C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 000523
STATE FOR IO/UNP (H. BETTS), EUR/SCE (J. BLACK), AND
WHA/CEN (E. TELLO)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV UNSC UNMIK YI EU PM
SUBJECT: PANAMA: ASSESSMENT OF KOSOVO POSITION
REF: A. (A) PANAMA 461
Â¶B. (B) STATE 45355
Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES LUIS ARREAGA. REASON: 1.4 (D)
Â¶1. (C) Panamanian PermRep to the UN Ricardo Alberto Arias'
decision to vote against permitting Kosovar President Sejdiu
to address the UNSC on April 3 did not reflect substantive
Panamanian concerns about the way ahead on Kosovo, but rather
Panama's legalistic approach to procedural matters, Arias'
latitude on procedural matters, and Panama's desire avoid
conflict on the UNSC and to find the largest consensus
possible. First VP and FM Samuel Lewis and MFA UNSC Senior
Advisor Nils Castro asserted on April 4 to Ambassador and
POLCOUNS respectively that they were unaware of Arias'
decision to act to block Sejdiu. On April 5, MFA UNSC
working-level contact Ernesto Cerrud explained to POLOFF that
Panama decided against having the Kosovar President address
the UNSC because Kosovo did not have "international legal
status" as a state, "let alone as a UN Member State." Cerrud
continued that having the UNMIK Administrator deliver
Sejdiu's speech and permitting Sejdiu address UNSC Members
directly in an Arria-style meeting had been an adequate
compromise. From Lewis to Cerrud, Panama's MFA was startled
by Embassy's quick reaction to Arias' action on what the
Panamanians viewed strictly as a routine procedural matter.
Going forward, Post recommends that Ambassador be instructed
to demarche Lewis to lay out exactly the outcome on Kosovo
for which the U.S. expects Panamanian support. After
engaging Lewis, Post recommends that USUN make the same
presentation to Arias. Post recommends against engaging
Panamanian Ambassador to the U.S. Frederico Humbert and
believes Department should hold off on Assistant
Secretary-level engagement until the results of approaches to
Lewis and Arias are known. End summary.
Losing the Substance, Focusing on Procedure
Â¶2. (C) Put simply, Panama's MFA was not focused on the issue
of whether Kosovar President Sejdiu should be permitted to
address the UNSC. As reported reftel A, Panama is supportive
of working toward the adoption of an UNSCR that supports
Ahtisaari's recommendation, including international
supervised independence, but also wishes to avoid a Russian
veto. Post does not see any change in Panama's position. In
other words, though Panama wishes to support the U.S.
position, Panama fears being isolated on one side or the
other of a split UNSC. Seen in this light, Panamanian
PermRep to the UN Arias' decision to deny Sejdiu the ability
to address the UNSC, but to have the UNMIK Administrator
deliver Sejdiu's address and allow Sejdiu speak in an
Arria-style meeting, reflected Panama's desire to forestall
confrontation in the UNSC and leave open the prospect for a
favorable outcome that supported Ahtisaari's recommendations.
First VP and FM Samuel Lewis told Ambassador on April 4 that
he believed that Arias' action was designed to give a little
to the Russians on a procedural matter as a negotiating ploy;
Ambassador told Lewis that Panama's action, even if on this
basis, had been unhelpful.
Â¶3. (C) Lewis and MFA UNSC Senior Advisor Nils Castro were
surprised by the Embassy's quick engagement on what they
viewed as a strictly procedural matter in UNSC. Castro told
POLCOUNS that decision on procedural matters were routinely
left to Arias in New York. Both Lewis and Castro professed
ignorance about Arias' action. On April 5, MFA UNSC
working-level contact Ernesto Cerrud told POLOFF that, since
it did not have "international legal status" as a state, "let
alone a UN Member State," Kosovo did not have the standing to
address the UNSC. (Note: Ambassador, POLCOUNS, and POLOFF,
at their appropriate levels, underscored that the Kosovar
President should be permitted to address the UNSC in the
interest of fair treatment and in light of Ahtisaari's
previous engagement with the Kosovar President.) Cerrud
added that an adequate compromise solution to hear from all
parties had been struck by allowing the UNMIK Administrator
to deliver Sejdiu's address and permitting Sejdiu to address
an Arria-style meeting.
The Way Ahead
Â¶4. (C) Post's quick reaction at multiple levels to Arias'
action on Kosovo got Panama's attention regarding the
importance, including on procedural matters, that the U.S.
attaches to securing an UNSCR on Kosovo. Believing that
Panama can be brought alongto support the U.S. position,
Post recommends that Ambassador be instructed to demarche
Lewis to lay out exactly the key elements for an UNSCR on
Kosovo for which the U.S. requests Panama's support.
Ultimately, Lewis will be the GOP's decision-maker on this
matter. Post believes that we should approach Lewis first so
that he is armed for the inevitable conversation he will have
with Arias. Once Lewis has been demarched, post recommends
that USUN make the same presentation to Arias in New York.
Post recommends against engaging Panamanian Ambassador to the
U.S. Frederico Humbert. Humbert has expressed a desire to
stay as far away as possible from UNSC matters. Furthermore,
post believes at this stage that it is more important to
impress upon Panama the need to maintain tight command and
control between capital and New York before adding additional
nodes, like their bilateral embassy, to their decision-making
process. Once Lewis and Arias have been demarche, post and
Department should assess whether Assistant Secretary-level
engagement is necessary.