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Viewing cable 07BERLIN802, SCENESETTER FOR ANGELA MERKEL IN WASHINGTON: GOALS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BERLIN802 2007-04-20 07:07 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXRO1520
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHRL #0802/01 1100748
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 200748Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7989
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 000802 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2022 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECUN EU GM
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR ANGELA MERKEL IN WASHINGTON: GOALS 
FOR EUROPE, GOALS AT HOME 
 
REF: BERLIN 747 
 
Classified By: DCM John Koenig.  Reason: 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) Summary.  Angela Merkel arrives in Washington in an 
enviable position of political strength, both at home and in 
the EU.  However, she is conscious that her strength derives 
largely from the weakness of her counterparts and other 
factors beyond her control.  Achieving her goals for the EU - 
in the trans-Atlantic context these are focused on climate 
change and the Transatlantic Economic Initiative - will 
reinforce her position at home and in the EU, and serve as a 
springboard to success on the larger G-8 stage.  A success 
for Merkel is also a success for the U.S.  Even after the 
German EU Presidency, we will want the Atlanticist Merkel to 
remain a dominant force within the EU.  In Berlin, a 
successful summit will strengthen her and other 
trans-Atlanticists against those who favor a policy of vocal, 
public antagonism.  End Summary. 
 
Leading in the EU; Muddling Through at Home 
------------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Angela Merkel's role as Germany's and Europe's leader 
is undisputed.  No other leader of a large member state is 
politically fit enough to offer himself up as a leader.  Her 
leadership of the G-8 and Germany's intrinsic weight and 
economic recovery are further boosts.  At home, Merkel is not 
only riding high in opinion polls (70 percent popularity 
rating) and enjoying the benefits of leadership at a time of 
long-sought economic growth, but has also wrong-footed her 
coalition partner Social Democrats with reformist domestic 
social policies.  However, in both cases her apparent 
strength is not entirely of her own making, but derives in 
large part from her office, the weakness of her counterparts, 
or from other factors beyond her control.  She took the helm 
of the EU at a time when progress on the European project had 
largely come to a halt, when European institutions were 
unsure of how or in which direction to move, and (as noted) 
no alternative leaders were present. In Berlin, her coalition 
partner and rival, the Social Democrats (SPD), are dealing 
with weak leadership, a vacuum of ideas, and a challenge from 
the left. 
 
3. (C) Merkel has responded to these similar circumstances 
with quite different tactics.  In the EU, she has asserted 
German and her personal leadership over the Council 
Secretariat, especially with respect to her goal of 
 
SIPDIS 
developing a road map for furthering the EU constitution. 
She has sidelined Brussels by putting her own representatives 
on the road to discuss the constitution in other capitals and 
has weighed in personally as needed to find compromises that 
keep the constitutional project moving forward.  Likewise, 
she has vigorously pursued the Transatlantic Economic 
Initiative within the EU to remove regulatory barriers, and 
has pushed for agreement on the new EU climate change and 
energy initiatives.  She has not succeeded in all her 
undertakings -- prospects for a new EU Partnership and 
Cooperation Agreement with Russia remain distant, for 
example.  Still, the view that we hear from Brussels is of 
vigorous and effective leadership.  In Berlin, Merkel is 
known for her reticence to engage in aggressive politics, 
preferring to stay in the background until the "correlation 
of forces" is clear and then engaging to nudge the debate in 
her preferred direction.  Though the SPD is weak, Merkel has 
been reluctant to push it hard.  Her strategy appears to be 
aimed at building and consolidating her own and her party's 
dominance with a view toward a clear victory in 2009 
elections, rather than attempting to score victories now that 
could alienate significant voter groups. 
 
Washington: What's In It for Merkel 
----------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) We sum up Merkel's goal for the U.S.-EU Summit as 
being to achieve substantive progress in the U.S.-EU 
relationship for its own sake and to build a lasting 
foundation for her leadership in the EU and in Germany.  The 
substantive agenda is clear and we need not explore it in 
detail here.  It is focused on our political cooperation in 
key areas - climate change and energy security as well as the 
Transatlantic Economic Initiative.  We recognize that in 
these and other areas, European goals are not exactly aligned 
with our own.  Nonetheless, success in these areas, the 
former a key concern of European publics and the latter 
important to sustaining European growth, after a long period 
in which trans-Atlantic relations were dominated by negative 
headlines and exchanges focused on other regions, would prove 
Merkel's particular competence at succeeding in Europe's key 
external relationship.  After success in Washington, Merkel 
 
BERLIN 00000802  002 OF 002 
 
 
can count on maintaining her position in Europe against any 
incoming French President and UK Prime Minister-in-waiting 
Brown.  Success in Washington will also strengthen her hand 
in the follow-on summits with Russia, Canada, and Japan and 
sets the stage for success in G-8 summit deliberations on 
climate change. 
 
5. (C) At home, a Summit success may enable Merkel to end the 
SPD's ability to use loud, public "principled" criticism of 
the U.S. as a winning tactic.  Gerhard Schroeder won the 2002 
election with his public attacks on U.S. Iraq policy, but if 
Merkel brings home meaningful agreements -- especially on 
issues with domestic resonance such as climate change and 
trans-Atlantic economic cooperation -- she will have shown 
the German public that her policy of constructive engagement 
with the U.S. brings real benefits on issues of concern to 
it.  Foreign policy, especially trans-Atlantic relations, is 
one of the few areas where the SPD still enjoys greater 
public support than does the CDU/CSU.  Success in Washington 
may undercut the SPD on that theme, as the CDU/CSU has 
already undercut it on many domestic social themes. 
 
A Note on Style 
--------------- 
 
6. (C) Merkel is pushing for a Summit that is more than a 
predictable set-piece, quickly forgotten.  She looks for real 
decisions to be made during the Summit discussions.  This 
does more than just ensure that she has something important 
to do.  It emphasizes her personal commitment to restoring 
European-American relations and her belief in face-to-face 
engagement.  We recognize the difficulty of organizing 
discussions in this format, but believe we too stand to gain 
by such an approach. 
 
What's In This for Washington 
----------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Post has previously reported on Merkel's risk-averse 
approach to foreign policy.  We do not expect her to change 
her leadership style because of success in Washington.  The 
real benefits for the U.S. lie in how success will affect the 
public understanding of how Germany can best build a 
relationship with Washington and its view of the U.S., the 
changing of which is a frequent theme in conversations with 
German leaders and thinkers.  A successful Summit will also 
reinforce our message that the U.S. and EU are natural 
partners, closely bound by common interests.  As a cautious 
conservative in a difficult coalition, Merkel will not run 
great risks for the U.S.  But, if she can show the public 
that cooperation with the U.S. works, the effect will be to 
cut the risk she runs by cooperating with the U.S.  It is a 
more complex path to a closer and more effective relationship 
than we would perhaps like, but our observation of Merkel and 
our conversations with her advisors lead us to see it as the 
best path available. 
TIMKEN JR