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Viewing cable 07PARIS1844, ENGAGING THE NEW FRENCH GOVERNMENT ON FOREIGN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
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