Το απόρρητο τηλεγράφημα της αμερικανικής πρεσβείας στην Αθήνα με αριθμό 08ATHENS1517 φέρει το τίτλο »GREECE/RUSSIA: KEEPING THE GOG ON THE RIGHT TRACK» δηλαδή »Ελλάδα/Ρωσία: πώς η Ελληνική Κυβέρνηση θα κρατηθεί στο σωστό δρόμο» και δημοσιεύτηκε στον ιστότοπο wikileaks.org.
Το παρόν άρθρο πρωτοδημοσιεύτηκε στις 2/10/2017
Το τηλεγράφημα φέρει την υπογραφή του τότε πρέσβη στην Αθήνα, Ντάνιελ Σπέκχαρτ. Σε αυτό γίνεται μια αποτίμηση των Ελληνορωσικών συμφωνιών σε θέματα ενέργειας, άμυνας, διπλωματίας και εμπορείου, και πως αυτές επηρεάζουν τα συμφέροντα των ΗΠΑ. Εκείνη την εποχή η Ρωσία έχει εισβάλει στη Γεωργία και βρίσκεται αντιμέτωπη με τη σύσσωμη καταδίκη των χωρών της ΕΕ και των ΗΠΑ. Εν όψη της ανάληψης από τη χώρα μας της προεδρίας του ΟΑΣΕ (Οργανισμός για την Ασφάλεια και τη Συνεργασία στην Ευρώπη ), επισημαίνεται ότι η Ελλάδα, θα πρέπει να »έρθει» πιο κοντά στα αμερικανικά συμφέροντα. Οι παραδοσιακοί δεσμοί φιλίας και οι συμφωνίες που έχουν υπογραφεί μεταξύ Ελλάδας-Ρωσίας, όπως ο αγωγός South Stream, προκαλούν αρνητικό αντίκτυπο στις σχέσεις Ελλάδος-ΗΠΑ.
Παρά τις επίσημες δηλώσεις Κ. Καραμανλή και Ν. Μπακογιάννη που καταδικάζουν τις επιθετικές ενέργειες των Ρώσων, το τηλεγράφημα εκτιμά ότι η Ελλάδα θα συνεχίσει την ατζέντα της όσον αφορά την Ελληνορωσική προσέγγιση σύμφωνα με όσα »εκμυστηρεύτηκε» ο τότε γραμματέας της Βουλής Ν. Στεφάνου στην Αμερικανική Πρεσβεία, περί μεγάλων πιέσεων από τη ρωσική πλευρά. Αναφέρεται συγκεκριμένα η συμφωνία για την αγορά 450 τεθωρακισμένων ΒΜΡ-3 και η επικύρωση από την Ελληνική Βουλή της συμφωνίας για τον αγωγό South Stream.
Επίσης γίνεται παραδοχή ότι η αμερικανική πλευρά άσκησε και θα συνεχίσει να ασκεί μεγάλες πιέσεις προς την Ελληνική Κυβέρνηση να μην προχωρήσει στην υλοποίηση των συμφωνηθέντων. Συγκεκριμένα, όσον αγορά τους αγωγούς, η αμερικάνικη πλευρά αντιτίθεται στο σχέδιο για τον Ελληνορωσικο South Stream και θα πιέσει για την υλοποίηση του αγωγού TGI που θα μεταφέρει αζέρικο αέριο μέσω Τουρκίας και Ελλάδας, στην Ιταλία και τη Δ. Ευρώπη.
Στο τηλεγράφημα γίνεται αναφορά επίσης στην Αμερικανική δυσαρέσκεια για τη θέση της Ελλάδος στο σκοπιανό ζήτημα και στα συνεχή Ελληνικά βέτο για την ένταξη της »Μακεδονίας» στο ΝΑΤΟ και στην ΕΕ. Επίσης η Ελληνική Κυβέρνηση δεν φαίνεται διατεθειμένη να στηρίξει τις κυρώσεις σε βάρος του Ιράν εξαιτίας, σύμφωνα πάντα με το τηλεγράφημα, της εμπλοκής Ελλήνων εφοπλιστών σε οικονομικά deals με τους Ιρανούς.
Το τηλεγράφημα καταλήγει με μερικές προτάσεις στο θέμα της Ελλάδας. Συγκεκριμένα αναγνωρίζει το δικαίωμα της χώρας μας να διαφυλάσσει τα οικονομικά της συμφέροντα, αλλά όχι σε βάρος των κοινών υποχρεώσεων και θέσεων που απορρέουν μέσα από τη συμμετοχή στο ΝΑΤΟ και την ΕΕ. »Η Ελλάδα πρέπει να πειστεί με λόγια και πράξεις (both in word and in deed), ότι οι επιδιώξεις της θα πρέπει να έρθουν σε δεύτερη μοίρα απ ότι οι ευθύνες της έναντι των Ευρωπαίων και Νατοϊκών συμμάχων της».
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Classified By: AMBASSADOR DANIEL SPECKHARD. REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).
1. (S) SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION: In the aftermath of its incursion into Georgia and recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia has gone on a diplomatic offensive to justify its actions and to shore up its interests — particularly in the energy sphere — in the face of international criticism. Greece is on the front line of this offensive, due to its perceived favorable attitude toward Russia, on-going efforts to conclude energy pipeline deals, and professed desire to act as a «bridge» between Moscow and the West. While «no business as usual» was an important message for the Greeks during the initial phase of the Russia/Georgia crisis, we need to address the wider context and implications of Greece’s relationship with Russia. This is particularly important as Greece prepares to assume the position of OSCE Chairman-in-Office beginning in January 2009. END SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION. BACKGROUND: GREECE IN A TIGHT SPOT ———————————-
2. (S) The Russia/Georgia crisis put Greece in a tight spot due to its historically close ties to both countries. Wary of alienating Moscow with whom PM Karamanlis is eager to conclude energy pipeline deals, but spooked by Russian actions and the international community’s tough response, the GOG at first tried to remain silent on the crisis. Once an EU position took shape, Greece placed itself squarely behind France and began publicly supporting the common EU position. At EU and NATO meetings, FM Bakoyannis came out for the territorial integrity of Georgia and the need for the withdrawal of Russian troops to their pre-crisis positions. Perhaps most significantly, she made a statement following Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in which she expressed «regret» and joined the French Presidency in «condemning» the Russian decision. Though much less forthcoming, PM Karamanlis has also on two occasions spoken of the need to support Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Greece volunteered two observers for the initial ten-member OSCE mission and eight military personnel and two vehicles for the EU observer mission. Greece has also contributed substantial funding and materiel to humanitarian relief and reconstruction in Georgia.
3. (C) These developments notwithstanding, Greece also went forward with several moves that contradicted, if not undermined, Greek expressions of support for EU and Alliance positions. During the last week of August, Greece hosted Russian technical advisors to discuss Greek purchase of 450 Russian-made armored personnel carriers (BMPs) — part of the pipeline and arms deal signed by Putin and Karamanlis last December — and the Greek Parliament also ratified the South Stream gas pipeline agreement with Russia, following what Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Stephanou confided to us was «incredible pressure» from the Russians. (By contrast, the Austrians canceled indefinitely their negotiations with Moscow on South Stream. ref A.) On September 5, the Greek Culture Ministry and the Russian Embassy co-hosted a gala concert at the Herodion theater near the Acropolis, marking 180 years of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Athens. In her October 8 remarks delivered by Deputy FM Kassimis to a new «Greek-Russian social forum» in Athens, Bakoyannis was conciliatory toward Russia, noting not only its role in the energy sector but also its role in ensuring stability and security in Europe. PM Karamanlis has been even more generous to Moscow in his public remarks, underscoring the great significance of the Russian-Greek energy partnership.
4. (S) The U.S. made a strong push with the Greeks, urging them to delay or cancel these and any other similar events so as not to signal Moscow that it could expect to conduct «business as usual» with an EU and NATO member as long as it violated international law. The Greek response to us privately and their statements publicly stressed that there was «no connection» between the Russia/Georgia crisis and Greece’s commitments to move forward with its energy deals with Russia. They have argued that we should not «isolate» Russia and that Greece had a role to play as a «bridge» between Moscow and the West. In a major press conference in Thessaloniki on September 7, PM Karamanlis summed up the emerging dual-track Greek policy of supporting in words the EU’s political support for Georgia’s sovereignty, while in deed continuing to strengthen ties with Russia through energy pipelines and other economic measures. Karamanlis claimed the «principal position» of Greek foreign policy was to respect the territorial integrity of states, while at the same time he said it was the «responsible position» of the GOG to secure the country’s energy supplies through its pipeline agreements with Russia. IMPLICATIONS FOR THE U.S.-GREECE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP ——————————————— ———-
5. (S) Greece’s relationship with Russia in the aftermath of the Georgia crisis has important implications for a number of key issue areas in U.S.-Greek bilateral relations. In some areas, these implications are relatively straightforward; in others, they are much less clear and may only become more so as circumstances develop.
6. (S) INTERNATIONAL STRUCTURES: Greece is a soft target for the Russian diplomatic offensive and needs to be hardened for the sake of maintaining a unified NATO and EU position. Greece has thus far followed the Alliance and EU consensus positions on Russia/Georgia but has been amongst those countries arguing for greater accommodation of Russia. Greece is unlikely to take the lead on Russia issues in either institution but would eagerly join a Moscow-accommodating position led by Germany or another big ally. Greece could, thus, complicate U.S. efforts on the Russia-NATO Council or to take other measures adding substance to NATO and EU rhetoric on Russia/Georgia.
7. (S) One place Greece cannot escape a leadership position is at the OSCE when FM Bakoyannis assumes the position of Chairman-in-Office in January 2009. Even before the recent crisis, Russia had signaled that it sought fundamental changes in the OSCE that would in practice emasculate this key post-Cold War institution. These changes include an effort to control or scale-back ODIHR election-observer missions, which since the collapse of the Soviet Union have been essential to the defense and development of democratic values and practices; placing greater controls (i.e., weakening the independence of) OSCE field missions; and watering down Russia’s OSCE commitments under the guise of institutional «reform.» In this environment, Greece cannot rely on its traditional «bridge» or «split the difference» strategy, which would play right into Russian designs. Rather, we must press Greece to stand fast on OSCE commitments and democratic principles. This will be especially important in the transition phase to a new U.S. Administration in Washington when the Russians may think we have our guard down.
8. (S) ENERGY ISSUES: PM Karamanlis is committed to closer energy relations with Russia. We believe Karamanlis thinks he can mitigate potential downsides on the relationship with Russia by concurrently moving forward with the TGI pipeline, which he views as the second-half of a «balanced» energy policy. As much as we oppose Greece’s support for South Stream, we should take advantage of the pressure Greece feels to move forward on TGI. We believe Karamanlis, fully understanding U.S. anger over Parliamentary ratification of South Stream in September, instructed Development Minister Folias to attend the oil and gas conference in Baku the week of September 8 to continue the GoG’s push for upgraded Greek-Azerbaijani energy relations. Folias asked the Ambassador for U.S. support for the GoG’s dual initiatives of achieving agreement for the supply of an additional 1bcm of Azerbaijani gas to Greece starting in 2009 and for the signing of a four-way political agreement on TGI.
9. (S) For our policy on TGI to be effective, however, we will need to work with Washington and with our Embassies in Baku and Ankara to make certain that there is a viable Caspian gas-supply option. It is simply unrealistic to push the Greeks to move forward with obligating money for the construction of the interconnector to Italy if the viability of Caspian gas remains in question. That means resolving the Azerbaijan-Turkey transit dispute and pressing the GOAJ to sign supply agreements with Greece. As U.S. policy is committed first and foremost to: 1) completion of the Turkey-Greece-Italy (TGI) gas pipeline by extending the existing TG segment to Italy (completion of TGI is the opening wedge to begin delivery of Caspian gas to West European markets), and 2) keeping Turkey focused on the prize: getting Caspian gas to European markets, the transit dispute must be resolved in favor of providing enough gas for the sanction of TGI.
10. (S) TURKEY, CYPRUS, BALKANS: The Russia issue could have implications for our interactions with Greece on several regional issues because of the significant role Russia has played here, as well as Greece’s ability to play either a spoiler (as in the case of the Republic of Macedonia’s NATO bid) or stabilizer role. At the same time, predicting how these implications will play out is tentative, at best, given the complexity of the issues and the many unforeseeable factors. Greek-Turkish relations are a case in point. Greek-Turkish rapprochement has not met the earlier optimistic expectations raised by Karamanlis’ historic January 2008 visit to Ankara, and complaints about Turkey were high on FM Bakoyannis’ agenda for her meetings with S and P on the sidelines of the UNGA. The Russia issue, while not directly related to Greek-Turkish relations, could nevertheless be a factor. The Turks, while outwardly maintaining cordial relations with the Russians, have strongly insisted on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia (refs B, C, D). This could encourage Moscow to seek to strengthen even further its ties with Greece. On the other hand, the Turks could now have added incentive to move forward with ensuring energy flows through Turkish pipelines to Greece and beyond. As for the Cyprus issue, the Greek Cypriots are seen by Athens interlocutors to be even closer to the Russians than the Greeks and can probably expect strong support for their positions from Moscow in negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots.
11. (S) In the Balkans, Moscow has focused its efforts on building ties to those countries facing the longest roads to Euro-Atlantic integration, including Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia. Russia early on recognized the Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name and appears to be trying to strengthen its ties with Macedonia, particularly as the latter remains frozen outside NATO or the EU. Interestingly, Karamanlis — and seemingly all other pro-Moscow Greeks — have turned a blind eye toward Russian overtures to Macedonia. Events in Georgia have also added to our challenges in encouraging a Greek recognition of Kosovo. Greece has begun citing its «principled» approach of recognizing none of the break-away provinces, quietly hinting that it equates Kosovo with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Moscow’s diplomatic isolation also gives it added incentive to step up its relations with Serbia, a move Greece would support and one that can only further complicate Kosovo’s prospects.
12. (S) IRAN AND THE MIDDLE EAST: While the U.S. wishes to avoid «business as usual» with Russia, we remain committed to working with the Russians to contain the Iranians, and the Russians have signaled a reciprocal desire to cooperate. This development should help bolster European unity on the Iran issue, which had already shown improvement over the summer. The Greeks have been amongst those nations least interested in implementing sanctions against Iran, due primarily to Greek shippers’ extensive dealings with the Iranians. They should now have even less excuse to do so. As for other areas of the Middle East, any ramifications of Russia’s actions in the Caucasus on the Peace Process appear remote and, thus, would likely have little impact on FM Bakoyannis’ repeated desire for Greece to play a larger role in the Process. OPERATIONALIZING OUR MESSAGE —————————-
13. (S) In the post-crisis phase of Greek-Russian relations, we have moved beyond the message of «no business as usual» to a broader message that aims to shore up Greek resolve to adhere to international principles in relations with Moscow, while recognizing legitimate Greek interests in doing business with the Russians. It will be important to balance recognition of Greece’s legitimate foreign policy and economic interests in its relations with Russia with firm insistence on Greece’s adherence to EU and Alliance positions and OSCE principles, both in word and in deed. We will want to acknowledge Greece’s need to maintain diverse sources of energy and right to secure these sources through agreements with the countries it chooses, including Russia. In pursuing its energy interests, Greece has taken some positive steps, including strengthening ties to Azerbaijan and moving forward on TGI. We also would want to applaud the positive things Greece has said and done regarding Georgia. At the same time, we must insist that Greece’s pursuit of these business interests cannot come at the expense of, and indeed must be subordinated to, Greece’s larger responsibilities to its European and NATO allies. This is particularly important as we move toward FM Bakoyannis’ Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE beginning January 1. We must underscore during this transition period that the United States’ commitment to the democratic principles of the OSCE will remain the same through the rest of this Administration and into the next. The Greeks should not succumb to Russian arguments for «splitting the difference» on OSCE issues or think that the election is likely to result in a significant change in U.S. and Allied concern over an increasingly aggressive and authoritarian Russia.