Viewing cable 07PARIS1844, ENGAGING THE NEW FRENCH GOVERNMENT ON FOREIGN
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|07PARIS1844||2007-05-10 09:09||2010-11-30 21:09||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Paris|
VZCZCXRO0961 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHFR #1844/01 1300917 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 100917Z MAY 07 FM AMEMBASSY PARIS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7044 INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 001844 SIPDIS SIPDIS DEPT ALSO FOR THE DEPUTY SECRETARY E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2017 TAGS: PREL FR EUN IR AF NATO IZ TU UNO LE YI RS UNMIK SUBJECT: ENGAGING THE NEW FRENCH GOVERNMENT ON FOREIGN POLICY: FIVE IMMEDIATE ISSUES REF: A. PARIS 1789 ¶B. PARIS 921 ¶C. PARIS 777 ¶D. PARIS 1817 ¶E. EMBASSY PARIS DAILY SIPRNET REPORTS Classified By: Ambassador Craig Stapleton for reasons 1.4 (B & D). ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Foreign policy played only a negligible role in the presidential election campaign that concluded May 6, and Sarkozy has relatively little experience in foreign affairs, despite his tenures as Interior and Finance Minister. Nonetheless, Sarkozy's personality is such that he will want to take the stage at the June 6-8 G8 and June 21-22 European summits as a full partner. Instinctively pro-American and pro-Israeli, Sarkozy is fiercely opposed to Turkish EU membership. He has promised that his approach to foreign affairs will be different from Chirac's in its emphasis on human rights, and has identified Europe, Africa and the U.S. as his three immediate priorities. That said, generally speaking, continuity will prevail, reflecting the non-partisan, consensus support that French foreign policy has enjoyed during the Fifth Republic. On Europe, his goal is, by overcoming the current institutional crisis, to re-impart momentum to European integration and make the EU a major player on the world stage. On Africa, Sarkozy advocates increased developmental aid as the offset for regulating immigration (important for his domestic agenda) and has repeatedly called for action on Darfur. He has called for a "Mediterranean Union," to include Turkey and Israel, as Europe's institutional link to the Middle East and North Africa. With the U.S., he seeks a relationship based on renewed confidence and trust that still allows for honest differences of perspective; most recently, he has pointed to global climate change (septel) as his major area of policy difference with the U.S. ¶2. (C) SUMMARY CONT'D: The Deputy Secretary's May 16 meetings in Paris will occur the same day President-elect Sarkozy assumes office (Sarkozy himself will therefore be unavailable). Beyond welcoming the prospect of improved U.S.-French relations, the Deputy Secretary can use his visit to send a message on five key U.S. foreign policy concerns. We can welcome Sarkozy's willingness to take a tough line on Iran, but also will need to impress on him the stakes in Afghanistan and the importance of France remaining a key partner there. On Iraq, we can expect Sarkozy to drop the needling rhetoric on a horizon for U.S. withdrawal, but having told the President he "wants to help the U.S. get out of Iraq," we should press him to offer a specific, symbolic proposal -- such as active French engagement with friendly Arab governments -- to associate France with our efforts there. In assuring Sarkozy of strong U.S. support for a strong Europe, we need to stress the importance we attach to keeping Turkey's EU accession negotiations going. Finally, we should stress the importance of a united front against Russia as Kosovo goes before the UNSC. END SUMMARY. A NOVICE IN FOREIGN POLICY -------------------------- ¶3. (C) A presidential election campaign dominated by the domestic change and reform thematic left very little room for foreign policy. Sarkozy has little foreign policy experience and speaks only very limited English. Given his strong character and action-oriented agenda, and his desire to put France back on center stage, we can nonetheless expect Sarkozy to move quickly to assert himself as an equal partner at the upcoming June 6-8 G8 Summit in Germany and the June 21-22 European Council meeting in Brussels. (See ref A for a discussion of Sarkozy's views on economic and trade issues.) U.S.-FRIENDLIER, BUT STILL A GAULLIST ------------------------------------- ¶4. (C) Most voters went to the polls May 6 convinced that President-elect Sarkozy would seek a better relationship with the U.S., which he explicitly affirmed in his May 6 acceptance speech. Sarkozy's opponents had attempted to use his September 12, 2006 meeting with President Bush to suggest that Sarkozy was a U.S. "poodle" who would have supported the U.S. intervention in Iraq, unlike President Chirac. In a recent press conference on foreign policy (ref B), Sarkozy made clear he had supported Chirac's decision. Then and in his post-election remarks, he nonetheless highlighted the need for a friendlier tone and more confidence in the U.S.-French bilateral relationship (and in NATO-EU relations), in a way that also preserves Gaullist (and EU) freedom of action. In effect, Sarkozy has already shifted PARIS 00001844 002 OF 004 the focus of U.S.-French "differences" from Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian relationship to climate change and Turkish membership in the EU (see also refs B, C and D). EU TOP IMMEDIATE PRIORITY ------------------------- ¶5. (C) Sarkozy's first foreign policy priority will be to impart new momentum to the EU and show that France is back as a key EU player. Sarkozy no doubt knows already that his idea of a simplified treaty is acceptable to London and Berlin as the best means to avoid new referenda, and he will move quickly to ensure that a process can begin by the end of the German EU Presidency that would conclude at the latest by the end of the French Presidency in December 2008, in advance of European parliamentary elections in early 2009. Immediate progress on this front would go a long way to overcome the sense of malaise and indirection stemming from President Chirac's failure to push through the referendum on the Constitutional Treaty in May 2005. Sarkozy wants a European Union that is a veritable player on the world stage, with coherent policies to guarantee its energy supplies and create buffers against globalization while harnessing its creative energies. AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT AND DARFUR ------------------------------ ¶6. (c) Sarkozy lacks the web of personal relationships with African (and Middle Eastern) leaders that, in particular, Chirac used to direct French foreign policy. Sarkozy intends to make a virtue of his less personalized approach, reviewing France's exposure based on a hard-headed re-evaluation of French national interests. Sarkozy has identified Africa as one of his three foreign policy priority areas (along with the EU and U.S.), in line with his domestic campaign focus on uncontrolled immigration to France. His interest in development assistance for Africa appears aimed primarily at offsetting Africans' concern over Sarkozy's domestic political goal of reducing immigration from Africa -- and as part of a more comprehensive international effort to address conditions in Africa that give rise to mass emigration from the continent. A review of French national interests may augur a lessening of French military engagement across Africa or an increased desire to see the EU take over some of its missions. Sarkozy has called repeatedly for action on Darfur, including prosecution of Sudanese leaders by the International Criminal Court, but it is unclear at this stage what concrete steps he might otherwise propose. MEDITERRANEAN UNION AND THE MIDDLE EAST --------------------------------------- ¶7. (C) We can expect Sarkozy to push hard his signature "vision" issue, the idea of a "Mediterranean Union," to include Turkey and Israel, which would supersede the EU Barcelona process and create an area modeled after, and having a privileged partnership with, the European Union. Sarkozy has bluntly declared that pursuing Middle East peace is not incompatible with ensuring Israel's security, while assuring nervous Arab leaders -- most recently Egyptian President Mubarak -- that his policies toward the Middle East would be largely in synch with Chirac's. On the whole, it seems likely that continuity will prevail, although the traditionally pro-Arab MFA may have to accommodate Sarkozy's greater emphasis on Israel's security needs. It remains to be seen to what extent Sarkozy will attempt to leverage his pro-Israel orientation for more leverage for France and/or the EU in the Middle East peace process. MORE HUMAN RIGHTS ----------------- ¶8. (C) Sarkozy has indicated very publicly -- enough so that it is reasonable to assume that he will follow through -- that he intends to place more emphasis on human rights issues. He has made clear that he would be less likely than Chirac to accommodate even Russia or China in the name of realpolitik, citing the situation in Chechnya and his opposition to lifting of the EU arms embargo on China. A consistent emphasis on human rights could have a significant impact on French policy in Africa and the Middle East. IMMEDIATE MESSAGES: IRAN, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, EU/TURKEY, KOSOVO/RUSSIA -------------------------------------------- ¶9. (C) We believe that, beginning with the May 15-16 visit to France of the Deputy Secretary, the USG should reach out quickly to engage the new French government. Beyond welcoming prospects for an improved U.S.-French relationship, we need to send messages on the following five key issues: PARIS 00001844 003 OF 004 Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, EU/Turkey, and Kosovo/Russia. If time permits, the Deputy Secretary may also wish to review the state of play on Darfur. -- IRAN: Sarkozy views Iran as the most serious international threat, and he will be at least as tough-minded a partner as Chirac has been. He has expressed a willingness to tighten financial sanctions against Iran. While he prefers acting under the authority of the UNSC, we believe he could support resorting to measures outside the UN framework if necessary. The late-May consideration of next steps in the UNSC offers a first opportunity to work with the new government, and to test and shape its approach. -- AFGHANISTAN: MFA Political Director Araud has underscored the need for the USG to engage the new government to dispel the widespread impression, shared by Chirac, that Afghanistan may be a losing cause. Under the impact of the Taliban kidnapping of French citizens, Sarkozy recently stated that France's role in Afghanistan -- now that the anti-terrorism campaign has largely ended and French Special Forces withdrawn from OEF -- was no longer "decisive" and that French forces would not remain there permanently. The Taliban threat against the life of the one remaining French hostage is still directly tied to a demand for France's military withdrawal form Afghanistan. We will need to impress on Sarkozy the importance of French perseverance over the mid-term (including through more purposeful public statements about the stakes there) and, as the French have stressed to us on Bosnia or Kosovo, the importance of "in together and out together," which also applies to national caveats on the use of forces. -- IRAQ: Chirac's departure from the scene should enable France to put U.S.-French differences not only aside, but behind us. Sarkozy, like most other French politicians, has said he would have handled our differences in a less confrontational matter. This does not change the fact that he (now, in any case) believes Chirac made the right decision in opposing the war. Moreover, concern about feeding the "President Bush's poodle" accusation might militate against any dramatic public change in GOF policy, at least in the immediate future, with French parliamentary elections looming. That said, we should take him at his word that he "wants to help the U.S. get out of Iraq." Our goal in the near term should be to push the French toward a more positive declaratory policy, working with the new government to identify a symbolic turning of the page on France's "let the U.S. live with it" attitude of the Chirac/Villepin years. One possibility would be active French engagement on Iraq with Arab governments of the region. -- EU/TURKEY: Publicly and privately, we should encourage France to reassume its rightful place in Europe, as part of our broader message that a re-invigorated Europe is in the U.S. interest. If we decide to participate in an ESDP police mission in Kosovo, we should use this as an example -- one for them to follow -- of choosing the institutional framework for joint action to match the needs of the situation. Luc Ferry, a former Education Minister, political commentator and close friend of Sarkozy's, has urged that we attempt to change Sarkozy's opposition to Turkey's EU membership. While a change of heart appears extremely unlikely given Sarkozy's political identification with opposition to Turkish membership and his categorical statements on the issue, we should seek to persuade him to temper his post-election rhetoric, allow accession negotiations to proceed, and at least not close the door dramatically and completely at this time. -- KOSOVO/RUSSIA: We should stress the importance of a united front in the UN Security Council on Kosovo's independence. We would welcome a more active French role in persuading Russia not to veto a UNSC Resolution. ENGAGING THE SARKOZY ADMINISTRATION ----------------------------------- ¶10. (C) We will know more about the likely foreign policy orientations of the new Sarkozy government once he names a foreign minister and key advisors are in place. We would expect him to designate someone of proven competence (such as former FM Alain Juppe, Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, or former FM Michel Barnier). There is no reason to believe that Sarkozy will come into office with the intent of seriously challenging the Gaullist consensus underlying French foreign policy. The MFA will work overtime to ensure continuity in French policy positions. Over time, and as he PARIS 00001844 004 OF 004 gains experience, Sarkozy is certain to assert his authority over foreign policy more directly. It still remains to be seen whether Sarkozy will create -- as proposed by Pierre Lellouche -- the French equivalent of a National Security Council that would supplant the Presidential diplomatic cell and assume a larger role in coordinating French foreign policy; we have no indication Sarkozy has personally signed on to such a move. It is also unclear whether the Presidency's Africa Cell, which has long enjoyed a privileged position, will survive in its present form. Sarkozy's desire to move away from Elysee-centered personal diplomacy with African leaders may mean the days of this bureaucratic post-colonial throwback may be numbered. ¶11. (C) Although Sarkozy will initially be focused on domestic reforms and relaunching the EU, he will also grasp every opportunity to showcase his leadership of a re-invigorated France on the international scene, confident of its place in the world. This entails -- and he will not be shy about repeating this point publicly -- establishing a relationship of trust and working together productively with the United States. The Deputy Secretary's May 15-16 visit will offer the first occasion to make our views known to the new Administration, as it comes into office (unfortunately, this also means that Sarkozy himself will be unavailable for meetings). The Defense Secretary's June 5-6 visit to France will offer an excellent opportunity to engage the leaders of the newly-constituted government. Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm STAPLETON