Portugal’s political director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vasco Bramao Ramos said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was tougher on the question of President Robert Mugabe’s participation at the European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon than his predecessor Tony Blair.
This was probably because Brown was going to face an election.
Bramao Ramos said although the question of Zimbabwe’s attendance posed a challenge, Portugal would not stray from inviting all African countries.
Viewing cable 07LISBON2054, PORTUGUESE MFA ON MIDDLE EAST, EU-AFRICA SUMMIT,
DE RUEHLI #2054/01 2211544
ZNY CCCCC ZZH(CCY ADXF2ED19 TOQ9825 640A)
P 091544Z AUG 07 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6127
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0064
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0042
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY 0005
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C O N F I D E N T I A L LISBON 002054
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (MODIFIED COLLECTIVES)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/09/2017
SUBJECT: PORTUGUESE MFA ON MIDDLE EAST, EU-AFRICA SUMMIT,
DARFUR, AND CUBA
REF: LISBON 2046
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires a.i. David Ballard for reasons 1.4 (B)
¶1. (C) MFA political director Vasco Bramao Ramos told the
Charge on August 8 that Portugal has not yet decided whether
it will contribute troops to the new UN mission in Darfur.
He expressed confidence that the EU-Africa summit would take
place in December — saying the EU and Africa have much to
discuss — but worried about the impact on other EU member
states of strong UK opposition to Robert Mugabe’s attendance.
PM Socrates is still contemplating a trip to the Middle
East, perhaps in late August. Bramao Ramos backed away from
his previous suggestion, to a number of senior USG officials,
that Venezuela be encouraged to push the Cuban regime in a
democratic direction. End Summary.
¶2. (U) In a discussion on August 8 regarding next steps in
Kosovo (reftel), Portuguese MFA political director (U/S for
Political Affairs-equivalent) Vasco Bramao Ramos and Charge
also touched on Darfur, the Middle East, the EU-Africa
summit, and Cuba’s political transition. Bramao Ramos was
accompanied by deputy Jorge Cabral and Balkans advisor Carla
Monteiro. CDA was joined by poleconcouns.
¶3. (C) Charge thanked Portugal for its recently announced
contribution of an additional 15 troops for an OMLT in
Afghanistan and asked whether Lisbon planned to contribute as
well to the UN force in Darfur. No decision has yet been
made, Bramao Ramos replied. Negotiations regarding the
composition of that mission are ongoing among potential
contributors and deployments will not be made until later in
the year, so there is still time. He lamented, however, that
Portuguese forces are currently seriously overstretched.
¶4. (C) Asked for an update on preparations for the EU-Africa
summit Portugal hopes to host in December, Bramao Ramos
underscored the importance of the summit taking place,
insisting that Europe has much work to do with Africa. He
noted that the EU planned soon to assign a permrep to the AU
in Addis who would represent both the Council of the European
Union and the Commission.
¶5. (C) On the substance, preparations are going well. Both
sides have been working hard on a joint strategy document and
an action plan, both of which would be blessed at an AU-EU
troika meeting in October.
¶6. (C) Bramao Ramos acknowledged that the question of
Zimbabwean attendance poses a challenge but expressed
confidence that the issue “will be adequately dealt with.”
One basic principle from which Portugal will not stray is
that all African countries will be invited, and in the same
way. One possibility under consideration is that the AU will
invite the Africans and the EU will invite the Europeans, and
there are other possibilities (although he did not
elaborate). He noted that they had found a way to ensure
Morocco would participate. In any case, the political
director added, invitations won’t be sent until late
September, so there is still time to find a solution.
Discussions of the issue among member states are ongoing,
according to Bramao Ramos. He said Portugal has been talking
to the United Kingdom “from the beginning,” and lamented that
the Brown government was tougher on the question of Mugabe’s
participation than its predecessor, perhaps because PM Brown
is not ending his term but will face elections in the future.
¶7. (C) The political director suggested that the EU and
China should talk to each other about Africa. We have told
them not to play “the nasty game they are playing in Africa,”
and an increasing number of African governments are growing
uncomfortable with China’s activities on the continent,
Bramao Ramos claimed. He added that the Chinese government
has begun to realize it must change the way it is doing
things in Africa and pay more attention to governance issues.
Bramao Ramos also expressed concern about India’s
increasingly active role in Africa, particularly in the
export of generic medicines.
¶8. (C) The political director confirmed that PM Socrates
still hopes to visit the Middle East, perhaps at the end of
August, although it is still very much up in the air. His
itinerary would likely include Israel, Palestine, Lebanon,
and one other Arab country, perhaps Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or
¶9. (C) Bramao Ramos raised the need to coordinate closely
with the U.S. on Cuba’s political transition. He added his
view that two South American countries have particular
influence in Cuba. President Lula of Brazil, he said, can be
a strongly positive force, whereas Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez will very likely play an unhelpful role (although
there is a slight chance he could be useful). Chavez needs
to be reminded that he assumed power through legitimate
democratic elections and that that is what must happen in
¶10. (C) According to Bramao Ramos, Cuba has blocked the EU’s
efforts to establish a formal human rights dialogue with the
regime. Pressing Cuba to participate in that dialogue will
be a priority of Portugal’s EU presidency — Bramao Ramos
cited Portugal’s “reasonably good relationship” with Cuba as
reason to be optimistic that Havana would agree. The
Portuguese have told the Cubans, both before and during their
presidency, that there is only one direction to move in, only
one direction which will bring the island peace and
prosperity, and that is the direction of democracy and
greater respect for human rights.
¶11. (C) There were no major surprises. Regarding the
EU-Africa summit, it is clear that Portugal hasn’t yet found
a solution to the question of Zimbabwean participation. The
tougher stance taken by the Gordon Brown government on this
issue clearly concerned Bramao Ramos, mostly, we suspect,
because of its potential impact on the views of other member
states. On Cuba/Venezuela, we were pleased to see the
political director singing a very different tune than he had
in recent meetings with A/S Shannon, A/S Fried, and the
Ambassador, when he advocated encouraging Chavez to play an
active role in nudging the Cuban regime toward democratic
reform. The Foreign Minister’s office had recently confirmed
that Bramao Ramos’s views on this issue did not reflect GOP
policy or the views of the Minister, and he had clearly been
reined in when we spoke to him on August 8.