C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000721
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/03/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV BO LH
SUBJECT: GOL PM AND FM CAUTION BELARUSIAN COUNTERPARTS ON
S.OSSETIA AND ABKHAZIA RECOGNITION
Classified By: Ambassador John A. Cloud for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
Â¶1. (C) In separate conversations September 2, Lithuanian
Prime Minister Kirkilas and Foreign Minister Vaitiekunas each
cautioned their Belarusian counterparts on recognition of
South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Acting Director of the MFA's
Eastern Neighborhood Policy Department Nortautas Statkus told
Post September 3 that GOL PM Kirkilas asked Belarusian PM
Sidorsky to "think twice" about recognizing South Ossetia and
Abkhazia during a face to face meeting in the Lithuanian
border town of Druskininkai. Sidorsky responded that Russia
was exerting "huge pressure" on the GOB to do so, threatening
to raise the price of natural gas to the European level in
2009 (according to Statkus from approximately USD 140 per
1,000 cubic meter to approximately USD 400). The two Prime
Ministers also discussed the current EU-Belarus visa regime
and possible energy production cooperation (septel).
Â¶2. (C) Statkus said a similar message of caution was
delivered in a phone conversation later the same day by FM
Vaitiekunas to GOB FM Martynov, who replied that no decision
has been made though he said Russia has given Belarus until
September 9 to decide one way or the other.
Â¶3. (C) Statkus said Martynov also expressed interest in a
face-to-face meeting about recognition of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia with FM Vaitiekunas (similar to the
Kirkilas-Sidorsky meeting at the border). According to
Statkus, Vaitiekunas is open to the idea but wants to consult
with EU and U.S. allies first. He thinks any meeting with
Martynov should take place before the September 15 Friends of
Belarus meeting in Brussels. Statkus said the Lithuanians
don't believe Martynov can alter overall policy but he at
least can return honest messages to President Lukashenka.
Â¶4. (C) Statkus also addressed the upcoming Collective
Security Treaty Organization meeting in Moscow September 5,
predicting that any joint statement that emerges will contain
agreed language "understanding" or "supporting" Russian
actions in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Â¶5. (C) Action request: The GOL wants to consult with both EU
allies and the USG on a foreign minister face-to-face
meeting. Post requests any guidance Washington can provide
on this proposed meeting.