Home >  id: 102065 date: 3/27/2007 8:18 refid: 07ATHENS625 origin: Embassy Athens classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY destination: header: VZ

id: 102065 date: 3/27/2007 8:18 refid: 07ATHENS625 origin: Embassy Athens classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY destination: header: VZ

id: 102065

date: 3/27/2007 8:18

refid: 07ATHENS625

origin: Embassy Athens

classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

destination:

header:

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000625

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: MARR, PREL, GR

SUBJECT: SEA CHANGE AT SOUDA BAY: NEW LOCAL POLITICIANS

SEEK BETTER RELATIONS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During a March 22 visit to Crete to attend

the retirement ceremony for departing Captain Sale,

Ambassador met local mayors and the new nomarch (governor) of

Chania.� The positive reception Ambassador received was

markedly different from his very frosty meetings with the old

leftist leadership and augured well for good cooperation

between the local communities and Souda Bay NSA.� The new

local politicians stressed their desire for more USN ship

visits and promised to do what they could to resolve

outstanding issues, such as the stalled Marathi fuel

pipeline.� END SUMMARY.

SEA CHANGES AT SOUDA BAY

------------------------

2. (SBU) On March 22, Ambassador traveled to Crete to deliver

the keynote address at the retirement ceremony for Souda Bay

Naval Support Activity (NSA) commander Captain Steven Sale.

Ambassador also paid calls on several local politicians with

whom Souda NSA deals on a regular basis, including Governor

(Nomarch) of Chania Grigoris Archondakis, Mayor of Chania

Kiriakos Virvidakis, and Mayor of Akrotiri Mikalis Kynigos.

Virvidakis had previously served as mayor and was re-elected

in the October 2006 local elections.� Archondakis and Kynigos

are new to their positions.� All three are members of New

Democracy.

3. (SBU) Overall, the meetings focused on the need for good

relations and cooperation.� Such discussions in another

context would be unremarkable but in the case of Souda Bay

represented a radical change from the situation that had

prevailed for the last several years.� Previously, local

leftist politicians were openly hostile to Souda Bay NSA and

had little interest in visits by USN ships, despite the

substantial financial benefits local communities reap from

port calls.� The tenor of the Ambassador,s meetings with the

new local leadership, in contrast, augured well for

cooperation and good relations.� Indeed, the new atmosphere

was evident from the start of the day, when the governor and

two mayors attended the retirement ceremony -- the first time

in memory that local Cretan politicians had attended an

official function at Souda Bay NSA.

GOVERNOR PLEADS FOR SHIP VISITS

-------------------------------

4. (SBU) Chania Governor Archondakis, owner of a small local

pharmacy chain, as well as a resort hotel that caters to

handicapped customers, told Ambassador a "radical change" had

taken place in local politics.� One of his top priorities was

to strengthen ties between the Chania community and the U.S.

Naval base.� That would not only bring economic benefits but

would also demonstrate the changed political atmosphere.

Ambassador underscored the desire of Souda Bay NSA and the

Embassy to increase the number of port calls by USN ships,

explaining that fewer ships had visited recently because of

the increased tempo of USN operations in the Persian Gulf and

elsewhere.� These operations left little time for shore leave

and goodwill visits, though Ambassador expected that

situation to change in the near future.

5. (SBU) Ambassador also noted the impact of the black-dye

fuel issue.� (NOTE: GoG regulations require tax-exempt fuel

sold on local markets to international buyers to contain

black dye as a safeguard against re-sale, but USN rules

require purchasing only "clear and bright" fuel.� Many USN

ships, thus, have taken their business to other countries.

END NOTE.)� Another important issue was the construction of a

new fuel pipeline from the Marathi piers to the Souda Bay air

station.� The governor understood both issues well and

promised to do what he could to get them solved.� He had

already spoken to the mayor of Akrotiri, where the dig

permits for the pipeline must be issued, and believed he was

favorably disposed.

OLD HAND IN CHANIA

------------------

6. (SBU) Mayor of Chania Virvidakis -- a physician and a

cousin of FM Dora Bakoyannis -- already demonstrated goodwill

toward Souda Bay NSA during his first term but was equally

focused on getting more ships, both military and tourist, to

visit.� The mayor had two projects in the works to make

Chania more attractive: an infrastructure renewal focused on

ATHENS 00000625� 002 OF 002

repairing roads and planting more trees, and a cultural

renewal focused on repairing monuments and building museums

and other cultural attractions.� In response to the mayor,s

plans to establish a Mediterranean architectural center, the

Ambassador offered to invite his brother-in-law, a professor

of architecture at the University of Hawaii specializing in

energy efficient designs, to address one of the center,s

conferences.� With the mayor, Ambassador also noted the

negative impact of the fuel-dye issue on USN ship visits.

A GREENHORN, BUT SAVVY

----------------------

7. (SBU) Akrotiri mayor Kynigos noted a somewhat

anti-American climate in Crete but argued that it was no

worse than elsewhere in Greece.� He also argued that it was

directed not at Americans, but at American foreign policy.

He added, however, that his job was not foreign policy but

the well-being of Akrotiri.� He said he had already met

Captains Sale and McDonough and looked forward to good

relations.� He lobbied for locals getting more jobs at Souda

Bay NSA, which would help improve their attitude towards the

base, and suggested the base make an effort to buy more local

agricultural products for provisioning ships.

8. (SBU) Ambassador thanked the mayor for attending the

retirement ceremony, noted the desire of the Embassy and

Souda Bay NSA to increase the base,s economic benefits to

the community -- particularly through more ship visits -- and

asked the mayor for his help with approval of the fuel

pipeline, which was not only necessary but also a gesture of

good will.� The mayor responded that he had been in office

only two months and such things took time.� Nevertheless, the

mayor said he would do what he could to help.

COMMENT

-------

9. (SBU) Embassy Athens is sorry to see Captain Sale retire.

Steve has done an excellent job in reaching out to the local

communities on Crete, in addition to managing Souda Bay NSA

very well.� He is a first-rate diplomat.� We look forward to

working with his successor, Captain McDonough, who intends to

continue Captain Sale,s outreach efforts.� Embassy will do

everything it can to support him and Team Souda.

RIES

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 106565

date: 5/2/2007 15:16

refid: 07ATHENS872

origin: Embassy Athens

classification: SECRET

destination: 07ATHENS763|07SECSTATE55436

header:

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OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8944

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S E C R E T ATHENS 000872

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2017

TAGS: MARR, MASS, MOPS, PREL, PTER, IZ, GR

SUBJECT: GREECE AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO IRAQ

REF: A. SECSTATE 55436

���� B. ATHENS 763

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHARLES RIES.� REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

1. (S) SUMMARY: Per ref a, Embassy has assessed Greece's

ability and willingness to contribute military or civilian

resources to enhance the security mission in Iraq.� Greece

has made financial, logistical, equipment, and training

contributions to Iraq and may be amenable to further similar

contributions.� Greece has not contributed troops or other

personnel, however, and is highly unlikely to do so in the

future.� END SUMMARY.

GREECE'S RECONSTRUCTION EFFORTS

-------------------------------

2. (C) GoG contacts have told us Greece contributed more than

14.5 million euros to Iraq, three million of which went to

the UNDP trust fund (500K for elections, 600K for general

development projects, and 1.9M for de-mining).� The remainder

(11.5M) represented bilateral assistance to Iraq focused on:

health, education, de-mining, emergency situations relief,

and aid to vulnerable women and children.� Our contacts

underscored that these contributions

represented only those undertaken through the MFA.� They

noted that Greeks were generous in giving to humanitarian

causes, and it was possible that private Greek organizations

had also contributed substantial sums in addition to the MFA

amounts, though they had no data on possible private

contributions.� In 2004-2005, Greece also contributed 500K

euros to the UN trust fund for protection of UN forces in

Iraq and is considering doing so again following the December

2006 appeal by the UN SYG.

MILITARY CONTRIBUTIONS

----------------------

3. (C) At the start of the Iraq war, Greece provided

extensive support for aircraft refueling and other logistical

activities at Souda Bay in Crete.� Greek Special Forces teams

were employed on the high ground above Souda Bay for several

months to provide security for U.S. military operations

there.� The Greek military took every available fuel truck

and driver to help deliver aircraft fuel to the U.S. Naval

Support Activity airfield, which enabled U.S. KC-135

refueling aircraft to refuel every B-52 striking Iraq from

the west.� When it became evident that even more fuel was

needed, the Greek Air Force diverted 100 percent of their

115th Fighter Wing's fuel pipeline at Souda Bay to serve the

U.S. effort.� In the last 18 months, the Greek MOD has

contributed 100 former East German armored personnel carriers

(BMPs) and 4.5 tons of ammunition to the Iraqi army, provided

training in Athens for five Iraqi physicians, and trained 30

Iraqi military personnel in Bulgaria for two weeks last

August.

WHAT MORE TO EXPECT

-------------------

4. (S) The GoG may be amenable to making further financial,

equipment, or training contributions.� Deputy FM Stylianides

was to attend the signing of the International Compact with

Iraq, which we interpret as a signal of the GoG's willingness

to continue to play a role in Iraqi reconstruction.

Opposition to the war in Iraq remains very high in Greece,

however, and politicians from the governing New Democracy

party and opposition PASOK would regard as political suicide

any suggestion of sending Greek forces or other personnel to

Iraq.� This is even more true with elections likely as early

as September or October.

RIES

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

date: 7/30/2007 8:03

refid: 07ATHENS1521

origin: Embassy Athens

classification: CONFIDENTIAL

destination: 07ATHENS625

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INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES PRIORITY 0021

RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHMFISS/NAVSUPPACT NAPLES IT PRIORITY

RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY

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----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 001521

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2017

TAGS: GR, MOPS, PGOV, PREL

SUBJECT: GREECE: CRETAN GOVERNOR WANTS MORE USN SHIP VISITS

REF: ATHENS 625

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES THOMAS COUNTRYMAN.� REASONS 1.4 (B) AN

D (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a July 19 meeting with CDA, Governor

(Nomarch) Grigoris Archondakis of the Chania district of

Crete (where Souda Bay Naval Support Activity (NSA) is

located) said it was important to get more U.S. ship visits,

not so much for the economic benefits, substantial as they

may be, but for the "political benefit" of demonstrating U.S.

support.� The governor, who ran on the New Democracy ticket,

believed PM Karamanlis himself may not yet know when the next

elections would occur -- the governor preferred October --

but said he advocated the PM take a more liberal (i.e.,

free-market) approach to governance issues.� On economic

issues, the governor said tourist revenues were up again this

year by 6-7 percent and outlined several infrastructure

improvements projects that indicated his district was on the

upswing.� END SUMMARY.

MORE SHIP VISITS, PLEASE

------------------------

2. (C) Charge d'Affaires a.i. Thomas Countryman and

DepPolCouns traveled to Chania to participate in the 99th

meeting of the U.S.-Greece Joint Commission (reported septel)

and to take part, respectively, in the high school and

college programs of the Greek Association for Atlantic and

European Cooperation.� We also took the opportunity to pay a

call on the governor, who was elected last October on a

platform advocating more U.S. and other NATO ship visits.

(NOTE: Archondakis replaced a socialist of PASOK's left wing,

who actively sought to discourage NATO ship visits to Chania.

NATO obliged and the consequent drop in revenue to local

businesses created sufficient economic pain for the local

population that voters turned out the previous governor in

favor of Archondakis.� See reftel.� END NOTE.)

3. (C) Archondakis said it was important to get more NATO,

and especially USN, ship visits to Chania.� This was not so

much for the economic benefits that the visits would bring --

although those were substantial and much appreciated.

Rather, it was for the "political benefit" visits brought in

terms of showing U.S. support to the local community, which

he claimed was very pro-U.S. despite a small, very vocal

communist minority.� Archondakis argued this was also the

case in terms of increasing purchases of locally produced

and/or supplied commodities by Souda Bay NSA.� (NOTE: Souda

Bay NSA estimates that apart from ship visits, the base

itself annually pumps approximately 25 million USD into the

local economy in terms of wages, rents, etc.� The governor

would like to see this increased by expanding NSA local

procurement to show the local population that the USN is a

good and valuable neighbor.� END NOTE.)

ELECTIONS: SOONER THE BETTER

----------------------------

4. (C) PM Karamanlis himself probably did not know yet when

he would call the next elections, according to Archondakis

but the governor believed they should be called soon.� He was

aware of ND's recent slide in the opinion polls in relation

to PASOK due to the social security bond scandal and the

government's seeming inability to control forest fires, which

had just a few days prior destroyed large forest areas on

Crete.� But the governor believed ND needed the elections

before the next EU budget, which could cause further voter

resentment.

5. (C) The governor also believed the PM should Qcored the importance of the

rule-of-law issue for the current government, with which the

governor also agreed.

CHANIA ECONOMY ON THE UPSWING

-----------------------------

ATHENS 00001521� 002 OF 002

6. (C) Chania was experiencing a "good tourist year," with

revenues up six to seven percent, and most of these tourists

were Scandinavians.� To keep up with the tourist boom, the

governor said an airport expansion was planned to be paid for

by a tourist tax, as opposed to coming out of EU funds, which

would be better spent on road projects.� Roads were, in fact,

a big problem, according to Archondakis.� He had recently

presented a 1.5 billion euro proposal to the Ministry of

Construction for a road project, which would also be funded

through tolls.� In Souda Bay, a pier expansion was planned as

well.� These upward economic indicators were further

bolstered by a thriving real-estate market, which the

governor said was experiencing an increase in land prices.

7. (C) COMMENT: The Chania district has experienced a

political sea change since the local elections last fall.

Previously, we dreaded paying calls on local politicians, who

used the opportunity for negative grandstanding.� Now, the

governor and other local officials welcome our visits and

encourage us to send more USN ships.� We agree with the

governor's argument that more ship visits, as well as

increased local purchasing by Souda Bay NSA, would provide

significant political benefit.� Souda Bay NSA is actively

pursuing ways to increase its use of local procurement, and

we encourage the USN to take advantage of the new welcoming

attitude of Chania in its planning for ship visits.

COUNTRYMAN

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 117261

date: 7/31/2007 13:27

refid: 07ATHENS1531

origin: Embassy Athens

classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

destination: 07ATHENS496

header:

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OO RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHYG

DE RUEHTH #1531/01 2121327

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FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9825

INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RHMFIUU/COMNAVREG EUR NAPLES IT PRIORITY

RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHMFIUU/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHMFIUU/NAVSUPPACT NAPLES IT PRIORITY

RHMFIUU/NAVSUPPACT SOUDA BAY GR PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY

----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ATHENS 001531

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: MARR, PREL, GR

SUBJECT: 99TH U.S.-GREEK JOINT COMMISSION: MEETING SUMMARY

REF: ATHENS 496

1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: On July 23, the 99th meeting of

the U.S.-Greek Joint Commission dealing with bilateral

political-military issues, particularly the relationship

between Souda Bay Naval Support Activity (NSA) and the

Government of Greece, was held at Souda Bay NSA on the island

of Crete.� Issues discussed at the JC included: problems

associated with black fuel dye in Greek marine gas oil; the

status of the U.S.-Greece ACSA agreement; Greek slowness to

sign end-use agreements pertaining to peacekeeping operations

and pooled weapons transfers (&Blanket Assurances8);

land-lease issues concerning a periphery extension at Souda

Bay NSA; military-to-military agreements; Greece's failure to

sign a bilateral PSI shipboarding agreement; and various

small construction projects at Souda Bay NSA.� COMMENT: As at

the 98th JC (reftel), the atmosphere was cordial and

fruitful.� Success at the 98th JC and in the interim period

has meant, however, that the remaining outstanding issues

represent some of the most intractable problems.� We

nevertheless remain impressed with Greek JC co-chairman

Vassilokonstandakis' enthusiasm and can-do attitude.� END

SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

2. (SBU) Charge d,Affaires a.i. Thomas Countryman (CDA), the

U.S. Joint Commission co-chairman, began by noting that the

JC created a good environment in which solutions are found

not only during the JC meetings but also between meetings.

He cited the extension of the MDCA, the successful resolution

of the 302 Form issue, and the approval of the Marathi fuel

pipeline as examples of positive results.� MFA North America

Directorate acting director and Greek JC co-chairman Grigoris

Vassilokonstandakis thanked the U.S. side and agreed with the

CDA on the value of the JC and the importance of the

accomplishments between meetings.� Both sides introduced the

members of their delegation then addressed specific agenda

items.

FUEL COLOR

----------

3. (SBU) Embassy became aware in Sept 2005 that U.S. Military

Sealift Command (MSC) vessels were refusing to take delivery

of Marine Gas Oil (MGO) at Souda Bay because of the color of

the fuel.� USMC vessels require fuel to meet a &clear and

bright8 standard so that it can be inspected visually for

contaminants.� Greece, however, had begun requiring MGO to be

dyed black to mark it as tax-free/for-export-only.� CDA cited

figures showing Greek petroleum providers losing

approximately 300 million USD in sales annually, the Greek

Government losing taxes, and the Prefecture of Hania losing

revenue from canceled ship visits.� He noted that we would

like to solve the problem either by going to the original

clear-color standard or finding another solution.

4. (SBU) The Greek co-chairman said the Ministry of Economics

could probably do something to speed things up, but he

thought they still needed about two to three months for a

ministerial decision.� Nevertheless, he said the GOG was very

close to a solution and that the MFA was in constant contact

with all pertinent officials.� He advised the CDA to raise

the issue in the latter,s upcoming meeting with Finance

Minister Petros Doukas and to note to Doukas that no other

European country dyes its fuel black.� CDA agreed to raise

the issue with Doukas.� On July 26, CDA also discussed the

issue with the new chief of the Greek Customs Service, who

said he was aware of the issue and was working on a solution

(unspecified).

STATUS OF ACSA AGREEMENT

------------------------

5. (SBU) The Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA)

is a bilateral agreement between Greece and the U.S. that

allows their respective militaries to provide mutual

logistical support.� The original ACSA was signed in 1996 and

amended by a supplemental agreement in 2005.� The original

ACSA was not ratified by the Greek Parliament.� The amendment

contained a provision stating that it would not be effective

until Greece verified by diplomatic note that its internal

coordination procedures had been completed.� When the U.S.

side asked Greece for the diplomatic note at the 98th JC, the

Greek co-chairman replied that the amendment had to be

ATHENS 00001531� 002 OF 004

ratified by parliament and that it would be best if the U.S.

submitted a whole new agreement to replace the original and

the amendment.

6. (SBU) ODC legal advisor LTC May noted that EUCOM was

willing to negotiate a new agreement to replace the original

agreement and its amendment.� COL Assimakis agreed and said

his staff was ready to receive a draft text of the

replacement agreement and meet with EUCOM personnel to

negotiate the final text.� CDA said he hoped for a fast

negotiation since this agreement saved a lot of money for the

respective militaries.� The Greek co-chairman asked the U.S.

side to send the new draft agreement with a dip note to him

and he would forward it to the HNDGS.� Both sides agreed that

the old agreement was valid until a new one was executed.

END-USE AGREEMENTS

------------------

7. (SBU) Embassy Athens has sought for over a year to secure

from the GOG a 505 end-use agreement covering peace-keeping

operations.� Since last fall, we have also sought to conclude

a blanket assurances end-use agreement that would allow

Greece to participate in an equipment-sharing program with

about 25 other countries.� Greece thus far has not signed the

agreements.� Vassilokonstantakis has told us in the past that

the MFA favored the agreements, and while the MOD was likely

not in principle opposed, he was unable to locate anyone

within MOD willing to take responsibility to sign the

agreements.

8. (SBU) The Greek co-chairman and MFA legal advisor Fani

Livada argued that the 505 and Blanket Assurances agreements

were not proper subjects for discussion at a Joint Commission

meeting and should probably be discussed at the HLCC.� The

U.S. side replied that the 505 and Blanket Assurance

agreements were appropriate topics for the Joint Commission

because there are general provisions in the MDCA that state

the U.S. would assist in the modernization of the Greek

Military.� The Greek co-chairman said unofficially that the

505 agreement was close to resolution and would probably be

signed before the next JC meeting.� He noted, however, that

the Blanket Assurances agreement would take more time.� The

U.S. side offered help in overcoming any obstacles.

LAND-LEASE UPDATE

-----------------

9. (SBU) At the September 2001 JC, the U.S. formally

requested Greece to increase the boundaries of NSA Souda Bay

to allow a widening of the perimeter fencing for

force-protection purposes.� Greece agreed to the land

transfer, but it has taken several years to complete because

of the number of agencies and processes involved.� One of the

last (and hardest) steps of the process (expropriation) was

completed by the February 2007 Joint Commission.� We were

informed then that there would be a public-comment period

concerning the transfer but things would move quickly

thereafter.

10. (SBU) At the 99th JC, the Greek side said it had good

news in that none of the landowners had objections about the

rate of compensation for their land.� The only problem was

that 40 percent of the landowners claimed their land was

larger than the GoG estimated and that they were entitled to

greater compensation.� Greece, therefore, needed to use the

topographical service (Greek equivalent of surveyors) to get

more precise measurements of the land and verify landowner

claims.� The Greek co-chairman estimated the measurement

process would take two months after which the landowners

would be invited to receive payment.� The HAF representative

said unofficially that if the amount of the land were larger

than anticipated, the HAF would pay the necessary additional

compensation to the landowners to allow for speedy resolution

of this long-standing issue.

MILITARY-TO-MILITARY AGREEMENTS

-------------------------------

11. (SBU) To facilitate smoother interaction with regard to

various pending agreements, the U.S. side asked whether it

was possible to determine a priori which new agreements

negotiated between the U.S. and Greek militaries were

ATHENS 00001531� 003 OF 004

self-executing and which had to go to parliament for

ratification.� The Greek co-chairman and Mrs. Livada said

that each agreement had to be looked at individually, but in

general, agreements that had no financial implications and

the ones that are too technical usually did not need

parliamentary approval.� Everybody agreed that each time a

new agreement was being negotiated it should be briefed to

the JC.

PSI SHIPBOARDING AGREEMENT

--------------------------

12. (SBU) Under the category of &Other Business,8 the U.S.

side inquired about delays in Greece's signing a bilateral

shipboarding agreement under the Proliferation Security

Initiative (PSI).� PSI is designed to enhance the detection

and prevention of illicit WMD material trafficking.� To make

full use of PSI, the U.S. has asked Greece to sign a

bilateral shipboarding agreement governing various procedures

for the inspection of each country's vessels on the high seas

by either country.� Negotiations over the terms of a ship

boarding agreement occurred periodically since September

2004.� Greece has endorsed PSI and will host the October 2007

PSI Experts, Meeting in Rhodes.� But the GOG has not signed

a bilateral shipboarding agreement due primarily to concerns

of Greek shipowners, who control a large proportional of the

world's commercial shipping fleet.� The Ship Owners,

Association is concerned about how liability for damages

would be dealt with under the current form of the agreement.

13. (SBU) At the Joint Commission meeting, CDA ) while

acknowledging that PSI was outside the normal scope of the JC

-- stressed that it was in the Greek Government's interest to

sign the shipboarding agreement since the U.S. was prepared

to board any vessel suspected of transporting illicit WMD

whether or not a bilateral shipboarding was in place and

Greece would be in a better position if an agreement were

signed.� Mrs. Livada avoided a direct answer, citing the

complexity of the issue and on-going concerns of the

shipowners.� CDA said we would like to have progress on the

issue before the October meeting in Rhodes.

VARIOUS SMALL PROJECTS AT SOUDA BAY NSA

---------------------------------------

14. (SBU) Souda Bay NSA Executive Assistant Bruce Gale then

said that there were a number of small projects that needed

approval before funding disappeared on October 1, 2007.

Under normal procedures, the projects would be approved by

the HAF before being presented to the JC.� Gale argued,

however, that he could not get USN approval and funding for

the projects until he had conditional approval of the GOG.

The projects in question included:

-- Connecting the Admin building with an adjoining building

to provide more space for Greek representatives to Souda Bay

NSA;

-- Small addition to the Gymnasium;

-- Construction of a small auto &hobby shop8 where Souda

Bay NSA personnel could repair their POVs.

15. (SBU) Gale asked for preliminary approval for the

construction by the JC, conditional on the HAF giving their

technical approval for the projects.� The Greek co-chairman

responded that he could not give the approval now but would

expedite the approval within the MFA even without the HAF

technical evaluation.� Gale asked for an answer by August 15

before funding evaporated.� The Greek co-chairman promised a

timely, even if unofficial, answer.

16. (SBU) Finally, the Greek side inquired about the dates of

the next U.S.-Greek High Level Consultative Committee (HLCC),

which is slated for Washington.� The U.S. side responded that

it did not yet have a firm date, but hoped the meeting would

take place in October.

17. (SBU) 99th Joint Commission participants:

U.S. DELEGATION:

ATHENS 00001531� 004 OF 004

U.S. Embassy:

Mr. Thomas M. Countryman, Charge d,Affaires a.i. and JC

Co-Chairman

Dr. Paul M. Carter, Jr., Deputy Political Counselor and

Political-Military Chief

Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC):

Colonel Steve G. Boukedes, ODC Chief

Lt. Colonel Robert L. May, Jr., ODC Legal Advisor

Ms. Alexandra Karavasili, Host Nation Attorney

Ms. Catherine Hirt, ODC Legal Assistant

Souda Bay NSA:

Captain Thomas McDonough, Base Commander

Commander Mark Nowicki, Executive Officer

Mr. Bruce Gale, Executive Assistant

Lt. Brett Cook, Judge Advocate General's Office

GREEK DELEGATION:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Mr. Greg Vassiloconstandakis, Acting Director A7 Directorate,

JC Co-Chairman

Ms. Fanni Leivada, Legal Department

Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS):

Colonel G.Petkos, IRD

Colonel L. Assimakis

Hellenic Navy:

Captain A. Krimiotis,G2

Hellenic Air Force:

Colonel V. Tsakoumis, Commander 115th CW

Major Th. Papadakis, Assistant Representative to U.S. Facility

COUNTRYMAN

=======================CABLE ENDS=============

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ATHENS 000469

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2018

TAGS: GR, NATO, ODC, PARM, PGOV, PREL

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER: ADMIRAL FITZGERALD VISITS ATHENS

Classified By: Ambassador Speckhard for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1.� (SBU) Welcome to Athens.� We look forward to hosting your

visit which comes at an important time, during the Bucharest

Summit, in the U.S.-Greece bilateral relationship.� As you

know, Greece is an important NATO ally and strategic partner

of the U.S., as well as a member of the European Union.

Athens was transformed for the better by the 2004 Olympic

Games.� Greece is less idiosyncratic politically than in the

past and more internationally involved.� Relations with

Ankara, while not trouble-free, are better than in the

1990's, and Greece is one of the most steadfast advocates of

eventual full EU membership for Turkey.

-----------------

POLITICAL CLIMATE

-----------------

2.� (SBU) National elections were held in September 2007 and

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis of New Democracy, Greece's

center-right party, won another 4 years in government.

However, New Democracy won by a narrow margin and maintains a

razor thin majority of only one seat after losing 13 seats in

Parliament.� Strong gains by the far right and left parties

as protest votes and hard line views on Macedonia have had an

impact on U.S. dialogue with the GoG on Macedonia's NATO

accession, and it has been even more difficult to persuade

Athens to increase its contribution to ISAF and other NATO

missions.� The economy is performing well, aided by good

growth in the Balkan region and Greece's adoption of the Euro

in 2002.

3.� (C) While the probability of any major military

confrontation is remote, much time and energy is spent in the

military stand-off with Turkey.� Both sides are unable to

resist the frequent temptation to poke the other in the eye.

The Greeks parse very carefully any U.S. statements over

Cyprus or the Aegean, with an eye towards scoring points

against the other side.� We encourage all senior visitors to

carefully word any reference to those two problems. The GoG

dearly wants recognition of the Greek role and contributions

to stability in the Balkans.� In particular, the US military

to military relationship with Greece is the strongest

bilateral relationship we have and the Greek military is very

eager to maintain that strong relationship.� Your visit will

reinforce the US commitment to that relationship.

--------

MEETINGS

--------

4.� (SBU) You are scheduled to meet with three primary

military interlocutors; Deputy Defense Minister Tousoulos,

CHOD General Demitries Grapsas and the new Chief, Hellenic

Naval General Staff, Vice Admiral George Karamalikis.

Although military issues are important and will be the likely

focus of your meetings, five very important political issues

dominate Greek thinking and will also be addressed during

your meetings with General Grapsas and Deputy Minister

Tousollous.� Each is addressed below.

---------

MACEDONIA

---------

5.� (SBU) Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Greece

objected to the Republic of Macedonia's name.� Greeks

consider the unmodified use of "Macedonia" a usurpation of

their heritage and warn that it could encourage irredentism

towards Greece's northern province of the same name.� In

1995, the U.S. helped broker an "Interim Accord" between

ATHENS 00000469� 002 OF 004

Greece and Macedonia positing that Greece would not object to

the use of the name, "the Former Yugoslav Republic of

Macedonia" (FYROM) until the two countries could decide on a

mutually acceptable solution through UN-led negotiations.

The U.S. decision in November 2004 to recognize the Republic

of Macedonia by its constitutional name in bilateral

relations touched off a storm of controversy in Greece.� We

have repeatedly urged both sides to lower the rhetoric and

engage in negotiations led by Matthew Nimetz under the

auspices of the United Nations.� Positions have hardened as

the April 2008 NATO Summit approaches with the possibility of

a NATO invitation to Macedonia.� Greece has made clear it

will veto the invitation absent a settlement of the name

issue, notwithstanding its commitment in the "Interim

Accord".� We continue to urge both countries to work for a

mutually agreeable solution through the UN/Nimetz process.

If your Greek interlocutors raise this contentious issue,

they will make the point that future members must strengthen

security for all allies.� For Greece, this cannot happen in

the case of Macedonia until it recognizes the need for good

neighborly relations and a recognition

in the name issue.

------

KOSOVO

------

6.� (C) Greece has not recognized Kosovo's independence,

although we continue to encourage the Greeks to do so.� In

the lead-up to Kosovo's independence, the Greeks consistently

expressed concerns about the prospect of Kosovo's

independence over Serbia's objections.� Greek antipathy

largely stemmed from a knee-jerk affinity for the Serbian

position (based, among other things, on Orthodox solidarity),

but also from concerns of a possible negative precedent for

Cyprus and a possible reactionary response in Serbia that

could destabilize the region.� However, the Greeks have not

resisted or further complicated Kosovo's independence.� They

did not object to EU decision making on a Rule of Law

Mission, they have pledged substantial personnel to the EU

Rule of Law Mission, they have pledged to maintain their

force levels in KFOR, and they have provided staff for the

International Civilian Office (ICO).� We continue to make the

point that Kosovo requires friends in the region who are

committed to its success, political stability, and economic

growth.� The Greeks accept this point, but also assert that

it is important to maintain Serbia's European orientation;

Greece has been among the most active players in the EU in

engaging with Serbia post-Kosovo independence and in

encouraging Serbia's European and Euro-Atlantic perspective.

The Greeks maintain two mechanized infantry battalions in

Kosovo. These are subordinate to the 2nd Mechanized Infantry

Division in Edessa, one of their few 'high readiness units'.

-------------

ENERGY ISSUES

-------------

7.� (SBU) Greece is seeking to play a prominent new role as

an energy pipeline hub to western Europe.� We see the most

significant development as the Turkey-Greece-Italy

Interconnecter (TGI), which could be the first pipeline to

carry Caspian gas to Europe without going through Russia or

through Russian-controlled pipelines.� It is an important

step in realizing our Southern Corridor strategy of

increasing energy diversity and security for Europe, and we

have actively encouraged Greece to contract for gas from

Azerbaijan.� Greece has found itself in the cross hairs of an

intense effort by Russian Gazprom to block TGI through any of

a number of means, including proposing a competing pipeline

ATHENS 00000469� 003 OF 004

called the Southstream. The Russian aim is to block the

provision of Azeri gas to Europe through Greece.� Although

Greece relies on natural gas for less than 5 percent of its

energy needs (but plans to expand this amount significantly

under EU greenhouse gas guidelines), 80 percent comes from

Gazprom, making Greece reliant on continued Russian goodwill

in the short-medium term.

8.� (SBU) Meanwhile, Greece, Bulgaria, and Russia have agreed

to construct the Burgas-Alexandroupolis Bosporus Oil Bypass

Pipeline (BAP) and have their national oil companies share

ownership.� We support this initiative insofar as it is

commercially feasible.� The Embassy and Washington agencies

have been actively promoting with Greece the need for

increased European energy security and diversification.� It

will be useful for you to reinforce U.S. appreciation for

Greece's courage in standing up to Russian pressure on gas

issues and to build contacts with Central Asian suppliers.

--------------------

GREECE-TURKEY-CYPRUS

--------------------

9.� (SBU)� Against the sway of public opinion, the GOG

remains supportive of Turkey's EU accession hopes and

understands that a Turkey in the EU is in Greece's long-term

strategic interest.� The Cyprus issue, however, is the

sticking point.� The issue has been stymied since the Greek

Cypriots rejected the Annan plan to reunify the island in a

2004 referendum (Turkish-Cypriots accepted the Plan).� While

Athens quietly backed the Annan Plan, the Greek Government

also believed it should stand by the Government of Cyprus and

the vote of theGreek Cypriots.� The Greeks are cautiously

optimistic with the new opportunities aising from the

election of Cypriot Christofias and his stated intent of

working with the Turkish Cypriots to resolve the issue.� They

remain suspicious that Turkey may not be as committed to

achieving a permanent settlement to the issue, and

particularly worry that the Turkish General Staff (TGS) may

stymie Turkish Cypriot efforts to make progress.

10.� (SBU)� Although Greece and Turkey still differ on issues

such as Aegean air/seaspace demarcation and Greece often

complains of alleged Turkish air incursions in the Aegean,

rapprochement remains a leitmotif of their bilateral

relations.� During 2004, there were 500 mock dog fights

attributed to the demarcation disputes between the two

countries.� In 2006, the number was reduced to 150 but

tensions again arose in May 2006 when a Turkish F-16 collided

in international airspace with a Greek F-16.� Both

governments quickly brought the situation under control

successfully averting a potentially explosive situation.

Both sides adhere to the provisions of an informal CBM where

both suspend close aerial activity from June to September to

avoid potentially destabilizing incidents during peak tourist

season.� Additionally, there is a great deal of reoccurring

dissension related to the issue of over-flights of

demilitarized Aegean islands during NATO exercises.� This

controversial issue repeatedly emerges often forcing the

withdrawal of Greek support for NATO exercises in the region.

11.� (S/NF)� We understand the Greeks are preparing to submit

plans to NATO to request NATO support for an exercise over

the controversial island of Agios Efstratios.� Should they

raise this issue during your visit, we recommend you simply

note our expectation that the Greeks follow the policy

guidance they have received from CC-AIR Izmir Commander Lt

Gen McFann exactly,� that any deviation from these letters

would automatically result in the withdrawal of NATO support,

and that the question of whether NATO can support this

request will be evaluated once the plans are submitted.� As

ATHENS 00000469� 004 OF 004

you are aware, the Izmir policy letters specify that the

mission must be on the 3 month forecast; it must provide

Izmir specific flight details no later than 14 days prior to

the flight and the Air Tasking Order (ATO) must be shared

with the adjacent CAOC no later than 1 day prior to the flight

--------------------------------------------- -----

GREEK MILITARY CONTRIBUTIONS TO GWOT AND ELSEWHERE

--------------------------------------------- ------

12.� (C) At every opportunity, and at every level, we

encourage the Greeks to contribute more to the war efforts in

Iraq and Afghanistan.� Recently, the Ambassador met with

Minister of Defense Meimarakis and pressed him hard for a

Provincial Reconstruction Team in Dai Kundi, heavy lift

helicopters, more personnel in the OMLT in Jalalabad, and

removal of the caveats.� He did not reject any of the

requests outright but has yet to respond.� We encourage you

to repeat those same requests during your meetings with the

Deputy Minister and the CHOD.� We recommend that you lead off

by acknowledging and expressing appreciation for ongoing

Greek support at Souda and for the MOD's commitment to

provide personnel to the U.S. embedded training team in

Kabul.� Greece offered an OMLT with the provision that the

Kabul-only caveat could be met.� NATO came back with two

options: a Greek-led OMLT in Jalalabad (which is outside the

60 kilometer caveat but within NATO's RC-Capital region) or

to provide staff to a U.S. embedded training team in Kabul.

Greece has opted for the latter, thus far.

13.� (C) Although Greek contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan

are limited, Greek contributions to other important GWOT

initiatives are substantial and should not be overlooked.

When Turkey refused to allow the U.S. coalition to operate

from bases in their country during the last war, the USAF

moved 6 KC-135 tankers from Incirlik to Souda Bay Airfield

where the Greeks helped fuel them.� For U.S. ground forces,

the Souda Bay port complex and the airfield allowed the 4th

Mechanized Infantry Division to quickly shift from the north

to the south in time for the start of the war. Greece allows

over 24,000 over-flights a year and participates in OAE/OEF,

KFOR, and UNIFIL.� Although it is fine to thank them

privately during meetings, Greek public sentiment is strongly

anti-war, so the help Greece gives us at Souda Bay and with

frequent transshipments of ammunition are subjects they would

like to keep private avoiding any public acknowledgments.

14.� (C) A very important part of our engagement with Greece

is our robust ship visit plan.� The Hellenic National Defense

General Staff (HNDGS), the Hellenic Coast Guard and the

Hellenic National Police have been very supportive opening 12

additional ports for ship visits from 6th Fleet vessels. The

security surveys for these ports are finished and new ports

are under consideration.� Last year, 73 US ships visited 10

different Greek ports outside Souda Bay and this year, 14

ships have visited 5 different ports.� The ongoing Lebanon

crisis has necessitated several recent cancellations but once

that situation changes, we hope to see an increase in visits.

Additionally, we look forward to hosting a carrier visit

this year.

SPECKHARD

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T ATHENS 000896

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - CLASSIFICATION UPGRADED

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2018

TAGS: MASS, MOPS, MARR, PREL, PGOV, GR

SUBJECT: U.S./GREECE MIL-TO-MIL COOPERATION:� THE GOOD, THE

BAD, AND THE NECESSARY

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Tom Countryman.

REASONS 1.4 (B)� AND (D).

------------------------

SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION

------------------------

1. (C)� The U.S.-Greece bilateral relationship is facing a

particularly difficult time, as Washington and Athens have

differing views on issues such as the Macedonian name, the

independence of Kosovo, and relations with Russia.� However,

the U.S./Greek military-to-military relationship and the work

between our law enforcement and security officials has, thus

far, remained strong.� Given more difficult bilateral

relations, there is a danger that the mil-to-mil relationship

could become a casualty.� We believe our strong mil-to-mil

relationship pays important dividends, and our goal is to

support and strengthen it.� Thi message is designed to lay

out the current sate of the mil-to-mil relationship

--listing oth positives and the "irritants" we face.� It

also lays out our recommendations for further mil-to-mil

engagement, to try to ensure that this fundamental aspect of

our relationship is undamaged.� END SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION

--------------------------------------------- ------

THE GOOD - POSITIVES IN THE MIL-TO-MIL RELATIONSHIP

--------------------------------------------- ------

2.� (C)� The United States and Greece have a long, shared

history in defense cooperation, rooted in the Marshall Plan,

the Truman Doctrine, and the Cold War when our assistance

helped keep Greece in the West and away from the yoke of

communism.� The Greeks currently tend to overstate both their

contributions and their importance to the United States, and

there is no need to accept the Greek hyperbole. But some of

the facts of this cooperation speak for themselves.

3.� (S) Some of Greece's key contributions are:

--Souda Bay: Souda Bay is the U.S. Navy's most important

strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean. A wide

variety of U.S. and NATO operations in the Middle East and

the Mediterranean depend on this facility in Crete. The GOG

has proven to be a very cooperative partner at Souda Bay,

though it does not advertise this for domestic political

reasons.� We are not aware of any Greek restrictions at any

time on access, overflight, or deployment of even the most

sensitive military assets at Souda Bay.

--Blanket overflight clearances:� In the aftermath of 9/11,

the Greek Ministry of Defense has granted blanket overflight

clearances for all U.S. military aircraft that pass through

Greek airspace in support of operations in Afghanistan and

Iraq.� Over the last two years the total number of overflight

clearances has averaged 28,000 per year.

--U.S.-Greece Joint Commission:� The bilateral committee that

deals with political-military issues, including relations

between Souda Bay and the GOG, holds professional and

business-like meetings every six months and is co-chaired by

a MFA representative and the Deputy Chief of Mission.

--KFOR:� Greek military forces are important contributors to

KFOR; we understand they have volunteered to help patrol in

the North to assuage ethnic Serb community concerns.

According to the latest SHAPE statistics, Greece currently

has 655 personnel deployed in Kosovo.

--OAE:� Greece is the one of the top three NATO countries

with troops supporting Operation Active Endeavor (OAE) --

NATO's only Article 5 operation that is patrolling the

Mediterranean to combat terrorism.� Greece provides 110 out

of a total 652 deployed on OAE.� The Greeks have provided two

frigates, one fast-attack craft, extensive P-3 air support

and significant logistic and staff support at every command

level.

--Lebanon:� In 2006, the Greek military was among the first

on the scene with aircraft and ships to help evacuate

expatriates, including Americans, several days before the

U.S. was able to react.� In 2007, Greece donated a

significant amount of artillery ammunition to Lebanon valued

at USD 1.2M, in response to an urgent U.S. and Lebanese

request.� They have also provided two ships as part of the

UNIFIL Maritime Component.

--ISAF:� Besides the 144 servicemen deployed in Afghanistan,

Greece has contributed USD 64M to Afghanistan with another

USD 7.5M allocated.

--Iraq: Though Greece does not have any troops in Iraq, in

2005 and 2006 they donated 100 former East German Qit

program allowing 284

U.S. naval vessels to

visit 12 Greek ports over the last two years.

--------------------------------------------- -----

The BAD - IRRITANTS IN THE MIL-TO-MIL RELATIONSHIP

--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (S) Despite the long history between the U.S. and Greece,

there have been several issues which have been a source of

friction:

-- Aegean Issues: The Turks and the Greeks have long

disagreed about the demilitarized status of certain islands

in the Aegean, and both sides use the disputes to seek to

"score points" against the other.� In many cases, there are

legitimate legal disputes between Greece and Turkey about a

given island's status, and NATO has rightly taken the

position that it cannot adjudicate a dispute between Allies,

and therefore will not provide NATO support to any planned

exercises in those areas.

More recently, however, Greece has sought to challenge recent

and specious Turkish claims that the island of Agios

Efstratios (AE) is also demilitarized by seeking NATO support

for an exercise including overflight of AE.� Septel will

provide additional detail on this issue, but the Greeks

believe the United States' recommendation, when asked for

advice by the NATO SG, not/not to support a planned May 2008

exercise due to Turkish threats to intercept Greek aircraft

fying under NATO command and control -- was the decisive

factor in withdrawal of NATO air support.

-- Macedonia Name:� Greeks consider the unmodified use of

"Macedonia" by their neighbor to the north as a usurpation of

their heritage and warn that it could encourage irredentism

towards Greece's northern province of the same name.� The

popular perception, including in the government and

throughout the Greek military, is that Skopje has been

"intransigent" in negotiations, as a direct result of

"unquestioned support from Washington."� At the NATO Summit

in Bucharest in April, Greece blocked the invitation of

Macedonia into the Alliance.� Both the United States and

Greece were left with a disappointment, which has clouded the

general relationship.� The common Greek perception is to see

any unwelcome decision from Washington as "punishment" for

the veto, which tends to make MFA and MOD less responsive to

our requests, large and small.� To cite one important

example, we suspect PM Karamanlis may defer any decision on

procurement of American military equipment because he would

likely find it difficult to defend such a decision with the

Greek public at this time.

-- Afghanistan:� Greece is underperforming in Afghanistan.

Greece's regional caveat, limiting Greek military forces to a

60-kilometer radius from Kabul, is high on SHAPE's list of

impediments to effective NATO operations in Afghanistan.� At

every opportunity and level, we have encouraged the Greeks to

contribute more (particularly OMLTs, and helicopters) to the

war effort and to remove the regional caveat.� In response,

the Greeks offered an OMLT (limited to Kabul); are

considering how they might support a Provincial

Reconstruction Teams (PRT); have offered to redeploy a

military medical unit; and have expressed willingness to take

over operations of Kabul Airport.� These are all positive

steps -- but it is not nearly enough.

-- Russia:� Over the last several months, PM Karamanlis has

accelerated his long-term project of developing closer ties

with Moscow.� This is evident in recent deals on energy

pipelines, but also in stepped-up high-level visits,

increasing cultural ties, and Greek purchases of Russian

military equipment.� The latter includes, most notably,

signature on a deal for Greek purchase of several hundred

Russian armored personnel carriers (BMPs).� The BMP purchase

neither advances Greece's NATO interoperability, nor improves

Greek defense capabilities, and was not recommended by the

Hellenic military.� The Greek political leadership has often

made procurement decisions on political criteria, so the

purchase of Russian BMPs for criteria other than military

necessity is not unprecedented, but it is disturbing.� In

addition to our concerns about NATO interoperability,

however, we are also concerned that GOG moves toward Russia

may draw Greece into a relationship that it is ill-equipped

to manage.

--IMET:� The Greeks are disappointed that U.S. International

Military Education and Training (IMET) funds for Greece have

been drastically reduced from USD 540,000 in 2008 to USD

100,000 in 2009.� U.S. military training is a highly valued

commodity with Hellenic armed forces personnel and is

probably the most effective of our defense cooperation

activities.� We expect Greece to send more military personnel

to other countries for training, with a probable concomitant

increase in those nations' influence with the Greek armed

forces.

----------------------------------

THE NECESSARY - FURTHER ENGAGEMENT

----------------------------------

5. (C)� From our perspective, our mil-to-mil relationship --

although imperfect -- does yield results.� Our goal is to

support it and strengthen it.� In a Greek context, this means

increased engagement, preferably on a personal level.� In

many fields, our cooperation with the Greeks depends more on

personal relationships than any institutional ties we might

develop.� Getting the Greek3 to "yes" on difficult issues

generally requires a good argument coupled with cajoling and

schmoozing.� The Greeks are susceptible to flattery and quick

to be offended by a perceived slight.� As a result, we

recommend further engagement in a few key areas:

--High-Level Consultative Committee (HLCC):� Under the terms

of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement -- the

U.S.-Greece Agreement defining the terms of our military

presence in Greece -- we should hold an HLCC annually to

conduct a comprehensive, political-level review of our

defense relationship and address any issues that have been

unresolved by the working-levels.� The last HLCC was held in

Greece in 2006.� It is our turn to host, and the Greeks have

made clear their interest in this political-level meeting.

Although we are skeptical that the next HLCC will result in

any major breakthroughs in any of our outstanding issues, it

can set the stage for progress and will provide great benefit

by demonstrating to the Greeks that we do value our

partnership with them -- something that they seek and that we

can provide at little cost.� Furthermore, there is a real

opportunity to resolve outstanding operational issues (such

as obtaining the permits to allow construction of an updated

jet fuel pipeline at Souda Bay).

--Joint Staff and Other Mil-to-Mil Talks: The Greek military

is probably the most pro-American institution in Greece, due

to our shared history and extensive ties.� Greek military

officers relish encounters with U.S. counterparts and often

want to have "deliverables" for such encounters.� We

understand that the Joint Staff has proposed talks with Greek

counterparts.� We want to commend his initiative and

encourage additional simila contacts.� We understand that

Greek CHOD Genral Grapsas also seeks to visit Washington in

the Fall.� How he is received could go a very long way in

advancing our mil-to-mil relatioship and agenda with the

Greeks.

SPECKHARDBT

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 001203

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2018

TAGS: GR, PGOV, PHUM, PREL

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR AMBASSADOR LAGON'S SEPTEMBER 1-3

VISIT TO GREECE

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES DEBORAH MCCARTHY.� REASONS 1.4 (B) AND

(D).

1. (C) Welcome to Athens.� Your visit is an excellent

opportunity to press Greece to show progress on TIP issues if

it wishes to avoid a Tier-Two Watch-List rating.� Your visit

comes at a particularly delicate moment in U.S.-Greece

relations.� A NATO ally and EU member, Greece has been

helpful in some areas, such as its support for our naval

facility at Souda Bay, while also taking positions at odds

with U.S. interests, such as moving closer to Russia on

energy pipeline deals.� Bilateral relations have been

particularly difficult since Greece vetoed the Republic of

Macedonia's NATO accession at the Bucharest Summit in April.

You will face interlocutors who are reluctant to believe that

U.S. criticism of Greece's TIP record is anything other than

retribution for the Macedonia veto.

YOUR MEETINGS

-------------

2. (SBU) In line with the requests we received from your

office, we are arranging several meetings with government

officials and NGOs, as well as visits to a shelter.� These

meetings include Secretary General of the MFA Agathocles,

Minister of Justice and Public Order Hatzigakis, and members

of the Inter-Government TIP Committee.� NGOs you will see

include the European Women's Network (ENOW), Klimaka, and ACT

UP, among others. We also hope you will agree to present,

along with Ambassador Speckhard, an award to NEW Life's Emma

Skjonsby-Manousaridis, one of the 2008 TIP Heroes.� We are

also planning a press event where you will have the

opportunity to talk about the importance of human trafficking

as a global challenge.

3. (SBU) During your visit you will have n opportunity to

highlight issues in the G/TIP Action Guide for Greece,

including the development of a system for reporting arrests,

prosecutions and punishments; increased protection and

services for victims and witnesses; increased law enforcement

efforts; prosecution of trafficking-related corruption; as

well as to encourage the Government of Greece to raise the

overall awareness of TIP issues.� We have previewed the

Action Guide with the Ministries of Justice and Foreign

Affairs in anticipation of your visit.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

-------------------

4. (U) The Greek Parliament ratified on July 31, 2008, a

bilateral agreement with Albania on child repatriation, which

had been pending for several years, providing protection and

aid to children who have been victims of trafficking.� The

agreement provides for safe repatriation of children to

Albania and appointment of custodians, and measures to combat

the root causes of child trafficking, such as improved access

to education. The agreement also establishes a Central

Coordination Committee that will aim to improve efficiency of

state entities devoted to trafficking.� It will enter into

force when published in the Government Gazette.

5.� (U) The TIP police (a section of the National Police's

Organized Crime Division) issued a report on its activities

during its first two years.� Key elements include:

-- The TIP police investigated 69 cases and dismantled 13

international organized criminal networks in cooperation with

INTERPOL and EUROPOL.

-- The TIP Police filed court papers against 287 persons in

Greece and abroad, on the basis of which 192 Greeks and

foreigners were arrested.� Of the 192, 117 were charged for

participation in a criminal organization; 52 were arrested in

Greece, while warrants were issued for the others.� Of those

arrested in Greece, many are in pre-trial detention or have

been released on probation until their cases are heard by the

courts. Most cases are pending.� Four have been tried on

first-degree charges, and sentences of 15-19 years were

imposed.

-- Protection and aid was offered to 127 men, women, and

children, many of whom were voluntarily repatriated. Of the

127, 41 were recognized as trafficking victims by the

prosecutor and were placed in NGO shelters.� These numbers

have decreased slightly from previous years due to

conflicting data.

6. (SBU) On June 2, governors of border provinces in Greece,

Bulgaria, and Turkey met as part of their on-going

discussions on trafficking issues and re-affirmed their

ATHENS 00001203� 002 OF 003

commitment to support victims and to strengthen measures

against traffickers.

7. (SBU) The European Women's Network (ENOW), Klimaka, and

the Greek Council for Refugees -- all dynamic NGOs and

official partners of the MFA in combating trafficking in

persons -- complained to us about delays in receiving funds

from the Development Aid Division of the MFA.� All three NGOs

said cooperation with the Development Aid Division was ad hoc

and funds were made available only after very long delays.

As a result, Klimaka was forced to close a trafficking

victims, shelter in 2007.� Nickie Roumbani, President of

ENOW, alleged that the government shelter EKKA was also at

minimal operation level due to delays in receiving committed

funds.� ENOW and other NGOs expressed admiration for police

work but were very critical of the Ministry of Justice and

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

8. (U) At the same time, however, Hellenic Aid maintained its

ongoing commitment to help fund the Transnational Action

Against Child Trafficking (TACT) program in Albania, at its

accustomed 100,000 Euros/annum levels.� USAID is also a major

contributor to this program.

GREEK MEDIA GUIDE

-----------------

9. (SBU) In this year's Freedom House survey, the Greek media

is rated as "free," albeit near the bottom of the Western

Europe group alongside Spain and Italy.� In some respects,

however, it is more reminiscent of the Middle East, with a

tendency toward sensationalism and conspiracy theories.

Editorial and reporting lines largely support the economic

and political interest of the various medial outlets owners.

The issue of trafficking has been the subject of sporadic

Greek media attention for the past several years, usually

within the larger context of migration.� Recent examples

include a mid-July report during the prime-time newscast of a

popular TV station, which noted neither Russia nor Greece has

an adequate legal framework to address sex trafficking.� This

was part of a series on increased Russian tourism and travel

here.

10. (SBU) For your roundtable discussion, we plan to invite

Greek diplomatic correspondents from both print and broadcast

outlets who are familiar with our annual TIP report and U.S.

policy in general.� Nevertheless, you may wish to spend up to

several minutes at the start of the discussion to put the TIP

issue in global context, as well as to convey information

about Greece and your meetings here, including the award

presentation to the director of the NGO "Nea Zoi."� The

off-camera discussion will be in English, with the local

staff available to assist with any Greek translation needs

that may arise for individual reporters.

OTHER ISSUES

------------

11. (C) Although these and other TIP issues will be the focus

of your meetings, we also provide the following background on

other topical issues that could emerge -- even informally --

in your discussions.� U.S.-Greece relations are decidedly

mixed.� On the positive side, Greek-U.S. military-to-military

cooperation and the work between our law enforcement

officials remains strong.� The U.S. Navy base at Souda Bay on

Crete is a growing hub for transport and logistics in the

Middle East theater, and Greece is among the largest

purchasers of U.S. military equipment.� The Greeks have also

been good partners on domestic and international

counterterrorism issues, and we are working hard to ensure

that the overall political environment does not undermine

this cooperation on the security front.� In Kosovo, Greece is

providing personnel to the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULUX),

the International Civilian Office (ICO), the OSCE Mission,

NATO (KFOR), and has ongoing dialogue with Kosovo

authorities.� At the same time, U.S. and Greek positions on a

number of key issues have diverged.

MACEDONIA

---------

12. (C) Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, Greece objected

to the Republic of Macedonia's name.� At the April NATO

Summit, Greece blocked the invitation of Macedonia into the

Alliance under its constitutional name "The Republic of

Macedonia" -- a top U.S. priority.� Since the Summit, we have

continued to urge both Athens and Skopje to work rapidly for

a solution.� Greek/Macedonian relations have been dealt an

additional setback by a tart exchange of letters between

Macedonian PM Gruevski and Greek PM Karamanlis on questions

related to the "Macedonian minority" in Greece.

ATHENS 00001203� 003 OF 003

KOSOVO

------

13. (C) Greece does not appear likely to recognize Kosovo in

the immediate future but is playing a reasonably constructive

role behind the scenes.� Greece has been among the most

active players in the EU in engaging with Serbia post-Kosovo

independence and in encouraging Serbia's European and

Euro-Atlantic perspective.

RUSSIA/GEORGIA

--------------

14. (S) PM Karamanlis has pursued a policy of an enhanced

relationship with Russia.� This is evident in deals on energy

pipelines but also in Greek purchases of Russian military

equipment, numerous reciprocal high-level visits, and

expanding trade and cultural ties.� But Greece also has

historical ties to Georgia.� The Russian/Georgian crisis has

put Greece in a tight spot.� The GoG has come out in suSarkos with Russian defense

industry officials and the ratification in September of the

Southstream gas pipeline agreement.� The Embassy has pushed

the GoG hard to cancel or delay these ill-advised moves.

15. (C) It is important to stress, however, that while the

GoG has been rhetorically supportive of Southstream, it has

taken concrete steps to realize the Turkey-Greece-Italy

Interconnector (TGI).� This is the first pipeline to carry

Caspian gas to Europe without going through Russia or through

Russian-controlled pipelines.� TGI is an important step in

realizing our Southern Corridor strategy of increasing energy

diversity and security for Europe.� Thus, Greece has found

itself in the cross hairs of an intense effort by Russian

Gazprom to minimize the flow of Azerbaijani gas through

Greece.� We believe that Gazprom's Southstream pipeline,

which is designed to follow the same route as TGI, is

designed to undermine TGI.

GREECE-TURKEY-CYPRUS

--------------------

16. (C) Greece's role in the Aegean continues to impact its

rapprochement with Turkey and the Cyprus dispute. The

Greek/Turkish bilateral relationship has improved in recent

years, repeatedly evidenced by Athens, ongoing support for

Ankara's EU membership and PM Karamanlis' January visit to

Turkey.� There has, however, been no tangible progress on

long-standing disputes over continental shelf and the status

of islands in the Aegean.

17. (SBU) Although the Cyprus issue has been stymied since

the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN-brokered Annan plan to

reunify the island in a 2004 referendum (Turkish-Cypriots

accepted the Plan), the election of Cypriot President

Christofias and his engagement with his Turkish-Cypriot

counterpart is widely seen as a new opportunity to reach a

comprehensive solution on the island.� While Greece has

unique influence with the Greek Cypriots, it does not have

the same level of influence as Turkey has with the Turkish

Cypriot community.� The Greeks remain suspicious that Turkey

may not be as committed to achieving a permanent settlement

to the issue.

MCCARTHY

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 169412

date: 9/11/2008 14:27

refid: 08ATHENS1294

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ATHENS 001294

SIPDIS

CJCS FOR THE CHAIRMAN, STATE FOR P&EURSE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/10/2018

TAGS: GR, PGOV, PREL

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR GENERAL GRAPSAS' VISIT TO D.C.

SEPTEMBER 15-19

Classified By: AMB DANIEL SPECKHARD.� REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

SUMMARY

-------

1.� (C) The visit of General Demetrius Grapsas, Chief of the

Hellenic National Defense General Staff, to Washington is an

important opportunity to recognize Greece's support of

multiple U.S. Navy and Air Force operations in the Eastern

Mediterranean and the Middle East, including Iraq through

overflights and transmissions through Souda Bay, as well as

its ongoing contributions to Afghanistan and Kosovo. A

pragmatic and apolitical officer, Grapsas will be receptive

to our suggestions of ways Greece can further contribute.� He

is keenly interested in maintaining strong U.S.-Greek

mil-to-mil relations as we continue to have differences with

the GOG over Macedonia and a "business as usual" approach to

Russia.� Greece is a key buyer of U.S. military equipment,

though recent procurement decisions tend to be based on

political and seek a balance with the U.S., the EU, and

Russia.� END SUMMARY.

2.� (S) U.S.-Greece defense cooperation has a long history

rooted in the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine.

Currently, some of Greece's key current contributions in the

military sphere include:

-- Souda Bay: Souda Bay is the U.S. Navy's most important

strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean.� A large

number of U.S. and NATO operations in the Middle East and the

Mediterranean depend on this facility in Crete.�� The Greeks

do not place any restrictions on access, overflight, or

deployment of even the most sensitive military assets at

Souda Bay.

-- Flight Clearances/OEF and OIF Support: Since 9/11, the

Greek Ministry of Defense granted blanket overflight

clearances for all U.S. military aircraft that pass through

Greek airspace in support of operations in Afghanistan and

Iraq.

--KFOR:� Greek military forces are important contributors to

maintaining stability in Kosovo with approximately 600

personnel deployed in NATO's KFOR mission.

--OAE:� Greece is one of the top three contributors to

Operation Active Endeavor (OAE) - NATO's Article V

counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean.

--Ship visits:� The GOG has supported fully a robust

ship-visit program allowing close to 300 U.S. naval vessels

to visit 12 Greek ports over the last two years.

3.� (S/NF) General Grapsas is open, but a staunch defender of

Greece's interests.� He is positively disposed towards the

U.S., and he has pressed the Greek military to emulate

American planning, transformation, training, and procurement.

He is suspicious of Russia and resisted efforts to procure

Russian defense articles. He told the U.S. Defense Attach

that he regrets Greece's recent purchase of Russian BMP-3's.

Similarly, he has said he would support providing Greek

forces for Iraq and increase Greek forces in Afghanistan, to

include lifting the regional caveat restricting Greek

personnel to the Kabul region. However, General Grapsas has

little influence on defense policy and procurement decisions.

The Greek constitution places strong restrictions on the

role of military officers in participating in policy

development.

4.� (SBU) Greece has had plenty of high-level NATO visits.

Recently, General Craddock (20-22 July), Admiral Fitzgerald

(2-3 April), Lt Gen McFann (2 July), and LTG Eikenberry (3

July) visited Athens and met with Grapsas. Although the

discussions have been frank, all four visits were cordial

resulting in agreement to continue cooperative dialogue on

NATO issues.� Additionally, the Joint Staff Talks and the

U.S./Greece High Level Consultative Committee (HLCC) will

meet in D.C. October 22 and October 24.

5.� (C) Although the broader U.S./Greece relationship is not

always smooth, the U.S.-Greece military-to-military

relationship is strong, and we believe it pays important

strategic dividends to the national security of the United

ATHENS 00001294� 002.2 OF 003

States.� We can advance our security agenda wit Greece

through General Grapsas' visit and upcoming bilateral

mil-to-mil contacts.

----------

Key Issues

----------

6.� (C) Among the key issues likely to come up are the

following:

-- Macedonia:� At the April NATO Summit, Greece blocked the

invitation of Macedonia into the Alliance -- a top U.S.

priority because of a lack of agreement on changing the

country's name.� We continue to urge both Athens and Skopje

to work rapidly for a solution.� Greek/Macedonian relations

have been soured by a recent tart exchange of letters between

Macedonian PM Gruevski and Greek PM Karamanlis on questions

related to the "Macedonian minority" in Greece.� Ultimately

Athens is insisting on a solution that would:

-- indicate that "Macedonia" is a broader region than the

country in question (hence Greece's support for a geographic

qualifier such as "Northern" or "Upper" before Macedonia),

and

-- be used broadly for all international use.

-- Greece-Turkey:� The Greek/Turkish bilateral relationship

has improved in recent years. The GOG remains supportive of

Turkey's EU accession. There has, however, been no angibe

progress on long-standing diputes over ontinental shelf and

the tatus of islands n the Aegean.� The Greeks are plased

with he momentum on Cyprus, sending psitive signals about

the September 3 start of UN-brokered talks, but strongly

question Ankara's commitment to -- and potential to spoil --

progress on reaching a negotiated solution on Cyprus.

-- Aegean Exercises:� The Greeks were deeply disappointed by

the NATO decision not to support NOBLE ARCHER 2008.� General

Grapsas will want to discuss how NATO might craft an exercise

in the future that would overfly Agios Efstratios, an island

whose status as "demilitarize" is disputed between Greece and

Turkey.� General Grapsas feels that NATO's invocation of

"neutrality" -- which results in a decision not/not to

overfly any area under dispute -- always favors Turkish

interests.� The Greeks argue that the Turkish claim that

Agios Efstratios is demilitarized is specious and not a valid

justification for excluding the island from NATO exercises.

Unlike many of his predecessors, General Grapsas has not gone

to the press.

-- Russia/Georgia: PM Karamanlis has expanded Greece's

relationship with Russia.� This is in no small measure due to

historical and religious ties and strong domestic political

support for strengthening relations. The Russia/Georgia

crisis is a challenge for Greece.� The GOG supports Sarkozy's

efforts, and FM Bakoyannis has said the right things on

Georgian territory integrity and the withdrawal of Russian

troops.� PM Karamanlis has also publicly stated that violence

is not the appropriate response and has emphasized

"territorial integrity."� Greece has pledged two monitors for

the initial OSCE mission in Georgia and already pledged or

delivered well over 469,500 Euros worth of in-kind and

financial humanitarian assistance to Georgia.

At the same time, Greece has pursued "business as usual" with

Russia, with meetings with Russian defense industry officials

and Parliamentary ratification in September of the

Southstream gas pipeline agreement.� The Embassy has pushed

the GoG hard to cancel or delay these ill-advised moves.

Grapsas' visit will provide another opportunity to pass the

message to the Karamanlis government that they need to

actively support Georgia and avoid business as usual with

Russia.

-- Kosovo: Greece does not appear likely to recognize Kosovo

in the immediate future, but is playing a reasonably

constructive role behind the scenes.� Beyond its over 600

forces in KFOR, the Greeks are providing personnel to the EU

Rule of Law Mission (EULEX), the OSCE Mission, and the

International Civilian Office (ICO) in Kosovo.� It has also

been among the most active players in the EU in engaging with

Serbia post-Kosovo independence and in encouraging Serbia's

European and Euro-Atlantic perspective.

ATHENS 00001294� 003.2 OF 003

SPECKHARD

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id: 233386

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refid: 09ATHENS1605

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ATHENS 001605

SIPDIS

AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA

AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO USOFFICE ALMATY

AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF

AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG

AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA

AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG

AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI

AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK

AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/05

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, MASS, GR, AF, TU

SUBJECT: MOD VENIZELOS: POSITIVE SIGNS, BUT SOME TOUGH ISSUES

REF: ATHENS 1563

ATHENS 00001605� 001.2 OF 004

CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1.� (C) SUMMARY: New Minister of Defense Evangelos Venizelos

expressed his commitment to a strong bilateral defense relationship

in the Ambassador's first one-on-one meeting with him November 4.

Well-briefed on Afghanistan, he said Greece would keep its medical

teams (there for the elections support mission) in-country, would

participate with funding for NATO's helicopter initiative, and

would contribute 3-4 million euros to the ANA Trust Fund,� but that

Greece was now leaning toward keeping its engineering battalion in

Kabul vice moving it to Herat as had been pledged.� Venizelos is

closely watching internal USG deliberations on Afghanistan for

signals.� On Turkey, he stated the government seeks to promote a

new climate, but that it was not easy; he reiterated that Greece

has problems with NATO plans to rotate a Greek then a Turk annually

as commander of a NATO air center in Larisa.� He was opaque on

plans to reform Greek procurement, in contrast to his bold

statements before Parliament on October 18.� The Ambassador urged

Venizelos to follow through on Greek commitments to move its Kabul

forces to RC-West; welcomed the other positive steps toward ISAF;

pressed him to be proactive and not reactive in reaching out to

Turkey in the Aegean; commended him on his intentions to bring more

transparency to Greek defense procurement; asked Venizelos to work

personally to break the impasse that would enable the U.S. to begin

construction of an important infrastructure project at Naval

Support Activity Souda Bay; and encouraged him to remove remaining

obstacles to freeing up a Navy site for a mosque in Athens.� END

SUMMARY

2.� (C) In a warm and positive initial meeting with the Ambassador,

MOD Venizelos stressed his commitment to fostering a strong

relationship with the United States.� He expressed his appreciation

for meeting Secretary Gates at the NATO Ministerial in Bratislava

in late October, commending his professionalism and record as

SecDef.� He noted his recent meeting with ASD Vershbow at the

recent Southeastern Europe Defense Ministers meeting in Sofia, and

predicted good working relationships with both. Venizelos stated

that he intended to demonstrate firm civilian control over the

Greek military, and was ready to make decisions on tough issues.

--------------------------------------------- ---

Afghanistan:� Some Good, Some Bad

--------------------------------------------- ---

3.� (C) Ambassador Speckhard noted U.S. hopes that Greece deploy

its pledged OMLT and move its engineering battalion from Kabul to

Herat in western Afghanistan as quickly as possible, and asked

Venizelos for the status, given recent worrying signs that Greece

lacked the proper equipment to enable its troops to fulfill this

commitment.� Venizelos stated that the presence of Afghan refugees

in Greece constituted indirect but "substantial" support for ISAF.

The Ambassador focused him on the fact that increased Greek support

to the mission in Afghanistan and success there would directly

affect refugee flows that have caused so many social problems in

Greece.� Venizelos agreed, but noted that the government has a hard

time selling that point to the Greek public, which sees only Turkey

to blame for allowing the transit of illegal immigrants and

refugees through to Greece.� He stated that he and the Greek

government are closely watching the ongoing U.S. debate on

Afghanistan, and are also concerned about the legitimacy of the

Karzai government and its possible impact on the future political

situation there.� The Ambassador cautioned him not to read too much

from the tea leaves found in the media.� Our engagement in

Afghanistan is solid; our debate is about the size, composition,

and direction of our effort, not about whether or when to get out.

ATHENS 00001605� 002.2 OF 004

4.� (C) Venizelos proceeded to tick off positive Greek

contributions to ISAF, which could be done within the existing MOD

budget.� Greece is ready to take over security at Kabul airport

during the second half of 2010.� Greece will keep the two medical

teams that it had deployed for elections support earlier this

autumn in Afghanistan.� Greece will make a contribution to the

Anglo-French NATO helicopter initiative aimed at addressing NATO's

crucial helicopter shortfall in Afghanistan.� The Greek monetary

contributions to Hungary's PRT in Baglan will continue, and Greece

intends to donate 3-4 million euros to the Afghan National Army

Trust Fund.

5.� (C) On the negative side, Venizelos indicated that budgetary

pressures have placed Greek plans to deploy an OMLT and to move its

engineering battalion from Kabul to Herat in jeopardy.� Given force

protection requirements recently identified by Greek planners,

namely MRAP-type vehicles, anti-IED countermeasures, and armored

road maintenance equipment, Greece needed $65 million it simply did

not have in order to equip and maintain the Kabul-to-Herat

redeployment.� He also said that he was not sure if COMISAF still

wanted the Greek engineers to go to Herat.� The Ambassador urged

Venizelos to follow through on this long-standing Greek commitment,

and made the case that investing in the equipment necessary to

accomplish this deployment would also pay dividends in increasing

the future capability and deployability of the Greek armed forces

beyond Afghanistan.� Venizelos demurred, noting he had not received

the full brief on the technical requirements of the proposed

MRAP-type vehicles, and that in any case, Greek efforts would need

to be coordinated with other European countries.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

----------------------

Turkey:� Support Old CBMs, but Still Want to Go Back on CAOC Deal

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

----------------------

6.� (C) Ambassador Speckhard asked Venizelos to comment on what he

perceived were the threats to Greece, and how the MOD intended to

balance severe budgetary constraints with the need to face those

threats through means including procurement.� Looking at Turkey,

Venizelos confirmed that the Papandreou government is seeking to

promote a new climate, although it was "not easy," he said,

pointing to the dramatic increase in Turkish overflights of Greek

Aegean islands over the summer compared to past years.� The

Ambassador urged him to be proactive in suggesting confidence

building measures to his Turkish counterparts, to allow his

generals to talk freely with their interlocutors, and to stop

labeling unannounced Turkish military flights in the Athens FIR as

"hostile," a small, technical move that could go over well in

Ankara.

7.� (C) Venizelos commented favorably on CBMs in general, but noted

the problem was implementation.� He supported reinstituting past

measures such as the suspension of overflights during the summer,

and on religious holidays.� In response to the Ambassador's

suggestion to stop labeling Turkish flights as hostile, he stated

he would only do that in connection with resolution of the "CAOC

problem," and asked for U.S. help.� (Comment:� In May 2009, NATO

Allies - including Greece - agreed on a plan to close one of NATOs

ATHENS 00001605� 003.2 OF 004

Combined Air Operations Centers, located in Eskisehir, Turkey, and

to implement an annual rotational command of NATO's CAOC in

Larissa, Greece between a Greek and a Turkish general, with

alternating deputies, as well, from the nation not presently in

command.� The U.S. will maintain command of NATO's Component

Command Air HQ (CC Air) in Izmir, Turkey, while the CC Air deputy

will rotate between a Greek and a Turk, and the Chief of Staff will

rotate between a Turk and an Italian.� In Greek eyes, this leads to

a periodic, temporary imbalance of "flags," when no Greek will be

in a top position at CC Air.� End comment.)� The Ambassador noted

he would pass the message back, but that it was his understanding

that Greece had already agreed to the future manning structure of

the CAOC in the NATO framework.

----------------

Procurement

----------------

8.� (C) Despite Venizelos' bold comments before Parliament on

October 18, to include a call for abolishing offsets contracts when

buying foreign (to include U.S.) military equipment, he had no

proposals to offer, though he expressed a commitment to

transparency, and to establishing firm Parliamentary oversight over

procurement processes.� He told the Ambassador that the offsets

issue needed to be "fixed," and that he intended to come up with a

plan over the coming month.� Venizelos stated that the F-16

purchase program was going well, but complained about a problem

with the defensive systems on the Peace Xenia III F-16s, and stated

that U.S. companies need to take more responsibility.� (Comment:

The ASPIS II defensive systems suite was programmed through direct

commercial sale to go on the 60 Peace Xenia III aircraft.� Due to

stalled negotiations between the Greek MOD and Raytheon, none of

the 60 PX-III aircraft have defensive systems installed.� End

comment.)

9.� (C) Ambassador Speckhard commended Venizelos for his commitment

to transparency, and his plans to increase Parliamentary oversight.

He expressed confidence in the ability of U.S. firms to compete in

a transparent environment, noting that such a situation would be

good both for Greece and the U.S.� While empathetic to Venizelos'

desire to change an offsets system in their defense procurement

that had not resulted in the desired outcomes, he encouraged him

not to unfairly penalize U.S. companies who had been unable to

deliver on contractual terms due to GoG policies and practices.

-----------------------------------

Souda Bay Jet Fuel Pipeline

-----------------------------------

10.� (C) Ambassador Speckhard asked Venizelos to cut through the

red tape and to provide the U.S. with written authorization to

proceed with the construction of a JP-5 jet fuel pipeline and fuel

storage tanks that would maintain high-capacity refueling

capabilities and protect the environment at and around our Naval

Support Activity at Souda Bay, Crete.� (Comment: permission to

execute the project has been stuck in the Greek bureaucracy for

nearly seven years, and the MOD at present is not certain whether

or not it needs approval from cautious MFA lawyers to grant this

authorization.)� Venizelos assured the Ambassador he was "ready to

ATHENS 00001605� 004.2 OF 004

solve" this problem.

--------------------

Athens Mosque

--------------------

11. (C) At the close of the meeting, the Ambassador pointed out to

Venizelos our understanding that the construction of a mosque in

Athens (a city that has no official mosque), which was approved by

the Greek Parliament in 2000, is held up in part by the refusal of

the Hellenic Navy to vacate the designated land, and asked him for

his views.� Venizelos, pointing to his background as a professor of

constitutional law and proclaiming human rights to be a passionate

interest, stated that he was unaware of the issue, but assured the

Ambassador he would look into it and he was ready to contribute if

that was a way his Ministry could help.

Speckhard

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 234406

date: 11/12/2009 17:08

refid: 09ATHENS1623

origin: Embassy Athens

classification: SECRET

destination:

header:

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DE RUEHTH #1623/01 3161708

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

O 121708Z NOV 09

FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS

TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1036

EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0022

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 06 ATHENS 001623

SIPDIS

FROM THE AMBASSADOR TO AMB VERSHBOW

AMEMBASSY ANKARA PASS TO AMCONSUL ADANA

AMEMBASSY ASTANA PASS TO USOFFICE ALMATY

AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF

AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG

AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PASS TO AMEMBASSY PODGORICA

AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PASS TO AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG

AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI

AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK

AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/12

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, MASS, NATO, GR, AF, TU

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR ASD VERSHBOW'S VISIT TO GREECE

ATHENS 00001623� 001.2 OF 006

CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (C),

(D)

1.� (C) Welcome to Greece.� Your visit is an important one and

reinforces efforts by recent high-level USG visitors (SACEUR ADM

Stavridis, COMNAVEUR ADM Fitzgerald, PM A/S Shapiro, and CNO ADM

Roughead) to demonstrate to the Greeks that we are serious about

our Alliance and about working with them on global challenges.

Since his election October 4, PM (and FM) George Papandreou has

focused his energies abroad, hoping for quick progress on tough

challenges like the Aegean, Cyprus, and the Macedonia name issue.

Yet Greece's dire economic situation will soon catch up to him, and

limit his hand.� U.S.-Greek military-to-military cooperation is

good, particularly at the U.S. Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay

on Crete, which plays a key role in supporting U.S. military

operations in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, including

Iraq and Afghanistan.� Greece is also among the largest purchasers

of U.S. military equipment.� At the same time, Greece's

participation in NATO is politically sensitive, and it has provided

only limited contributions to key theatres such as Afghanistan.

While Greeks have affection for Americans in general owing to

immigration links and the Marshall Plan, significant percentages

have felt at deep odds with U.S. foreign policy.� However,

President Obama's election has created a new opening to improve and

permanently alter Greek views of the U.S.

2.� (C) Your participation in the High Level Consultative Committee

(HLCC) and your bilateral meetings with MOD Venizelos and MFA

officials can help move Greek positions on a range of important

issues. I recommend that you encourage your interlocutors to:

-- live up to the commitment the previous government made to

President Obama to enhance their Afghanistan contributions;

-- work vigorously to find a solution to the Macedonia name issue

that would allow Macedonia to join NATO and the EU and strengthen

stability in Greece's neighborhood.

-- continue to support Turkey's EU orientation;

-- seek to foster goodwill in the Aegean, despite passionately held

views and frustrations;

-- keep an open mind and support us as we move forward on our

Phased Adaptive Approach to European ballistic missile defense; and

-- continue their efforts and look for ways to expand cooperation

on counter-piracy and non-proliferation.

---------------------

Political Overview

---------------------

3. (C) Since his election October 4, PM (and FM) George Papandreou

has focused his energies abroad to a large extent, hoping for quick

progress on tough challenges like the Aegean, Cyprus, and the

Macedonia name issue.� Yet Greece's dire economic situation will

force him to spend more time on domestic issues in the

not-too-distant future.� The EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner

recently noted that Greece's budget deficit this year is set to be

12.7 percent of GDP (with an EU limit being 3 percent), criticized

Greek economic data submitted to the Commission as "completely

wrong," and stated that the challenges facing Greece are "high" and

"a question of common concern for the whole euro area."� Greece

ATHENS 00001623� 002.2 OF 006

will eventually have to pay the Euro-zone piper, and Papandreou

will have to make some extremely difficult - and politically

unpopular - economic decisions at home to avoid EU sanctions and

penalties.� The budgetary restraints have already been reflected in

the draft FY2010 defense budget, which contains some 500 million

euros worth of cuts.

4.� (C)� New PM (and Foreign Minister) Papandreou has an American

mother, has lived and studied in the U.S., and having been Foreign

Minister under a previous PASOK administration, developed a good

reputation in the international community as a thoughtful and

constructive interlocutor.� While he must use careful rhetoric

domestically to avoid the "Amerikanaki" (little American) label by

detractors, our recent engagements with him have been positive.

------

ISAF

------

5.� (C) MOD Venizelos is feeling the heat both domestically and

within NATO, and we should keep the pressure on.� The prior

government committed to President Obama to expand Greece's ISAF

effort, by deploying its previously caveat-bound Kabul engineering

battalion out to RC-West, standing up a 17-person OMLT in Jan/Feb

2010, and taking control of the Kabul airport in April 2010.� Greek

planners recently identified force protection concerns, which

present both procurement and budgetary challenges.� Venizelos

recently told the Ambassador the deployment would cost 65 million

euros which were not in the Greek budget.� Additionally, the

Ministry has requested from the U.S. at reduced cost, leasing, or

grant 32 MRAP-type vehicles, 52 anti-IED ECM devices, and a host of

other equipment including armored dump trucks and bulldozers.

Compounding the issue is the fact that Greek participation in ISAF

remains unpopular with the Greek population at large, and any

casualties - particularly those that could be attributed to

inadequate force protection measures - could result in extreme

pressure on the government to remove its forces from ISAF.� In an

encouraging sign, the Minister did tell the Ambassador that Greece

would contribute 3-4 million euros to the ANA Trust Fund and would

keep medical assets, there for elections support, deployed with

Germany in RC-North for the future.

6.� (C) The new government is likely to decide on the RC-West

deployment soon.� They are keenly watching our review in

Washington, and will be interested in your reassurance as to our

future plans in Afghanistan.� We stand to make progress on this

issue if you can assure your interlocutors of continuing U.S.

commitment, our expectation that Allies increase their efforts, and

our willingness to either help them deploy to RC-West, or to work

with them bilaterally and at NATO to develop an alternate

deployment that would fill an important ISAF CJSOR need for which

they are presently equipped and could deploy quickly.

---------

Balkans

---------

ATHENS 00001623� 003.2 OF 006

7.� (C) PM Papandreou has launched an initiative calling for full

integration of the Balkans into European institutions by 2014.� He

has reached out to his Macedonian counterpart, and the Greeks have

consistently told us they are willing to compromise on the

Macedonia name issue as long as the formula is consistent with the

bipartisan agreement in Greece about how far they can go.� Greek

red lines include an insistence on "erga omnes" use internationally

of a new name with a geographic modifier.� This controversy remains

emotionally and politically salient for many Greeks.� We are

pressing Greece to work to avoid a hard landing or "veto" of the

opening of Macedonia's EU accession talks at the December 10

European Council meeting.

8.� (SBU) In other parts of the Balkans, while Greece continues its

non-recognition of Kosovo, it maintains two mechanized infantry

battalions (roughly 600 soldiers) in NATO's KFOR, and is providing

personnel and support to the EU's "Rule of Law Mission" there.� We

welcome Greece's ongoing efforts to urge Serbia to take a

forward-looking approach to its future in the European and

Euro-Atlantic community.� In Bosnia, Greece participated in NATO's

SFOR operation until its successful conclusion in December 2005.

Greece maintains approximately 45 soldiers in the EU's follow-on

"Althea" security and stability mission.

--------------------------------------------- -----

Turkey: EU Accession and Aegean Issues

--------------------------------------------- -----

9.� (C) The Papandreou government continues its predecessor's

support for the accession of Turkey to the EU, but has told us that

they will not give a "blank check" to Turkey unless they see

satisfactory progress on key bilateral issues and Cyprus.� PM

Papandreou told the Ambassador he hopes to make quick progress on

improving Greek-Turkish relations, and while he would not

compromise on sovereignty issues, would be willing to settle other

differences with Turkey at the ICJ in The Hague.� Papandreou is

proud of his record of cooperation with Turkey during his tenure as

Foreign Minister (1999-2004), and took a bold first step in his

first days in office by traveling to Istanbul - ostensibly for a

Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial conference - during which

he met bilaterally with Turkish PM Erdogan.� Erdogan reciprocated

this month with a note to Papandreou, to which the PM has yet to

reply.� Turkish EU accession negotiator Egemen Bagis visited Athens

on November 5, during which he met with PM Papandreou, Alternate FM

Droutsas, and gave a speech at a prominent think tank.

10.� (C) Greece and Turkey still differ on a host of Aegean issues,

including air/seaspace demarcation, economic zones,

demilitarization issues, flight safety requirements, and

immigration.� During the HLCC you will hear Greek complaints of

unannounced Turkish military flights into the Athens Flight

Information Region (FIR), both inside the Greeks' claimed 10

nautical mile airspace boundary (which the U.S. does not recognize,

because of the disparity with their six nautical mile territorial

sea claim), as well as within the internationally recognized six

nautical mile limits.� To the chagrin of Turkey, Greece "tags" as

hostile unannounced Turkish military flights in the Athens FIR, and

Greek F-16s routinely intercept such Turkish aircraft.� Armed,

low-level Turkish overflights of the inhabited Greek islands of

Agathonisi and Farmakonisi dramatically increased in 2009 compared

to prior years, though the Greeks told us that the Turks suspended

ATHENS 00001623� 004.2 OF 006

these flights from September 7 until November 2.� Both countries

have in the past attempted to use NATO exercises to press claims or

to make points.� In your meetings, we recommend taking an overall

strategic approach that emphasizes mutual respect, confidence

building measures, and safety of flight with both countries, while

encouraging the Greeks to be proactive in offering confidence

building measures.� Suggesting that they should stop labeling

unannounced Turkish flights into the Athens FIR as hostile would be

a good step, consistent with what NATO has been encouraging in the

past.

------------------

Missile Defense

------------------

11.� (C) Greek officials viewed the September recalibration of U.S.

missile defense plans positively.� Most media, though, portrayed

the step as a concession to Russia.� Press reports here have also

speculated about Turkey's role in future missile defense plans, and

intentions for the U.S. to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey.

Government interlocutors have shown interest, as well.� We are

aware of ongoing U.S. talks with Turkey over its potential role in

the PAA, and their sensitivity.� Your meetings here, though, can do

much to help the Greek government understand where southeastern

Europe and the Med fit into the PAA.� We believe that our senior

Greek interlocutors do understand the threat from Iran and the

potentially important role Turkey can play.� Proactive engagement

can help us keep the Greek government informed and on our side, and

help them help us as they manage their domestic politics and media

environment.

--------------------------------------------

Counter-Piracy and Non-Proliferation

--------------------------------------------

12.� (C) We share many views with the Greeks on piracy; this is an

issue where we can maintain a robust and fruitful dialogue.� Greece

served as the flagship command of the EU's first ever naval

operation, Atalanta, off of Somalia last year, has a frigate now in

Atalanta's current rotation, and participated in NATO's Ocean

Shield through its rotational contribution to NATO's Standing Naval

Maritime Group 2.� Senior Greek Navy officials have told us,

though, they will draw down in the Gulf of Aden if Turkey does in

order to maintain a "balance" in the Aegean.� Greece is no longer

in Ocean Shield, as SNMG-1 has taken over command of the operation.

We would like to see a continued Greek presence in NATO

counter-piracy efforts, given Greece's prominent role in

international shipping.

13.� (C) On non-proliferation, we have had good practical

cooperation with Greek authorities and shipowners.� In the last two

years they have allowed several boardings that uncovered sanctioned

materials on their way to North Korea and Iran.� Bilateral

negotiations have frozen regarding a formal Shipboarding Agreement

in the Proliferation Security Initiative framework, yet

non-proliferation remains an area for overall strong cooperation

with the new Greek government.

ATHENS 00001623� 005.2 OF 006

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

Bilateral Defense Relations: Souda Bay and Procurement

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

14.� (C) We have made a sustained high-level push over the past

months with the MOD and MFA to get leaders to cut through the red

tape and to provide the U.S. with written authorization to proceed

with the construction of a badly needed new jet fuel pipeline and

fuel storage tanks that would replace a decaying old pipeline that

runs through an inhabited area, maintain high-capacity refueling

capabilities and protect the environment at and around our Naval

Support Activity at Souda Bay, Crete.� Permission to execute the

project has been stuck in the Greek bureaucracy for nearly seven

years, and the MOD at present is not certain whether or not it

needs approval from cautious MFA lawyers to grant this

authorization.� The Ambassador recently raised this issue with MOD

Venizelos, who assured the Ambassador he was "ready to solve" this

problem. Your follow up at the HLCC and bilaterally will be

valuable; your message should be that we want to spend $32 million

on the Cretan economy to upgrade our strategic relationship,

safeguard the environment, and keep Souda a key facility for

Greece, the U.S., and NATO.� Continued delay threatens the

Congressional funding, and increases risk.

15.� (C) Greece is a large purchaser of U.S. defense goods.� We

have over $8 billion in FMS cases and there is potential for more

than $6 billion coming up for international competition over the

next two years, though Greek budget difficulties may hamper that.

MOD Venizelos complained to the Ambassador on November 4 about a

problem with the defensive systems on the Peace Xenia III F-16s,

and stated that U.S. companies need to take more responsibility.

The ASPIS II defensive systems suite was programmed through direct

commercial sale to go on the 60 Peace Xenia III aircraft.� Due to

stalled negotiations between the Greek MOD and Raytheon, none of

the 60 PX-III aircraft have defensive systems installed.� (Comment:

This means that many of Greece's Aegean intercept sorties are being

flown by aircraft with no/no defensive countermeasures.� End

comment.)

16.� (C) More broadly, we need to reinforce the new Papandreou

administration's effort to bring transparency and fair competition

into their procurement processes.� Greek national security as well

as U.S. defense companies have suffered in the past when decisions

were made based on political factors.� In some instances, Greek

readiness and interoperability have been degraded.� The Ambassador

has argued to interlocutors that U.S. companies will do well if the

new government simply pursues what is good for the Greek taxpayer

and Greece's own national security, as we believe U.S. defense

products can stand on their own in a free market and fair

competition.

--------------

Other Issues

--------------

17.� (C) OTHER MILITARY CONTRIBUTIONS:�� Greek contributions to

ATHENS 00001623� 006.2 OF 006

other important initiatives are substantial and should not be

overlooked.� The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force rely heavily on Naval

Support Activity Souda Bay in Crete as a support hub for sea and

air operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

(Comment: Although it is fine to thank them privately during

meetings, Greek public sentiment is generally anti-NATO, and

anti-American military, so the help Greece gives us at Souda Bay

and with frequent transshipments of ammunition are subjects they

would like to keep private avoiding any public acknowledgments.)

Greece allows over 24,000 over-flights of U.S. military aircraft a

year; participates in NATO's Operations Active Endeavour; the EU's

counter-piracy mission off of Somalia Operation Atalanta; and the

UN's Lebanon mission, UNIFIL.

18.� (C) IMMIGRATION:� You will hear about this from your

interlocutors.� Greece has become an entry point of choice for

illegal immigrants into the European Union.� The number of illegal

migrants detained by Greek authorities has increased dramatically

over the last two years, reaching 140,000 last year (in a country

with a population of only about 11 million).� The presence of these

migrants - many of whom originated in conflict zones in

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East and entered Greece via

Turkey - has become a major political issue.� It also roils

Greek-Turkish relations on occasion, with the Greeks leveling

accusations that Turkey does not do enough to stop the outflow to

Greece, and indeed, aids and abets the illegal immigrants.� Greece

is making a strong push for the European Union to take this issue

on and to negotiate repatriation agreements with source countries

such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.� The EU's border security agency,

Frontex, has its largest operation on Greek territory, which has

caused irritation to Turkey at times.

19.� (S) TERRORISM:� You should also be aware that Greece has been

burdened with a resurgence of domestic terrorism.� Following

several years of a lull with the wrap-up of the November 17 group,

attacks by new groups have sharply increased.� On October 27, Greek

terrorists opened fire on a police station and fled the scene,

wounding six officers, two seriously.� An ammonium nitrate car bomb

was detonated at the Athens Stock Exchange on September 2 this

year, causing significant material damage, and a police officer was

murdered in June.� The U.S. Embassy suffered an RPG attack in

January of 2007.� The U.S. has been offering technical assistance

and sharing intelligence through DHS, FBI, and other agencies, but

the Greeks are woefully unprepared for any significant increase in

terrorist activity.� We are also concerned that the rise of Greece

as a migration path from troubled spots to Western Europe and

vice-versa opens the door to international extremists making a

foothold here or using Greece as a "safe house" for planning

nefarious activities.

20.� (U) We are very much looking forward to your visit and hosting

you here in Athens.

Speckhard

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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