Viewing cable 05VILNIUS376

05VILNIUS3762005-04-11 10:54:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 000376 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2010 
Classified By: Ambassador Steve Mull; Reason 1.4(d) 
This is a joint message from Embassies Riga, Tallinn and 
¶1.  (C) President Bush's meeting with the three Baltic 
presidents in Riga May 7 presents an extraordinary 
opportunity to tighten our alliance with America's best 
friends in Europe and patch their fraying unity in advancing 
U.S. interests.  At the summit, we should aim to: 
--Acknowledge the three's staunch support in fighting the war 
on terrorism and supporting the growth of democracy from 
Belarus through Iraq to Afghanistan (and offer, if available, 
additional military assistance in carrying out that fight); 
--Defuse tensions over their differences on the May 9 events 
in Moscow by expressing understanding for each; 
--Urge a constructive, forward-looking approach to relations 
with Russia; 
--Promote the three's cooperation in exporting democracy to 
the former Soviet Union and beyond, charting their energy 
strategies, increasing economic cooperation, and battling 
transnational threats in crime and health; and 
--Reiterate our support for the visa waiver roadmap process 
for all three. 
End Summary. 
America's Best Friends 
¶2.  (C) President Bush's decision to hold a summit meeting 
with his Baltic counterparts during his visit to Riga May 7 
could not come at a better time.  Recent tensions over 
whether to attend WWII commemorative ceremonies in Moscow 
have exacerbated destructive strains in each country's 
relationship with Moscow, while fraying unity among the 
three.  Important parliamentary votes on future commitments 
to U.S. operations in Afghanistan and/or Iraq loom in each. 
And each has signaled a willingness to work closely with us 
as they become more outspoken in the European Union councils 
on issues of common interest. 
¶3.  (C) The Balts' occasional fractiousness and heightened 
sensitivity to Russia may have grabbed recent headlines, but 
neither feature detracts from their warm and strong alliance 
with the United States.  Their leaders have steadfastly vowed 
to remain as long as necessary in Iraq.  They have been 
strong supporters of continuing the EU's arms embargo on 
China, energizing greater support to democrats in the former 
Soviet Union, ending Sudan's civil war, and promoting human 
rights in Cuba.  Each enthusiastically welcomes increased 
U.S. investment, which has found a small but profitable home 
in the region. 
¶4.  (C) Our principal challenge at the summit is to calm 
recent tensions that have emerged in the three's relations 
with Russia and with each other; tensions that, if left 
unchecked, could begin to imperil their strong support for 
U.S. global interests, invite internal political instability, 
and distract from our important agenda with Russia. 
President Bush can achieve this task because of the unique 
esteem and affection he enjoys among all three ) no one on 
the world stage today carries greater weight and influence on 
these three leaders.  We recommend the President concentrate 
on five key themes at the summit: 
Gratitude for Support 
¶5.  (C) The Balts have been unshakable U.S. allies in 
advancing our most important global interests. Together, they 
have 251 troops on the ground in Iraq, and their parliaments 
are now at various stages of considering extension of their 
missions.  Lithuania recently volunteered to lead NATO's 
arguably most challenging Afghan Provincial Reconstruction 
Team in Ghowr Province, for which Latvia has indicated 
tentative support, while the Estonians will support a British 
unit.  The three have been stalwart allies in international 
organization, intelligence and law enforcement cooperation in 
the war against terrorism.  In parallel, they have promoted 
the growth of freedom by supporting democrats across the 
former Soviet empire, most notably in Belarus, Ukraine and 
the South Caucasus.  Gratitude from President Bush, both in 
his meetings and press appearances -- particularly if he is 
able to offer supplemental military assistance in bearing the 
costs of the operations -- would go far in cementing this 
continued valuable support of the U.S. global agenda. 
Soothing May 9 Tensions 
¶6.  (C) The Balts' different responses to Russia's 
invitations to WWII commemorative ceremonies in Moscow have 
brought destructive strains to the fore in relations with 
Moscow and with each other.  Adamkus has bitterly complained 
in private that by going to Moscow, Vike-Freiberga has 
shattered Baltic unity and is attempting to cast Latvia as 
the Baltic leader.  Vike-Freiberga's criticism of Russia in 
explaining her decision to attend provoked sharp Russian 
resentment.  Russia's Ambassador to Lithuania unleashed a 
domestic firestorm by attacking Lithuanians as "dirty 
scandal-mongers" and circulating disinformation that 
Lithuania is blocking Kaliningrad orphans from joining their 
adoptive Russian families.  Meanwhile, Lithuania launched a 
crude campaign to move the venue of the proposed summit from 
Riga to Tallinn, to avoid creating an impression that the 
U.S. endorsed Latvia's approach to Russia. 
¶7.  (C) The anniversary of the Soviet Union's illegal 
annexation of the Baltic States is rightfully a painful one 
for all three.  But each needs to approach it on the basis of 
its own interests, and respect the decision of the others. 
We recommend that President Bush defuse the demands to take a 
side on the issue by emphasizing our respect and support for 
each of the three decisions as in keeping with each country's 
interests; and by urging the three privately to remove it as 
a source of division. 
A Constructive Relationship with Russia 
¶8.  (C) The May 9 fracas distracted the Balts from pursuing 
their common interest of establishing a constructive 
relationship with Russia.  Once removing the anniversary as a 
source of discord, we recommend President Bush urge the three 
Presidents to redouble their efforts in promoting that common 
interest.  Specifically, the President should: 
--reiterate the ironclad guarantees that the NATO alliance 
provides for the security of all three in their relations 
with Russia; 
--encourage the three to continue their progressive efforts 
to respect ethnic minority rights; 
--urge their measured responses to the occasional political 
volatility and provocations emanating from Russia as we 
continue to encourage the strengthening of its democracy; and 
--praise the Balts' constructive political-military 
cooperation with Russia, for example in recent successful 
Vienna Document inspections. 
Baltic Unity 
¶9.  (C) The Balts are among Europe's smallest states, but 
together, their common values and ambitious foreign policies 
can magnify their supportive contributions to America's most 
important foreign policy interests.  We recommend President 
Bush urge the three Baltic leaders to tighten their 
cooperation in a range of fields: 
--Exporting Democracy:  The Balts, as the most successful 
former Soviet republics, have special appeal to the rest of 
the former Soviet Union, and all three provide various 
assistance to them.  President Bush should encourage their 
intensified cooperation, at least in parallel if not 
together, throughout the region, especially in neighboring 
Belarus.  Further, the President should encourage their 
already successful efforts in support of democracy beyond the 
region, such as Lithuania's efforts to lead the Provincial 
Reconstruction Team in Ghowr Province in Afghanistan. 
--Energy:  NATO and EU membership accomplished the three's de 
jure integration with Europe overnight, but their nearly 
complete dependence on Russia for energy supplies will limit 
their de facto integration for the foreseeable future.  We 
should encourage their common efforts to establish alternate 
energy supplies without endangering a mutually beneficial 
arrangement with their Russian suppliers.  For example, a 
lingering border dispute between Lithuania and Latvia, which 
their Economic Ministers recently recommitted to resolve, 
stands in the way of moving ahead on long-standing interests 
in further oil exploration in the Baltic. 
--Economics/Business:  The explosive economic growth all 
three have enjoyed in the past five years will require 
substantial foreign investment to continue; an opportunity 
that could benefit U.S. business.  President Bush should 
encourage the three to intensify their cooperation among 
themselves and with us in attracting further American 
investment through pro-growth policies, building on the 
success of the two recent U.S.-Baltic investment conferences 
in London and Washington.  As with democracy, the Balts lead 
the way in the former Soviet Union on economic reform.  We 
should encourage them to share their experiences in 
implementing capitalism with other former Soviet republics, 
jointly and separately. 
--Trans-National Problems:  The Balts should continue to 
develop their cooperation in combating such transnational 
threats as HIV/AIDS, trafficking in persons and corruption. 
Visa Waiver Roadmap 
¶10.  (C) The only irritant in our otherwise rosy bilateral 
relationships is our policy to require visas from Baltic 
travelers to visit their families in the United States, 
particularly in light of strong Baltic support for U.S. 
global objectives.  Most Baltic officials acknowledge the 
practical difficulties of exempting their nationals from our 
visa requirements, but are nevertheless eager to show their 
constituents they are working the issue.  Public opinion here 
enthusiastically greeted President Bush's announcement of 
support for the visa waiver roadmap process in February.  We 
recommend he publicly reiterate his support for the process 
in the Baltic states as a means of winning substantial 
goodwill and continued support for U.S. policies.