Viewing cable 06VILNIUS279

06VILNIUS2792006-03-17 14:27:00 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 000279 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2016 
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Alexander Titolo for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (C) SUMMARY: EUR DAS David Kramer participated in an 
informal meeting on Belarus with EU officials and 
representatives from EU capitals March 14 in Vilnius.  The 
participants agreed that the USG and the EU will coordinate 
their statements and actions in the immediate post-election 
period.  EU officials welcomed Kramer's message that all must 
maintain a commitment to democracy and civil society in 
Belarus in the long term, regardless of the outcome of the 
election.  The importance of continuing to engage Russia on 
Belarus also resonated around the table.  Kramer and GOL 
foreign policy leaders focused on Belarus and on the road 
ahead in Ukraine in their bilateral discussions.  Kramer 
stressed the importance of urging Ukraine to increase 
transparency regarding the recent gas deal, to fight 
corruption, and to remain mindful that NATO is a 
performance-based institution.  END SUMMARY. 
USG and EU Coordinate Belarus Policy 
¶2.  (C) Representatives from EU countries agreed with DAS 
Kramer that the Government of Belarus should hear a clear and 
closely coordinated U.S.-EU message in the immediate 
post-election period.  All EU participants concurred that EU 
foreign ministers convening on March 20 should issue a joint 
statement on Belarus in advance of the announcement of 
findings of the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission.  French 
representative Aurelia Bouchez, Head of the MFA's Eastern 
Europe Directorate, suggested that the statement focus on the 
regime's actions during the campaign.  The statement, she 
offered, should include the following points: 
-- the EU is considering further restrictive measures based 
on the regime's actions during the campaign; 
-- the EU will continue to support civil society in Belarus; 
-- close US-EU coordination on Belarus will continue; and 
-- the EU will seek to continue its dialogue with Russia on 
This outline received broad support from the attendees. 
¶3.  (C) Germany's representative, Ambassador-at-large Norbert 
Baas, proposed that the EU prepare to issue a series of quick 
declarations during the vote count.  Baas suggested that the 
March 20 statement come from the EU presidency, with a tough 
statement from the Council following on March 23 when more 
details of the election and ODIHR's appraisal of it emerge. 
Kramer encouraged flexibility, since the situation following 
election day is likely to be very fluid.  The United States 
and the EU must be prepared to condemn strongly and 
immediately any acts of violence that the regime in Minsk 
might perpetrate, he said, and we should be especially wary 
at this time of sending inadvertent messages by opening up 
new lines of communication. 
Tightening Restrictive Measures 
¶4.  (C) The participants agreed that the United States and 
the EU will likely expand the visa ban to some extent in the 
aftermath of the elections.  Vilmars Henins, Director of 
Latvia's First Bilateral Relations Department, whose Embassy 
in Minsk serves as the representative of the EU presidency in 
Belarus, said that by the end of March his government will 
have compiled names for possible inclusion on the visa ban 
list.  Kramer acknowledged a lack of consensus on the number 
of individuals on whom the USG and the EU should impose 
travel restrictions.  He stressed, however, that the message 
that emerges from the meeting should be that the United 
States and EU plan to expand the list and will make the names 
public after the elections. 
¶5.  (C) Kramer stated that the USG is eager to hear its EU 
partners' thoughts on targeted financial measures against the 
regime and seizures of assets of its leaders.  Some 
participants said they are wary of economic sanctions, 
fearing that they could hurt the Belarusian people.  Kramer 
stated that the USG would seek to target the regime with such 
actions, and expressed full agreement on the need not to make 
life more difficult for the people of Belarus. 
Reaching Out To Russia 
¶6.  (C) British representative Tim Barrow, an Assistant 
Director in the FCO, stated that the USG and the EU should 
engage Russia on Belarus now to forestall finding ourselves 
on opposite sides later.  Kramer agreed, and said that the 
USG will reach out to Russian interlocutors in the final days 
before the elections.  Lithuanian Political Director 
Zygimantas Pavilionis and Ambassador Baas of Germany asked if 
the EU presidency could send a message to the Russian 
government, but Austrian Ambassador to Lithuania Michael 
Schwarzinger, representing the EU presidency, declined to 
commit his Chancellor.  Helga Schmid, Director of the Policy 
Unit of the EU Council Secretariat, opined that the EU should 
initially issue a message at a lower level, keeping the 
Chancellor and High Representative Solana in reserve, should 
there be a need to elevate the dialogue later. 
Long-term Support for Civil Society 
¶7.  (C) Pavilionis of Lithuania called for the EU to increase 
support for civil society in Belarus and to find more 
effective mechanisms within the EU to deliver such support. 
Participants agreed on the importance of maintaining a 
long-term commitment to democracy-building in Belarus, 
regardless of the outcome of the elections.  Schmid of the EC 
said that isolating the people of Belarus will not work and 
agreed on the need to deepen engagement with civil society. 
Ambassador Baas of Germany advised caution in drawing up a 
visa ban list, emphasizing the need to keep avenues of 
outreach to the people in Belarus open.  Kramer affirmed the 
USG's commitment to supporting the forces of democracy in 
Belarus over the long term while eschewing contact with 
high-level Belarusian officials. 
GOL Support for Democracy in Belarus 
¶8.  (C) Kramer thanked MFA Undersecretary Albinas Januska, in 
a March 15 bilateral meeting, for the GOL's strong efforts to 
promote democracy in the region.  Januska lamented that the 
assistance that the democratic forces in Belarus have 
received has not been enough.  He noted that the GOL is 
scrambling to find funding for last-minute election day 
activities.  He warned of his growing conviction that many of 
the groups that the GOL, the USG, and others have funded are 
fronts for the Belarusian government, and lamented that they 
have successfully diverted contributions away from their 
intended goals.  Januska said that the GOL has assembled a 
small group of reliable pro-democracy youth from the region, 
including Russia, who can offer experience to Belarusian 
counterparts.  (In Kramer's March 14 meeting with the EU 
representatives, the MFA's Renatas Juska advocated engaging 
Ukrainians and Moldovans, who can enter Belarus without 
visas, to help track how civil society groups spend western 
assistance money.) 
Energy Security 
¶9.  (C) Januska said that Russia's use of its vast energy 
resources for political purposes posed a serious problem for 
Lithuania.  He said that the Kremlin will obstruct any deal 
that would award Lithuania's Mazeiku-Nafta oil refinery to 
Kazakhstan's Kazmunay Gas.  (Kazmunay is currently the high 
bidder for Yukos's majority stake in Mazeikiu Nafta.) 
Januska said that despite several promises from Kazakh 
President Nazarbayev to convince Russian Federation President 
Putin to support the deal, Russia has indicated it will not 
let Kazakh oil transit Russian pipelines for refinement in 
Lithuania.  Kramer assured Januska that, while we are working 
closely with Russia on several key issues, most notably Iran, 
the USG will not turn a blind eye to Russia's pressuring 
Europe on energy matters.  Kramer spoke of the USG desire for 
solidarity with the EU on energy security and on the need to 
explore ways to break Russia's energy grip on Europe and open 
up alternative routes to Central Asian oil and gas that do 
not pass through Russia. 
¶10.  (C) Kramer met on March 15 with Valteris Baliukonis, 
diplomatic advisor to Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, 
who had accompanied his president to Kiev four days earlier. 
Kramer affirmed that the USG will work with whatever 
government emerges from the March 26 Rada elections. 
Baliukonis agreed with Kramer's assessment that the elections 
are shaping up to be free and fair, noting that the gulf 
between Tymoshenko and Yushchenko, however, seems as wide as 
ever.  He said he did not rule out a Yushchenko-Yanukovich 
block emerging after the elections.  Baliukonis said that 
Yushchenko had told President Adamkus during the latter's 
visit to Kiev that the next prime minister will come from the 
party that wins the greatest share of the vote. 
¶11. (C) Kramer reviewed Ukraine's significant achievements 
over the last year and stressed that that the country cannot 
afford to waste months post-election fighting over the 
composition of the new government.  Ukraine will need to make 
domestic reforms, he said, if it wants to receive a 
Membership Action Plan from NATO in 2006.  He remarked that 
the USG and EU must hold the Ukrainian government accountable 
to its pledge to fight corruption and to review the recent 
gas deal as soon as the election dust settles.  It will be 
necessary, Kramer advised, to remind the Ukrainians 
continually that NATO is a performance-based institution. 
Baliukonis agreed, and offered that there is still much work 
to do to convince the Ukrainian people that NATO is not the 
¶12.  (C) GOL policymakers are keen to play a leading role in 
averting reversals for regional democracy in the back-to-back 
elections in Belarus and Ukraine, and they want USG help. 
They also want our help dealing with Russia.  Kramer's 
assurances that the USG will not leave Europe dangling while 
the Kremlin toys with their energy supplies will mollify some 
fears.  Many Lithuanians, however, will continue to harbor a 
concern that the USG's need to engage the Kremlin on 
strategic issues such as Iran will restrain our activism in 
what Moscow considers to be its backyard. 
¶13.  (U) DAS Kramer did not have the opportunity to clear 
this cable before departing Vilnius.