07MOSCOW1143, KOSOVO: HARDLINE RUSSIAN DFM TITOV URGES PHASED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1143 2007-03-16 13:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO7660
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #1143/01 0751352
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 161352Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8316
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001143 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2017 
TAGS: PREL RS
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: HARDLINE RUSSIAN DFM TITOV URGES PHASED 
APPROACH 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b, d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  In a March 15 meeting, Deputy Foreign 
Minister Titov reiterated to the Ambassador that the Russian 
bottomline remained unchanged: the Ahtisaari plan was 
unacceptable absent Serbian endorsement, and Serbs remained 
united in their opposition to the proposal.  Titov expressed 
anger that GOR acquiescence to the forwarding of Ahtisaari's 
report to the Secretary General was being spun as acceptance 
of a UN Security Council review of the proposal, which would 
produce only negative consequences.  Titov took issue with 
Holbrooke's critique of Russia, blamed the international 
community for falsely raising Kosovar expectations for 
independence, underscored Albanian aggression and the 
existence of militant training camps, and questioned 
Belgrade's interest in an EU successor to UNMIK.  Titov 
reiterated that Russia was not interested in a "swap" on 
Kosovo.  Russia believes a "phased approach" is gaining 
ground at the UNSC, and supports the resumption of 
negotiations post-Ahtisaari.  The GOR will use the SC's March 
19 discussion of UNMIK to criticize Security Council 
deliberations over status, but has no clear vision on how to 
approach the next Contact Group meeting.  End Summary 
 
Serbs United Against Ahtisaari; GOR Counsels Engagement 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
2.  (C)  In an hour-plus meeting on March 15 with the 
Ambassador, Deputy Foreign Minister Titov said that during 
his early March visit to Belgrade, he detected no evolution 
in the views of the Serbian leaders, who remain united in 
their opposition to the Ahtisaari plan.  Titov said it was a 
mistake for "some international partners" to differentiate 
President Tadic from PM Kostunica.  While Tadic was a more 
flexible individual in general, the domestic political 
situation in Serbia did not permit flexibility on Kosovo.  FM 
Draskovic's intellectual musings on a "one country, two 
systems" approach were not serious, and Titov speculated that 
he soon would be leaving government.  Titov said that Tadic 
was overly optimistic about the timeline for a formation of a 
new government, and predicted that Kostunica would succeed in 
holding onto his position. 
 
3.  (C)  The GOR continued to advise the Serbian leaders to 
approach the Ahtisaari plan constructively, by achieving a 
common understanding on the issues of national minorities and 
security arrangements for cultural and religious sites.  GOR 
Special Envoy for Kosovo Botsan-Kharchenko clarified that 
Serbia's intransigence at the final negotiating session was a 
function of its refusal to demonstrate flexibility on the 
technical annexes as long as the discussions were in the 
framework of Kosovo's independence. 
 
Russian Stance on UNSC Consideration of Ahtisaari 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
4.  (C)  Titov said that the Serbs did not ask him whether 
the GOR would veto the Ahtisaari plan, and the Russian 
formulation remained the same:  Russian support for the 
Ahtisaari plan was premised on Belgrade's endorsement of the 
proposal.  Russian support was not for Serbs, per se, but for 
the principle of territorial integrity contained in UNSC 
1244.  The Ambassador interjected that the U.S. and its other 
Contact Group partners had a very different interpretation of 
the resolution.  Titov warned that if the plan, unrevised, 
was sent to the Security Council for a vote, then "this would 
be totally unacceptable to us."  Titov underscored Russia's 
consistent message to its partners, noting First Deputy Prime 
Minister Sergey Ivanov's recent bilateral consultations with 
the French Defense and Foreign Ministers, as well as Foreign 
Minister Lavrov's public and private statements. 
 
5.  (C)  Expressing frustration over comments attributed to 
the State Department, Titov took issue with the 
characterization that Russia had not opposed the Ahtisaari 
proposal being brought to the Security Council.  Russia 
consistently objected to Security Council involvement, given 
the lack of consensus, and believed any discussion would be 
negative.  Russia had not opposed Ahtisaari's decision to 
send his plan to the Secretary General, because it was his 
right to report to his superior.  This was an important 
distinction that was being misconstrued in Washington. 
 
6.  (C)  Titov also took issue with Ambassador Holbrooke's 
Washington Post op-ed, assigning blame to Russia for the 
consequences that might follow rejection of the Ahtisaari 
package.  As a Security Council member, Russia had 
responsibilities and would uphold them; responsibility did 
not mean guilt.  Russia was not afraid of the consequences; 
to the contrary, it had warned Contact Group members for 
years that an approach that vilified Serbia and did not 
 
MOSCOW 00001143  002 OF 003 
 
 
achieve the acceptance of all the parties would fail.  The 
GOR had warned its Western partners that promises of 
Euro-Atlantic integration would not be sufficient to overcome 
Serbian objections to Ko
sovo's independence and Russia had 
been proved correct.  Serbian politicians lived in the 
present, and could not placate domestic opinion with 
promissory notes redeemable in twenty years.  Serbia needed a 
face-saving solution (e.g. the posting of Serbian personnel 
on Kosovo's external borders) that prolonged negotiations 
could achieve; time would help wean Serbia from the 
centrality of Kosovo.  Titov noted that Russia had to factor 
in domestic consequences as well; in an election year, he 
averred, the Duma would seize on Kosovo's independence and 
demand similar treatment for Abkhazia. 
 
7.  (C)  The Ambassador stressed that "guilt" or "fear" 
should not frame the discussion; the issue was complicated, 
with much at stake.  While we believed that Kosovo was 
unique, we understood that it had consequences.  The U.S. 
agreed that the best decision was a consensual one, but saw 
no prospect for a negotiated solution between the Serbs and 
Kosovars.  Yes, this was a difficult pill for Serbs to 
swallow, but Serbia needed to understand that Kosovo was 
irrevocably lost.  The Ambassador underscored that the U.S. 
and EU were not prepared to maintain a troop presence in 
Kosovo indefinitely: the status quo was unsustainable.  The 
Ambassador pressed the GOR to identify additional steps that 
the U.S. and EU could take to persuade Belgrade to move 
forward. Titov demurred: visits by the EU Troika exacerbated, 
and didn't improve, the situation in Serbia. 
 
8.  (C)  Titov complained that the international community 
had changed the rules of the game, from standards first, to 
standards later.  Now the GOR understood that Kosovo was not 
expected to adhere to European-level standards.  Kosovo was a 
failed state by Western definition, dominated by organized 
crime, drug trafficking, and trafficking in persons.  The 
Kosovars were aggressive and would not be satisfied until a 
Greater Kosovo emerged, at the expense of its neighbors. 
Titov noted credible reports of extremist training camps in 
Kosovo, which were not controlled by KFOR or UNMIK: that was 
unacceptable.  In terms of demographics, the Kosovars would 
breed their neighbors into submission.  International 
community promises of independence meant that the Kosovars 
never sought a compromise with Serbia; the West was to blame 
for Albanian threats of violence. 
 
9.  (C)  The Ambassador responded that Serbian behavior was 
responsible for the changing perceptions of the international 
community from the time of UNSCR 1244's passage to now.  The 
Kosovars were making substantial progress on standards and 
were developing the attributes of statehood.  The extended 
period of international supervision would ensure that 
standards were maintained.  Titov questioned the staying 
power of any follow-on European force.  Noting the success of 
PM Ceku's December 2006 visit, the Ambassador urged the GOR 
to deepen contacts with the Kosovars.  Titov conceded that 
Ceku was reasonable, questioned his staying power in 
Pristina, and noted the visit caused some controversy among 
Russian Duma members. 
 
Flagging UNMIK Successor 
------------------------ 
 
10.  (C)  Titov said that there was no Serbian consensus on a 
follow-on international presence to UNMIK, although it was 
clear that an international presence was required.  The GOR 
read was that Serbia preferred a UN presence to the European 
Union and expressed concern that EU planning for a Kosovo 
deployment could be premature.  Titov expressed concern that 
many EU countries did not appear informed about Belgrade's 
view on the international presence. 
 
Russia: No Swaps 
---------------- 
 
11.  (C)  Titov underscored that Russia was not interested in 
Kosovo as a template to be used in other frozen conflicts. 
While some accused the GOR of looking for a "swap" in another 
region or a horse-trade on another issue, this was not the 
case.  Lavrov had been clear: Russia had a principled 
difference with the U.S. over Kosovo.  The Ambassador said he 
understood the GOR position, but urged Russia to seize on 
Kosovo's differences as a way to justify its unique 
resolution.  The Ahtisaari plan's provision for extended 
supervision was such a hook.  The danger was that inaction 
would generate far worse outcomes, including violence against 
Serbs.  The GOR considered this Albanian "blackmail," but it 
was a political reality.  Ahtisaari's plan was the least bad 
outcome for Serbia that could be implemented.  The Ambassador 
stressed again that the status quo was unsustainable.  Titov 
 
MOSCOW 00001143  003 OF 003 
 
 
disagreed, arguing that Cyprus indicated otherwise.  The 
international community tried to have it both ways, saying 
the situation was unsustainable, while KFOR reported that 
everything was under control. 
 
Phased Approach Required 
------------------------ 
 
12.  (C)  Based on consultations with European colleagues, 
Titov claimed that more were leaning towards a "phased 
approach" to solving Kosovo.  This evolution reflected 
Security Council realities: China was "close to Russia's 
understanding" on Kosovo and several other Council members 
were "nervous."  Rather than fail in the Security Council, 
the better approach would be a "provisional decision" that 
took note of Ahtisaari's efforts, but introduced a new round 
of discussions, under a new Special Representative.  (Titov, 
noting earlier consultations with the Swedish Ambassador, 
jokingly alluded to FM Bildt's continued interest in Kosovo.) 
 Repeating on several occasions and in familiar terms the 
Russian critique of Ahtisaari's negotiating style and bias, 
Titov quipped that "it is not the end of history when 
Ahtisaari leaves." Since Ahtisaari always viewed his 
negotiating objective as "impossible," he had succeeded in 
living up to his expectations of failure. 
 
13.  (C)  Pressed by the Ambassador to clarify the GOR 
strategy, Titov and Botsan-Kharchenko said there was no clear 
vision for the upcoming Contact Group meeting. 
Botsan-Kharchenko said the GOR would use the March 19 UNSC 
session on UNMIK to express concern over the prospect of 
Security Council deliberations on the Ahtisaari plan, but 
thought that the UK-hosted Contact Group would be a general 
exchange of views.  The GOR would like to see a discussion of 
how to restart the negotiating process.  Titov warned against 
any expectation of a joint statement.  While Titov 
characterized the meeting as an opportunity to take the 
temperature, the Ambassador urged Russia to come prepared for 
a serious conversation. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
14.  (C)  We detect no give in the GOR position and Titov 
showed little negotiating flexibility.  The GOR is clearly 
displeased that its acquiescence to the forwarding of 
Ahtisaari's report to the SYG has been interpreted as a 
softening of their bottom line: no Ahtisaari plan without 
Serbian end
orsement. 
BURNS

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