06MOSCOW6130, FORUM FOR THE FUTURE PLANNING MEETING, MOSCOW, MAY

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06MOSCOW6130 2006-06-07 12:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO0833
PP RUEHAG
DE RUEHMO #6130/01 1581230
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071230Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7298
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 2668
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 1777
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0407
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1757
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 1965
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3976
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 006130 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KMPI RS
SUBJECT: FORUM FOR THE FUTURE PLANNING MEETING, MOSCOW, MAY 
30, 2006 
 
 
Classified By: Minister Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
  Reasons: 1.4(B/D). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  Participants at the second Broader Middle 
East and North Africa (BMENA) Forum for the Future planning 
meeting agreed that the 2006 Forum will take place at the 
Dead Sea on December 3, preceded by a senior officials 
meeting and working dinner for ministers on December 2. 
Jordan circulated a draft agenda for the ministerial and 
requested comments.  Participants discussed the role of civil 
society representatives in the Forum, with Egypt arguing that 
the NGO role at the 2005 Bahrain Forum was too large, and 
other participants saying it was a good precedent.  Italy and 
Egypt tabled proposals for an inter-cultural dialogue, but 
most other participants felt that it fell outside the scope 
of the BMENA initiative.  Participants agreed on four themes 
for the Civil Society Dialogue.  Russia outlined its 
independent plans for academic seminars on Middle East topics 
to be held in Moscow in June and St. Petersburg in September. 
 The next planning meeting will be held in early September in 
Jordan.  End summary. 
 
2. (U) Russia and Jordan co-chaired the second 2006 Forum for 
the Future planning meeting in Moscow on May 30.  The 
Department was represented by NEA DAS Scott Carpenter, EUR 
PDAS Kurt Volker, DRL DAS Erica Barks-Ruggles, NEA/PI Blake 
Thorkelson, and Embassy Moscow poloff Les Viguerie. 
 
--------------- 
OPENING SESSION 
--------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov 
opened the meeting by saying that Russia was satisfied with 
progress under its G8 presidency, including continuity for 
prior G8 initiatives such as BMENA.  He noted that reform is 
being hampered by conflicts in the region, including the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iraq.  Jordanian MFA legal 
director Bisher Khasawnah said that the overarching Forum 
theme for 2006 is political and economic empowerment and that 
all delegations had agreed on the importance of civil society 
participation.  The Russian Ministries of Education and 
Finance provided read-outs of the BMENA Education and Finance 
Ministerials held in Sharm el-Sheikh in late May. 
 
--------------------------------- 
FORUM FOR THE FUTURE PREPARATIONS 
--------------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) Turning to the Forum itself, participants agreed 
that the ministerial will take place on December 3 at the 
Dead Sea, with senior officials meeting the day before. 
Jordan said that the Forum would cost $850,000, offered to 
share a detailed budget, and proposed a trust-fund type 
arrangement that would support the 2006 and future Forum 
meetings through voluntary donations from governments. 
Participants agreed that ministers should hold an informal 
dinner the evening of December 2 to discuss regional 
political issues.  DAS Carpenter said that the December 3 
ministerial is on the Secretary,s schedule, but we are 
unsure of her participation in the dinner as we do not know 
when she will be arriving and departing Jordan. 
 
5. (SBU) Jordan circulated a draft agenda for the ministerial 
session.  Participants agreed that the agenda would be 
discussed further at the September planning meeting, and 
Jordan asked all delegations to send comments on the agenda. 
Jordan will circulate new drafts of the senior officials and 
ministerial meetings before the next planning meeting, which 
will take place sometime between September 4 and 13 in Amman. 
 
--------------------------- 
CIVIL SOCIETY PARTICIPATION 
--------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) The UK FCO,s Frances Guy and Bahrain MFA,s Shaikh 
Abdul Aziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa described civil society 
activities in 2005.  Guy stressed that the 2005 Civil Society 
Dialogue themes were linked to the Forum agenda, and that NGO 
representatives were self-selecting.  Shaikh Abdul Aziz noted 
that the balance of government and NGO delegations in the 
 
MOSCOW 00006130  002 OF 004 
 
 
2005 Forum was about 50/50, including participants from the 
Civil Society and Democracy Assistance Dialogues.  The 
presence of NGOs is of utmost importance, he said.  Shaikh 
Abdul Aziz also described Bahrain,s experience with the 
&parallel8 civil society conference, which the GOB 
facilitated, while insisting that the conference,s themes 
must not overlap with Civil Society Dialogue themes. 
Allowing 300 civil society representatives to participate in 
the parallel conference prevented any unrest or 
demonstrations. 
 
7. (SBU) Guy noted that much work is already being done on 
the proposed themes for 2006 (on transparency, lega
l 
environment, youth engagement, and independent judiciary), so 
it is important not to duplicate that work.  Participants 
endorsed her offer to work with the World Bank,s Middle East 
Development Forum on the transparency and youth themes and 
with the UN Development Program on the judicial theme.  Guy 
will organize a meeting with them on the margins of the 
Democracy Assistance Dialogue meeting in Yemen in late June. 
DAS Carpenter offered U.S. sponsorship of the legal 
environment theme, which the group welcomed. 
 
------------------- 
EGYPTIAN OBJECTIONS 
------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Egyptian MFA Assistant to the Minister Mohammad 
Shaaban raised objections to the plans for civil society 
participation.  He wanted to avoid the Bahrain format, which 
was a joint meeting of civil society and governments that he 
felt was dominated by civil society.  He expressed concerns 
that some NGOs are actually just individuals, and are not 
legally registered.  Jordanian Ministry of Planning official 
Nasser Shraideh said that the Bahrain precedent would be 
respected:  civil society representatives will be present 
throughout the ministerial to report on their work and 
reflect on government-led initiatives.  &We can,t go 
back,8 he said, a sentiment that was echoed by the entire 
U.S., UK, German, EU, and Bahraini delegations.  Shraideh 
also said that Forum organizers would not check whether each 
participating NGO was legally registered or not. 
 
9. (SBU) In the discussion that followed, Moroccan MFA DG 
Youssef Amrani said that NGOs that participate in the Forum 
should be inclusive and representative of NGOs throughout the 
region.  He said there are too many agenda items in the 
ministerial, and there should be a balance between topics 
discussed by senior officials and ministers.  Russia and 
Jordan agreed on this point.  German MFA director Andreas 
Reinicke endorsed the Bahrain example of NGO participation 
and said that the German MFA would be meeting with NGOs next 
month to encourage them to participate in BMENA projects. 
DAS Carpenter emphasized the importance of civil society 
participation in the Forum and said that the parallel civil 
society event is a political necessity to show civil society 
that it can and should be involved.  Vershinin said that only 
those civil society organizations that are &legally 
registered in terms of national legislation8 should be 
invited to the Forum. 
 
10. (SBU) At the end of the meeting, Shaaban reiterated that 
civil society should not supersede ministers, and said that 
his minister might not attend if the Forum was going to 
become a &civil society exercise.8  Vershinin said that a 
civil society &marathon8 was not a good idea.  DAS 
Carpenter agreed that no one wants ministers to sit for 90 
minutes of NGO presentations, and said the challenge is how 
to structure the agenda more interactively.  He said the 
group should leave the agenda to Jordan and Russia to sort 
out, but that all governments had agreed to maintain at least 
the level of NGO participation at the Bahrain Forum.  Shaikh 
Abdul Aziz stressed that civil society never had &an upper 
role8 at the 2005 Forum, because clear guidelines were given 
to the NGOs that they should discuss issues with application 
across the region, not just to one country.  In prior Forums, 
it was the ministers, not civil society, who &hijacked8 the 
meeting with long interventions.  He offered to work with 
Jordan on the agenda. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
MOSCOW 00006130  003 OF 004 
 
 
ITALIAN AND EGYPTIAN PROPOSALS ON DIALOGUE ON PLURALISM 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
11. (SBU) Italian BMENA coordinator Sergio Scarantino 
circulated a proposal for a 2007 conference in Rome on a 
&Dialogue on Pluralism,8 saying there is a need to increase 
dialogue across cultures, religions, and ethical systems. 
This work would fall under the Democracy Assistance Dialogue 
(DAD) framework and complement the work of the Alliance of 
Civilizations.  The goals would be to establish an inventory 
of current interfaith dialogues and NGOs active in this area, 
to examine the coexistence of different cultures and 
religions, and to balance freedom of expression with 
tolerance.  A working group would determine what constitutes 
an offense to religion.  Ambassador Shaaban then noted that 
the Sea Island BMENA statement includes a mention of work on 
tolerance and respect that has not been followed up.  He 
called for a dialogue of cultures, including different 
religions and traditions, and said that it should fall 
outside the DAD but within BMENA. 
 
12. (SBU) Several participants questioned these proposals. 
DAS Carpenter said that inter-cultural dialogue should be the 
subject of an entire initiative, linked to the Alliance of 
Civilizations, EuroMed, and OSCE processes, but should fall 
outside of BMENA.  This view was seconded by Morocco, Turkey, 
Jordan, the UK, and Germany.  Scarantino said that Italy 
would take stock of these observations, but noted that while 
other initiatives included only governments, the Italian 
proposal included civil society, media, and experts. 
 
---------------- 
RUSSIAN SEMINARS 
---------------- 
 
13. (SBU) Russian MFA MENA deputy director Oleg Ozerov 
described the two seminars Russia will organize on BMENA 
topics in 2006.  The first, on June 7 in Moscow, is entitled 
&BMENA Region:  Political Reforms and Security8 and will 
focus on political processes, security and non-proliferation, 
and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The seminar will be 
sponsored by Moscow State University and participants will 
include prominent academics from Russia, the UAE, and the UK, 
Russian businessmen, and Lebanese diplomatic officials. 
Russia circulated a concept paper for the second seminar, 
&BMENA:  An Overview of Trends in Education, Economics, and 
Politics, and the General Prospects of the Region,8 
sponsored by St. Petersburg State University in September or 
October. 
 
-------------- 
OTHER COMMENTS 
-------------- 
 
14. (SBU) Japan:  MFA MENA director Motohide Yoshikawa 
circulated a presentation on Japan,s work on vocational 
training and women,s empowerment.  He said he is 
encountering &workshop fatigue8 among Japanese experts and 
called for more concrete workshops and fewer conferences.  He 
complained that Japan,s $10 million contribution to the 
IFC,s Private Enterprise Partnership had not been used.  The 
European Commission,s Andres Bassols Soldevila called for 
more information on all BMENA events and said that civil 
society should be included as much as possible.  Bahrain,s 
Shaikh Abdul Aziz said that the Center for Entrepreneurial 
Excellence in Bahrain is &struggling8 because only the U.S. 
and UK have supported it.  He called for G8 support for the 
Center.  Shaaban circulated a list of responses to Egypt,s 
p
roposal to establish a consortium of independent G8 and 
BMENA research institutions and academic centers to offer 
advice on regional development, and requested that all 
governments send contact information of institutions that 
would be interested. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
15. (C) An important precedent was set at the Bahrain Forum 
for the Future in November 2005, where civil society 
organizations sat at the table as equal participants with 
 
MOSCOW 00006130  004 OF 004 
 
 
governments.  That this precedent is now being questioned is 
troubling.  The U.S. will need to engage with Jordan, to 
provide moral support as it develops the final structure for 
the Forum; with Bahrain, which can offer Jordan useful 
lessons learned from 2005; and with Egypt, to gauge the 
seriousness of Ambassador Shaaban,s threat of a boycott if 
the civil society/government roles are not more &balanced.8 
 The planning meeting showed Egypt to be isolated in its 
position, but a comment by Russia,s Vershinin that the Forum 
must be &worth my minister,s time8 demonstrates the 
importance of crafting an agenda that continues robust and 
equal civil society participation while also giving a central 
role to government representatives.  Vershinin and Shaaban,s 
statement that the legal registration of participating NGOs 
should be vetted is another example of the continuing 
difficulties we will face with Russia and Egypt on NGO 
issues)-not only in the context of the Forum for the Future, 
but also in our bilateral relations.  We will need to be 
vigilant in supporting the strong role of our civil society 
partners in the face of this opposition. 
 
16. (C) This cable has been cleared by Deputy Assistant 
Secretaries Scott Carpenter, Erica Barks-Ruggles and Kurt 
 
SIPDIS 
Volker. 
BURNS

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