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Zimbabwe is a nightmare of a failed state

Zimbabwe was a nightmare of a failed state but its infrastructure was still intact and it would recover quickly if the leadership shifted, the European Union Political Directors’ Troika said just a month before the formation of the inclusive government.

United States Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried who attended the troika’s meeting said if the Movement for Democratic Change agreed to a power-sharing agreement with President Robert Mugabe, the US would support the deal.

European Union leaders, however, felt that Mugabe was going to prevail for the foreseeable future because African leaders did not want outsiders to assist, but at the same time they did not want to apply pressure for Mugabe to step down.


Full cable:



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Reference ID





2009-01-14 16:12


Embassy Prague



DE RUEHPG #0027/01 0141612


P 141612Z JAN 09

















C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PRAGUE 000027







E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2014






B. STATE 1985

C. 08 BRUSSELS 1774


PRAGUE 00000027 001.2 OF 004



Classified By: Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried for reasons 1.4 (b) and



1. (SBU) Summary: On January 9 Assistant Secretary Daniel

Fried met in troika format (Czech EU Presidency and following

Swedish Presidency, European Commission, and European Council

Secretariat) at the Political Director level. The discussion

primarily focused on the Middle East and the Western Balkans,

although EU troika comments on Africa (DRC, Sudan/Chad,

Somalia) and Guantanamo Detainees were also of note. The

informal luncheon discussion with the EU 27 on Russia and

Afghanistan is being reported septel. End Summary.



Israeli-Palestinian Peace – Agree on Need for Durable



2. (SBU) Czech Political Director Martin Povejsil kicked off

the troika discussion highlighting EU concern for the

deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and civilian

casualties, while noting the need to come quickly to a

durable ceasefire. Povejsil commented on the particular need

to improve the border security, especially to address

smuggling. He noted that the EU has offered to redeploy a

monitoring mission to Rafah, but that this offer has not been

accepted so far. He also noted that the Egyptians appear

particularly reluctant to have a foreign monitoring force on

its border, and that it was important to strike the right

balance between Egyptian tolerance and Israeli confidence.

European Council Secretariat Representative Robert Cooper

noted that as Palestinian civilian casualties mount, Hamas

continues to gain ground against Israel in its “propaganda

war.” A/S Fried responded to these comments by noting the

intensive and personal engagement of Secretary Rice to help

address the current situation and achieve a durable ceasefire

that ends the rocketing, and not simply the appearance of a

ceasefire. He then went on to emphasize the need to address

the smuggling into Gaza and the significant role of Egypt in

ongoing negotiations between Hamas and Israel.



Lebanon and Syria


3. (SBU) On Lebanon, Povejsil commented that the EU would

hate to see this dispute between Gaza and Israel expand to

Lebanon again, given the “polarizing effect” this could have

on the broader region. A/S Fried noted that it is

particularly interesting that Hizbollah quickly denied

responsibility for the rocket attacks on Northern Israel on

January 7 and that Lebanese public opinion does not appear to

be inflamed at the moment. With respect to Syria, Povejsil

commented that it could exert decisive influence over Hamas,

and hopes Syria will encourage Hamas to refrain from

shelling. Syria is increasingly on the EU agenda and while

there has been movement toward signing the frozen EU

Association Agreement with Syria, the Czech EU presidency

intends to proceed “cautiously.” Povejsil stated that the EU

does not plan to “grant something for nothing” and they are

specifically looking for Syria to assume a constructive role

in regional affairs. A/S Fried reiterated USG concern that

while Syria has made pledges, it has done very little of

significance. Fried urged the EU to await concrete action

before moving forward on the Association Agreement.



Iran – EU Urges USG to Pay Attention to How We Deliver Our



4. (C) A/S Fried noted our appreciation that in November the

EU adopted regulations implementing the Common Position on


PRAGUE 00000027 002.2 OF 004



UNSCR 1803, while also noting that time has not been working

in the international community’s favor. He urged the EU to

think about what bigger “carrots and sticks” we may be able

to offer as well as what would be required of the

international community if Iran obtains nuclear weapons.

Czech PolDir Povejsil noted that Iran has been in a

“non-responsive mode,” which he anticipates will last at

least until the new USG administration takes office. Robert

Cooper noted that, “How the next administration delivers its

message will be very important.” He also stated,

“Freelancing (by unofficial self-appointed intermediaries) is

problematic,” and warned that unless the USG is clear about

its message, there could be confusion in Tehran caused by

third parties purporting to carry the official view. Swedish

Political Director Bjorn Lyrvall cited the importance of

working this issue multilaterally and urged that we look at a

new push within the UN to get Russia and China on board. A/S

Fried responded that utilizing the UN is useful when there

are new combined policies to advance, but he did not agree

that those conditions currently existed. Cooper acknowledged

this sentiment and also noted that while Russia has engaged

Iran, “their interests in Iran vary.” According to Cooper,

as exports from Europe to Iran have steadily decreased, the

exports from China have steadily increased. Sanctions do not

go over well with European businesses, especially when China

is not on board.



The Western Balkans – Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro


5. (SBU) Both the EU and U.S. concurred that 2008 was a

critically important year for the Balkans, and while much

work remains, developments in the region exceeded

expectations. The EU gave much credit for this state of

affairs, particularly with respect to the recognition of

Kosovo’s independence, to the direct engagement of A/S Fried.

Povejsil noted that EULEX passed its first test (in north

Mitrovica), and more needs to be done to kick start economic

development, a point echoed by EU Commission Representative

Karel Kovanda. Kovanda also added that the Commission is

doing a study of the prospects for social and economic

development in Kosovo, which will be released in the fall.

A/S Fried made the point that the situation in Kosovo will

not get better on its own and thus we need to keep pressing

forward, particularly with respect to having EULEX take on

the tough tasks of borders, customs and police. He also

conveyed the point that ICR Feith and EULEX Head of Mission

De Kermabon need to work cooperatively. Robert Cooper noted

this point.


6. (C) Bosnia: The EU stated its general concern that Bosnia

is far from genuine integration. Povejsil also noted that EU

enlargement remains a sensitive issue within the EU and “no

real push is possible in this area until Lisbon Treaty

question marks are addressed.” The EU is working to advance

visa liberalization in order to increase contact and

orientation of the Balkans toward the EU. Povejsil also

noted that with the upcoming Peace Implementation Council

scheduled for early March, there should be a transfer of

increased responsibility and authority to the Bosnian

leadership. He added that Dayton was an excuse for the

leaders to do little or nothing. Fried noted that the USG

view is that the five-plus-two conditions need to be met,

without cutting corners, before the OHR is closed down.

Kovanda emphasized that we must keep pressing on

implementation of the Prud/Odzak agreement if we want the

post-OHR phase to get off on the right foot. Furthermore,

Kovanda said that while the Commission was looking for ways

to facilitate the movement of people, it discovered that

about a million Croatian passports had been distributed in

BiH. Cooper suggested that, if true, DG Enlargment take that

up with Zagreb. A/S Fried said it was indicative of Croatian

ambivalence with respect to Bosnia. Fried encouraged more

support for moderate Bosniaks and was bluntly critical of


PRAGUE 00000027 003.2 OF 004



Republica Srpska leader Dodik and Bosniak member of the

Presidency of BiH Silajdzic. Fried indicated that in his

last meeting with Silajdzic, which he characterized as

“alarming,” Silajdzic expressed his opinion that he wanted

things to get worse in the Balkans so that the entire system

would have to be remade.


7. (SBU) Serbia: A/S Fried commented that while we all want

Serbia to recognize its future is in Europe, Serbia also

needs to understand that EU tolerance is not unlimited.

According to Fried, Serbian President Tadic needs to know he

cannot reopen the question of Kosovo status; hopefully the

International Court of Justice decision will come out right

on this question.


8. (SBU) Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania: Both sides agreed

that Macedonia and Greece have complicated matters by making

the name issue political. Highlighting the EU accession

fatigue setting in, Swedish PolDir Lyrvall noted that there

is now the EU application from Montenegro, which the French

accepted last month. He also noted that Albania and Serbia

are likely to be next in the queue. Injecting a word of

caution, Fried commented that “benign Albanian nationalism”

cannot be taken for granted, given the upsurge in tension in

Albanian politics. Fried closed out the discussion on the

Balkans by noting that “enlargement” is perhaps one of the

best ways to manage Serbian behavior for the better.



Africa – DRC, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, and Zimbabwe


9. (SBU) Democratic Republic of Congo: Czech PolDir Povejsil

made clear that at the EU Foreign Ministerial level consensus

does not exist to send an EU force to the Congo. He noted

that EU battlegroups had been discounted and the required

troops “just don’t exist.” According to Povejsil, the way

ahead will be for EU member states, that choose to do so, to

increase their involvement via support to MONUC, with maybe a

“light complement” of EU forces on the ground. Council

Secretariat Representative Cooper added that while the UN SYG

requested a bridging force from the EU, recent statements of

UN Special Envoy Obasanjo did not indicate such a need.

Cooper noted that there was a lot of concern about the

functioning of MONUC, as well. Commission Representative

Kovanda advocated supporting the ongoing talks between

President Kabila and rebel leader Nkunda, and he made

reference to the work of the EUSEC (EU advisory and

assistance mission for security reform) in the DRC.


10. (C) Somalia: Swedish PolDir Lyrvall welcomed the

establishment of the Combined Task Force 151 and sought

coordination, including intelligence sharing, with the EU’s

ESDP mission “Atalanta” to help address the issue of piracy.

A/S Fried said the Contact Group on Somali Piracy, meeting

the week of January 12 at the UN, would address coordination.

A/S Fried highlighted the international law issue of what to

do with captured pirates (who assumes responsibility for

them, where are they held, who prosecutes, evidentiary

requirements, etc.), while commenting that Legal Adviser

Bellinger is working on this. The EU noted that it has

already run into this difficulty with a German attempted

seizure of suspected pirates, and were consulting with Kenyan

authorities about jurisdictional matters generally. Robert

Cooper said an international framework was needed, and A/S

Fried agreed that ad hoc solutions were to be avoided.


11. (SBU) Sudan and Chad: A/S Fried highlighted some of the

potential flashpoints, such as the slow deployment of UNAMID,

as well as the need to set an election date. Povejsil

concurred that this situation has been frustrating, although

the EU has seen some slight indications of improvements, such

as the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Chad

and Sudan and a decrease in border attacks, which the EU

attributes to the increased patrols. Lyrvall also reminded


PRAGUE 00000027 004.2 OF 004



the group of the work remaining to advance the Comprehensive

Peace Agreement (CPA).


12. (SBU) Zimbabwe: The entire group acknowledged that

Zimbabwe is a nightmare of a failed state; fortunately,

infrastructure remains and it may be able to recover quickly,

if the leadership shifts. Fried acknowledged that if the

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) does agree to a

power-sharing agreement with Mugabe, we will need to support

such a deal; although if this breaks down, the international

community will need to step in quickly to assist. Povejsil

noted that Mugabe’s government is doing “almost nothing” to

address the cholera problem, besides blaming the EU for being

the root of the problem. Depressingly, the EU anticipates

“it’s Mugabe for the foreseeable future,” as the African

leaders (SADC, AU, and South Africa) do not want outsiders to

assist, yet these leaders do not act to apply pressure for

Mugabe to step down.



Detainees – EU Will Discuss, but…


13. (C) A/S Fried noted Legal Adviser Bellinger has worked

hard to address this issue and he noted with appreciation

Portuguese FM Amado’s initiative for the EU to discuss how to

assist with the resettlement of Guantanamo detainees. Czech

PolDir Povejsil made clear that this topic will be introduced

at the FM level (at the January GAERC), as the EU wants to

have this discussion at a top level. Povejsil went on to

caution that accepting detainees for resettlement likely

would be politically difficult with EU member state domestic

audiences, as well as from the legislative/judicial

perspective. He also referenced the bilateral discussion on

January 8 between Fried and DFM Tomas Pojar, which was

reported reftel. (Note: Pojar made clear that the GOCR does

not plan to accept detainees, although the Czechs would be

willing to facilitate discussion of this topic within the EU.

End Note.)


14. (U) A/S Fried cleared this cable.




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