOD: Europeans Block Georgian MAP 
--------------------------------- 
4. (C) DAS Bryza reiterated strong U.S. support for Georgia's 
NATO aspirations. He noted that the November 7 street 
violence in Tbilisi had led many European countries to 
question Georgia's progress towards democracy, making the 
adoption of a MAP at Bucharest unlikely. The January 2008 
presidential election partly restored Georgia's democratic 
credentials, but Bryza noted that significant flaws in the 
election left a negative impression, which could be corrected 
with parliamentary elections in the spring that meet 
international standards. Kezerashvili complained that some 
European countries--he cited Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, and 
the Netherlands--would use any excuse to delay NATO 
membership for Georgia. These countries, Kezerashvili 
contended, shy from conflict with Moscow because of their 
dependence on Russian natural gas. DAS Bryza responded that 
the United States would continue to lobby European members of 
NATO for rapid Georgian accession as Georgia met NATO 
membership criteria. The best way for Georgia to sway these 
European critics, argued Bryza, is for the spring 2008 
Georgian parliamentary elections to represent an improvement 
in democratic procedure over the presidential elections. 
Bryza explained U.S. energy security strategy, which relies 
on increased exports of Azerbaijani natural gas through the 
Nabucco and Turkey-Greece-Italy pipelines to help Europe 
reduce its dependence on Gazprom. 
 
MOD Predicts Russian Recognition of Abkhazia 
-------------------------------------------- 
5. (C) Kezerashvili predicted that Russia would use the 
expected recognition of Kosovo as an excuse to recognize 
Abkhazia in retaliation.  In response to DAS Bryza's comments 
that many in Moscow recognize the potential costs to Russia 
of recognizing Abkhazia, especially in the North Caucasus, 
Kezerashvili said that Russia would feel "trapped" into 
recognizing Abkhazia.  If Moscow did not recognize Abkhazia, 
he concluded, Russia would "lose" Abkhazia, forcing Russia 
into recognition. He also expressed certainty that Moscow 
would not miss the opportunity to complicate the run-up to 
 
TBILISI 00000179  002 OF 002 
 
 
the spring 2008 Georgian parliamentary elections by such 
recognition. 
 
6. (U) DAS Bryza has cleared this message. 
TEFFT

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