08TBILISI1182, EU SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE SEMNEBY DISCUSSES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1182 2008-07-08 13:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

P 081327Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9739
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001182 
 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2018 
TAGS: PREF PREL GG
SUBJECT: EU SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE SEMNEBY DISCUSSES 
SITUATION IN ABKHAZIA 
 
REF: TBILISI 1122 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) In a July 8 meeting with the Ambassador, EU Special 
Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby discussed 
his impressions of the June 16 talks in Sweden between Abkhaz 
de-facto authorities and Georgian government officials and 
the current situation in the conflict zones.  Semneby, who 
participated in a dinner meeting with the sides in Sweden, 
thought that some of the members of the Abkhaz delegation 
were surprisingly constructive in their ideas and open to 
further dialogue and closer relations with Georgia. He agreed 
with the Ambassador that the head of the Abkhaz delegation, 
de-facto foreign minister Sergei Shamba, had been 
particularly negative during the talks. 
 
2.  (C) Shortly after the Sweden talks, Semneby said he had 
dinner with Abkhaz de-facto president Bagapsh in Paris. 
Bagapsh told Semneby that he was interested in opening 
Abkhazia to Europe and the rest of the world and welcomed 
closer EU involvement, particularly economic development 
projects, in Abkhazia.  Bagapsh cautioned that Europe had to 
act "quickly", implying that Russia was moving fast to 
consolidate its political and economic hold over Abkhazia. 
He also noted that the internal political situation in 
Abkhazia was complex, and that the ruling elite would need to 
see some sort of short term personal benefit from projects in 
order to make them work.  Bagapsh also suggested a mutual 
Georgian and Abkhaz withdrawal from both the Upper and Lower 
Kodori Gorge with police and militia from both sides replaced 
by a joint EU police force, an idea which Semneby found 
worthy of consideration.  There have been discussions in 
Brussels about the possibility of a multi-national EU police 
force replacing the CIS peacekeepers operating in the 
security zone, but no substantive progress has been made on 
the issue. 
 
3.  (C) The Ambassador conveyed to Semneby the strong U.S. 
position on the July 6 cafe bombing in Gali.  He told Semneby 
that he was quite explicit with Georgian Foreign Minister 
Tkeshelashvili that if the Georgians had been involved in any 
bombing, they should stop.  Semneby replied that 
Tkeshelashvili told him in a July 7 phone call that the Gali 
bombing was conducted by forces seeking to discredit Georgia 
and create another obstacle to Georgian-Abkhaz negotiations. 
Separately, he said Tkeshelashvili mentioned that she was 
disappointed by the meeting between President Saakashvili and 
Russian President Medvedev arranged over the past weekend 
during the birthday celebrations for Kazakhstani President 
Nazarbayev in Astana.  She said the Russians refuse to engage 
until the Georgians sign a non-use of force agreement with 
Abkhazia and withdraw their police from the Upper Kodori 
Gorge.  Semneby thought that the Georgians had set up the 
Saakashvili-Medvedev talks for failure by drafting a letter 
with their demands beforehand and receiving Medvedev's 
(negative) reply in advance of the meeting.  He noted that 
the Russians had expressed interest in a proposed EU 
stakeholders meeting on South Ossetia in Brussels on July 22 
(Note: Russian DFM Karasin, Georgian Reintegration Minister 
Yakobashvili and South Ossetian Joint Control Commission 
co-chair Boris Chochiev have been invited to this meeting. 
End note.). Beyond that meeting, however, they have shown 
little interest in working to ease tensions in the region. 
 
4.  (C) Semneby told the Ambassador that he thought Russia 
was intent on strengthening its position in the South 
Caucasus, either to reap the economic benefits of closer ties 
with Abkhazia or to gain greater negotiation leverage over 
Georgia regarding the separatist regions.  He said it would 
be difficult for the EU to agree on any new sanctions against 
Russia over its Abkhaz policy, and argued that such a policy 
would also have to carefully consider the likely Russian 
response. The EU wanted to support the U.S. on this issue, he 
said, but consensus would be difficult.  He agreed with the 
Ambassador that it was important to keep the Georgians from 
over-reacting to Russian provocations, which would only 
strengthen Russia's hand. He noted that FM Tkeshelashvili 
reiterated the Georgian threat to officially call for the 
removal of the CIS Peacekeepers from Abkhazia.  Semneby said 
he told her not to expect immediate results from Europe, that 
the EU was sharpening its policy with regard to the 
separatist conflicts in Georgia and that the issue was high 
on its foreign policy agenda, but results would take time. 
 
 
TEFFT

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