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courage is contagious

Viewing cable 04THEHAGUE3166, NETHERLANDS/EU: FM BOT ON CHINA, TURKEY,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
04THEHAGUE3166 2004-12-03 16:04 2011-01-22 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 THE HAGUE 003166 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2014 
TAGS: PREL MARR CH RS NL EUN
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/EU: FM BOT ON CHINA, TURKEY, 
ENLARGEMENT, RUSSIA/UKRAINE, MIDDLE EAST, AND IRAN 


Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR CLIFFORD M. SOBEL FOR REASONS 1 
.4 (B AND D) 

1. (C) SUMMARY: During a one and one half hour discussion 
with Ambassador Sobel on December 2, Dutch Foreign Minister 
Bernard Bot laid out his priorities for the last few weeks of 
the Dutch EU presidency. Bot stated categorically that he 
will not lift the Chinese Arms Embargo, but predicted 
(again) that Luxembourg would. He claimed that getting a 
yes on Turkey will be the most important legacy of the 
Dutch presidency, but stressed that this will not happen 
unless Turkey signs the Ankara Customs Union Agreement 
protocol on Cyprus at the eleventh hour on December 17. He 
faulted the Commission for the lack of progress on Romanian 
and Croatian accession talks. With regard to Russia, Bot 
said Putin's debating skills during the U.S.-EU summit were 
impressive but worried that Russian great game thinking 
will continue to thwart closer U.S.-EU cooperation in Ukraine 
and other parts of the new neighborhood. The EU will 
remain engaged in Ukraine despite Russian pressure, but Bot 
expected a new election would likely produce the same 
(fraudulent) results. Bot is proud that he was able to bring 
Israelis and Palestinians together at the EUROMED conference 
and intends to stay engaged in the Middle East after the 
conclusion of the Dutch Presidency. Finally, Bot described 
the EU-Iran agreement as flawed, but better than nothing: 
half and egg is better than a shell. END SUMMARY. 

CHINA ARMS EMBARGO: I WILL NOT LIFT 
-------------------------------------- 

2. (C) Bot stated that the Chinese have stepped up the 
pressure to have the embargo lifted before the end of the 
year. He said he recently told Chinese Foreign Minister Li 
on the phone that I will not lift the embargo. (Note: 
This is the first time Bot has stated this categorically.) 
Ambassador Sobel asked about the language on a positive 
signal we understood would be included in the EU-China 
summit statement on December 8; Bot acknowledged that the 
statement would include language indicating that the EU was 
working toward lifting the embargo but would not go 
further. Bot denied that the statement would include any 
conditions on lifting, but stressed that the EU would 
appeal for action on Human Rights and make clear that the 
toolbox and strengthened code of conduct must be in place 
before lift. (Grinning, Bot said he told Li to blame the 
French if their refusal to make concessions on the toolbox 
prevented the lifting of the embargo.) According to Bot, Li 
said that the Chinese would ratify the International 
Convention on Civil and Political Rights soon, but did not 
want to do it with a gun to their heads. 

3. (C) Asked about the current dynamic within the EU, Bot 
said that the Baltics had recently become more active in 
expressing their concerns about lifting the embargo at this 
time, along with the Danes, Swedes, and Czechs. Bot 
predicted, however, that the embargo would almost certainly 
be lifted during the Luxembourg presidency, probably in May 
or June 2005, in response to pressure from China and France. 


TURKEY: I WANT A YES 
---------------------- 

4. (C) Bot told Ambassador Sobel that he is determined to get 
a yes for Turkey at the December 17 Council meeting, 
asserting that this is the most important thing he hopes to 
accomplish this year. He stated categorically that the 
Council decision will use the October 6 Commission report 
language on open-ended negotiations: the Austrians, he 
said, will not get what they want. On the other hand, Bot 
argued that Turkey must eventually agree to sign the 
protocol to the Ankara Agreement (effectively recognizing 
Cyprus) -- which he expected them to do at the absolutely 
last minute on December 17 or early December 18 (after 
midnight) -- or there is no deal. Bot passed this message 
to Turkish FM Gul several times over the past few weeks, he 
said, but Gul so far remained adamant that Turkey would not 
sign. Shrugging, Bot said that if that remained the Turkish 
position there was nothing he could do as this was 
non-negotiable; if Turkey did sign, he added, then Cyprus 
would come under enormous pressure to drop all other 
additional demands. 

5. (C) Bot asked for U.S. assistance in convincing Turkey to 
suspend military operations in the Aegean, at least through 
December 17, as they were providing a pretext for Greece to 
agitate against Turkish accession. According to Bot, Turkish 
PM Erdogan had told him recently that he could not stop the 
flights because he did not control the military -- an 
assertion Bot found disturbing. Asked by Ambassador Sobel 
about a possible date for starting negotiations with Turkey, 
Bot said that it would almost certainly be late 2005; he 
noted that in public statements he sometimes added or early 
2006 as a sop to the French, but did not believe it. 


ROMANIA/CROATIA: BAD VIBES 
--------------------------- 

6. (C) Bot expressed frustration with the slow progress on 
Romania and Croation accession. Romania was not even close 
to accession, he said, largely because of its lack of 
progress on competition area; while Croatia's failure to hand 
over Gotovina to the ICTY was a serious problem. Bot said 
that he did not want the Dutch presidency to be remembered 
primarily for saying no to multiple candidates, and was 
talking intensively with the Commission to find a way to move 
forward. 

RUSSIA/UKRAINE: PUTIN WINS ON POINTS 
------------------------------------- 

7. (C) In response to a question from Ambassador Sobel, Bot 
denied that the lunch discussion on Ukraine during the recent 
EU-Russia summit had been as contentious as reported by some. 
Bot stressed that Putin had been polite but tough and very 
well prepared. Compared to his own Prime Minister, Bot 
continued, Putin came across as a strong debater who could 
win on points but still fail to convince his audience 
because his premises were all wrong. Putin had argued, for 
example, that the EU should stay out of Ukraine just as 
Russia has, and suggested that Ukraine's ties to Russia 
meant it would never be a Western European state. With 
regard to next steps, Bot said that he had deliberately 
chosen to let Solana take the lead for the EU (despite 
pressure from the Poles to take a more active personal role) 
since the Commission was inherently less threatening to 
Russia than the EU presidency. Bot expected that the 
Ukrainian supreme court decision would lay the basis for 
either a re-run of the election or completely new elections, 
and speculated that the Russian line in the sand would be 
for the EU to recognize Yuschenko as a winner without one of 
these steps occurring first. In either case, however, Bot 
concluded glumly that the same forces that rigged the last 
election would probably do so again unless the West could 
come up with 25,000 monitors. While the EU had been 
relatively united so far, Bot doubted that consensus could be 
maintained over the long term if the cause appeared lost. 


8. (C) With regard to the four common spaces, both sides 
agreed at the summit to set May 2005 as the target for 
concluding agreement, but Bot was skeptical that this would 
be achieved, especially with regard to external relations. 
Russia, he said, is still operating on the basis of 19th 
century Great Game thinking, while the EU is trying to be a 
good neighbor. 

MIDDLE EAST: STAYING IN THE PICTURE 
------------------------------------ 

9. (C) Bot confirmed that the Shaath-Shalom-Bot meeting on 
the margins of the November 29 EUROMED meetings had been very 
constructive. Bot had told both parties that the EU would 
refrain from discussing final status issues provided they 
made a real commitment to successful Palestinian elections 
and related near-term steps. (In response to a question from 
the Ambassador, Bot said that he had restrained Solana and 
some Arab delegations from seeking to restart a discussion on 
final status issues during the dinner by spelling out this 
agreement.) The mood of that meeting had helped set a 
positive tone for the dinner, which Bot contrasted favorably 
to the previous EUROMED dinner in which soup and plates 
flew. The EU is committed to providing funds, logistical 
support, and observers for the Palestinian elections but is 
also seeking support from countries in the region. 

10. (C) Bot was eager to coordinate EU efforts with the U.S. 
and expressed frustration that more information on U.S. 
near-term planning was not available. He did not think he 
would be able to attend the December 11 Forum for the Future 
meeting in Rabat because he would be attending Prince 
Bernhard's funeral, but stressed that he intended to remain 
engaged on the Middle East even after the end of the Dutch EU 
presidency. (Note: On December 3, Bot told the Ambassador he 
would like to attend the Forum for the Future and intended to 
ask the Prime Minister if he could be excused from the 
funeral, but stressed that the Prime Minister was unlikely to 
approve.) Both the Palestinians and Israelis, he said, 
appreciated the Netherlands' balanced approach (especially 
when compared to some other European governments) and had 
asked him to stay involved. Bot said he had discussed this 
with his Luxembourg counterpart who also supported leaving 
much of this portfolio in Dutch hands. 
describing his commitment to 

IRAN: HALF AN EGG BETTER THAN A SHELL 
-------------------------------------- 

11. (C) Ambassador Sobel asked Bot if he thought the EU-3 
agreement with Iran would hold; Bot replied in the 
affirmative. He readily acknowledged that the agreement was 
not perfect, but noted that China had made clear its 
intention to veto any critical resolution in the Security 
Council, so that route was not practical. Citing a Dutch 
proverb, Bot argued that half an egg is better than a whole 
shell. The agreement would at least slow down the Iranians, 
he said, and could lead to a more significant IAEA monitoring 
regime in the future. 

COMMENT: 
------- 

12. (C) Bot was confident and decisive throughout the 
meeting. Although still looking for consensus within the EU, 
he also appeared comfortable choosing -- when forced to make 
a choice -- a position in favor of the transatlantic agenda 
over the objections of EU partners, as in the case of China. 
His irritation with France was palpable; at one point, Bot 
told the Ambassador in confidence that it would be a big 
mistake to reward Chirac's behavior with a presidential 
visit or other post-election gesture without guaranteed 
deliverables. 
RUSSEL