Viewing cable 05BRUSSELS3534

05BRUSSELS35342005-09-28 12:29:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brussels
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2015 
¶1.  (C) Summary.  The major outcome of the October 4 
EU-Russia London summit is likely to be a Readmission Accord 
committing Russia to take back failed asylum seekers and 
other irregular migrants.  In exchange, the EU will ease visa 
requirements on diplomats and other categories of Russians. 
Unlike recent summits, where Russia refused to discuss its 
"near abroad," the sides will exchange views on Chechnya, 
Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia and Uzbekistan.  On the 
eve of the summit, an EU-Russia Energy Ministerial Troika 
will take place, highlighting this important sector. 
Russia's new envoy to the EU, former DFM Chizhov, has shaken 
up staff at his mission and delights in needling the EU.  In 
recent discussions, EU officials said relations with Russia 
are "stabilizing" in the wake of EU and NATO enlargement, and 
shared their views on Putin, Lavrov, Yastrezhembski, and 
Chizhov.  End Summary. 
Summit Deliverables:  Readmission Agreement and Visa 
¶2. (C)  The major deliverable the EU foresees at its October 
4 London summit with Moscow is Russian agreement to sign a 
Readmission Agreement in exchange for an EU offer to 
facilitate visas for some categories of Russian visitors. 
The Readmission Agreement, the text of which was negotiated 
several months ago, would commit Russia to take back failed 
asylum seekers and other irregular migrants who enter the EU 
from Russia.  At present, Russia refuses to accept 
responsibility for these persons, many of whom are 
non-Russians who simply transit Russia to reach the EU. 
Signing has been hung up on two issues.  Initially, Russia 
insisted that either the agreement apply only to Russian 
citizens, or that Russia must first sign its own readmission 
agreements with the third countries whose citizens transit 
Russia en route to the EU.  Russia has also insisted on 
linking a Readmission Agreement to an EU decision to offer, 
or begin negotiating, visa-free access for Russians to enter 
the EU.  Russia's quest for visa-free access is an outgrowth 
of EU enlargement when it arose during the delicate 
negotiations over Russian access to the Kaliningrad enclave. 
¶3.  (C)  During EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and 
Security Franco Frattini's recent visit to Moscow, according 
to Council and Commission officials, Russia agreed to include 
third country nationals in the Readmission Agreement.  In 
return, Frattini proposed that the EU might introduce some 
initial easing of visa restrictions on Russians traveling to 
Europe.  Currently, some non-Schengen EU members (e.g. 
Poland) allow Russian diplomats visa-free entry, and Brussels 
is now thinking of extending this gesture throughout the 
Schengen area.  Given the past history of Russian diplomatic 
espionage, however, this measure is somewhat controversial, 
according to Stefan Lehne, head of the Russia unit at the 
Council Secretariat.  Another option under consideration is 
to permit multiple entry visas for certain categories of 
Russian visitors.  As one EU official put it, "Free visas we 
can do; but visa-free is altogether different."  The precise 
set of steps the EU will offer Russia is still under review, 
and may not be decided until EU Foreign Ministers meet 
October 3. 
¶4.  (C)  Assuming the EU can agree a visa facilitation 
package, it is still not clear that the Readmission Agreement 
will be signed in London.  The EU and Russia may instead 
simply announce their agreement to sign. 
EU-Russia Relations:  Stabilizing after Enlargement 
¶5.  (C)  According to Michael Leigh, the Commission's Deputy 
DG for Eurasia and the Middle East, the UK Presidency is 
approaching the Russia summit with a "sober view;" this will 
not be a "decisive" summit.  Rather, with agreement reached 
at last May's summit on the text of four "Common Spaces," the 
EU is focusing on implementation of these texts.  That means 
prioritizing the dozens of issues that the sides have agreed 
to pursue in each of the four areas:  External Security; 
Freedom, Security and Justice; Economics; and Research, 
Education and Culture.  No great breakthroughs are foreseen 
by Leigh at the upcoming summit.  At the Council Secretariat, 
Russia desk officer Carl Hallergard agreed, but added some 
context.  He said that the fact that EU-Russia relations are 
stabilizing is in and of itself a great achievement.  It 
means Russia has accepted EU and NATO enlargement, and is in 
the process of defining its relations with Europe on that 
basis.  The recent flap over border treaties with the Baltic 
states remains a sore point in the relationship, and Russia 
will raise concerns about this at the summit, but Russia has 
toned down its rhetoric and seems prepared to engage with the 
Near Abroad:  No Longer Taboo 
¶6.  (C)  According to Solana's Policy Planning Chief, 
Christoph Heusgen, and Heusgen's deputy for the CIS, Jukke 
Leskala, the taboo that Russia initially placed on discussing 
the near abroad following EU enlargement is gone.  According 
to Michael Leigh, the summit language being drafted includes 
references to developments in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. 
In a recent meeting with Russia' new Ambassador to the EU 
Chizhov (see below), Leskala said the EU had a good 
discussion on Georgia, including a frank exchange on South 
Ossetia.  "We've seen movement on the Russian side," he said, 
even on discussing Chechnya.  Heusgen said he was "shocked" 
at last May's Moscow summit by how backward-looking the whole 
Russian team was.  Now, he said, Russia admits that it has a 
problem in the North Caucasus.  It prefers to describe the 
region as being in a post-conflict phase, and seeks EU help 
with "reconstruction" vs. assistance to a conflict region, as 
the EU sees it.  Nevertheless, Russia has accepted an EU 
offer of 20 million Euros in technical assistance for the 
North Caucasus, in addition to its ongoing humanitarian 
assistance for Chechnya. 
Economic Update:  Siberian Overflights 
¶7.  (C)  Despite the progress being made on the political 
dialogue, and agreement to hold an EU-Russia Energy 
Minister's Troika on the eve of the London Summit, the 
longstanding dispute over Siberian overflights remains 
unresolved.  At issue, according to Hallergard, are some $150 
million a year in fees paid to Aeroflot by European airlines 
overflying Siberia.  The EU and Russia have concluded an 
agreement to "modernize" (i.e. reduce) these fees by 2013. 
The EU expected to see relief begin now and be phased in 
gradually through 2013.  Russia, however, seems intent on 
maintaining the current fees until 2013.  When EU frustration 
led to raising the issue with Putin at the May summit, 
according to Hallergard, Putin simply said, "But this issue 
is resolved; we have an agreement," and refused to engage. 
Hallergard added that it doesn't help that Putin's aide, 
Viktor Ivanov, is chairman of Aeroflot. 
Beyond 2007: What Next? 
¶8.  (C)  One issue in the background of the upcoming summit 
is the future framework of EU-Russian relations.  The 1997 
Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) is due to expire 
in 2007, and Russia has indicated it does not seek to renew 
it.  The EU agrees that the PCA is outdated, but it is not 
clear what should replace it.  The Russians have talked of a 
"Swiss" model, in which individual sectoral agreements will 
define the relationship, rather than having an overarching 
treaty governing EU-Russian ties.  (Switzerland has separate 
agreements with the EU in seven sectors, including free 
movement of persons, air transport, trade in agricultural 
products, etc.)  Under such an arrangement, the EU and Russia 
could implement their four common spaces through multiple 
sectoral agreements.  This is not likely to be a major topic 
at the summit, but there may be some discussion on the 
margins about the future structure of EU-Russia relations. 
Russian Ambassador shakes things up 
¶9.  (C) The big news in Brussels about EU-Russian relations 
is the recent and long-awaited arrival of Vladimir Chizhoz as 
Ambassador to the EU.  The post has been vacant for a year 
and a half, since Mikhail Fradkov left Brussels in March, 
2004 to become Putin's Prime Minister.  According to Pirkka 
Tapiola, who covers CIS issues at the Council Secretariat, 
Chizhov has browbeat his staff, who had grown accustomed to 
their more relaxed Charge (Mikhail Petrakov).  Now, Tapiola 
said, the Russian diplomats are minding their p's and q's, 
and lavishly greeting Chizhov as "Your Excellency" and asking 
how his wife, children and dog are doing each day. 
¶10.  (C)  When asked recently about Chizhov, Christoph 
Heusgen rolled his eyes and told visiting EUR DAS David 
Kramer, "He's a nightmare.  I know him all too well.  On the 
surface, he's a nice guy."  Heusgen added, however, that in 
recent talks with the EU in London, "you could see how much 
he loved to needle the Baltic states and lecture them" over 
the border agreements issue.  Heusgen said he had had a long 
conversation about Chizhov with Putin aide Sergei 
Yastrezhemski on the margins of last May's summit. 
Yastrezhemski told Heusgen that Chizhov (at the time head of 
EU affairs at MFA) saw EU-Russian relations in zero-sum 
terms, and did not want to build a constructive, working 
relationship with Europe: "he wants to find weaknesses in the 
EU Policy Planning Chief on key Russian players 
¶11.  (C) In addition to commenting on Chizhov, Heusgen 
offered the following insights into other key Russian 
--  Yastrezhemski:  He's "ready to work with the EU." 
Heusgen finds him easy to talk to -- "he has an Italian wife." 
--  FM Lavrov:  Gaining power; the Foreign Ministry was able 
to influence the Presidency to cancel a meeting the EU tried 
to set up in July to brief Yastrezhemski on the EU's plans 
for a border monitoring mission in Moldova.  (Ironically, 
Chizhov subsequently chided Heusgen for not being 
"transparent" about that mission.)  Heusgen added, "Solana 
doesn't share this view.  He sees Lavrov as a civil servant 
-- and a pain -- but not that influential with the Kremlin." 
According to Stefan Lehne, the EU's September 5 ministerial 
in London was a "lovefest," but Lavrov "can turn it on and 
--  Putin:  Comes across as genuine, someone you can do 
business with.  But he's not a democrat.  He seems to be 
thinking, "I tried a market economy, and got Khodorkovsky and 
the oligarchs, so I've stopped that.  I tried democracy, and 
the governors became corrupt and out of control and the media 
started to tell lies, so I've stopped that."  From Putin's 
perspective, Lukashenko would seem to have a "perfect" 
arrangement.  Russia has no democratic tradition, Heusgen 
noted, and the West needs to find a way to say that we 
understand that.  Maybe we should promote "political 
pluralism" instead of "Democracy."  If Putin can't achieve 
the ideal of democracy, we should think about what is doable 
in practical terms that would move Russia in the right