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Viewing cable 10MUNICH29, GERMANY/BAVARIA: HORST SEEHOFER, MOSTLY FOCUSED ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MUNICH29 2010-02-16 08:08 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Munich
VZCZCXRO4185
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHMZ #0029/01 0470858
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 160858Z FEB 10
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5042
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000029 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2020 
TAGS: PREL PGOV INRB GM
SUBJECT: GERMANY/BAVARIA: HORST SEEHOFER, MOSTLY FOCUSED ON 
DOMESTIC POLITICS 
 
Classified By: Consul General Conrad Tribble for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d 
) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (C)  Horst Seehofer, an unpredictable politician 
struggling to regain his party's hegemony in Bavaria, 
revealed only shallow foreign policy expertise when he met 
Ambassador Murphy on the sidelines of the Munich Security 
Conference on February 6.  Seehofer, Minister President and 
leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), did not 
contradict the Ambassador when he reviewed the new NATO 
Afghanistan policy, which implied Seehofer was now on board 
with the German governing coalition in this respect.  Closer 
to home, he expected the trend away from the major political 
parties to continue in Germany, creating opportunities for 
numerous smaller parties to enter German statehouses. 
Observers of Seehofer and his leadership of the CSU may wish 
to take his public pronouncements with a grain of salt, 
especially when he contradicts or criticize American foreign 
policy goals as he did recently on Afghanistan.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (SBU)  Ambassador Murphy met with Bavarian Minister 
President and CSU Party Chairman Horst Seehofer on the 
margins of the Munich Security Conference on February 6. 
Referring to his recent visit to Afghanistan, the Ambassador 
told Seehofer how impressed he was with the German operation 
in the North, stressing the importance of the new Afghanistan 
strategy.  He praised the nomination of Volker Wieker to new 
Inspector General of the German Army, since Wieker had been 
General McChrystal's right hand and really knew what was 
going on.  The Ambassador further emphasized the point that 
2,500 U.S. soldiers would be sent to the North, but that 
Germans would be in control.  Maximum effort was necessary," 
he said, noting "if we don't try, we fail."  Turning to Iran, 
Seehofer asked about the Ambassador's assessment of Iranian 
Foreign Minister Mottaki's appearance in Munich, and Murphy 
answered that Mottaki's were rather vain and 
counter-productive efforts that could not be taken seriously. 
 
 
3.  (C)  In general, Seehofer had little to say regarding 
foreign policy and seemed uninformed about basic things.  For 
example, he expressed surprise when State Chancery Minister 
Siegfried Schneider, also present, emphasized that 20,000 out 
of the 40,000 U.S. soldiers in Germany were stationed in 
Bavaria.  The Ambassador emphasized the excellent 
Bavarian-American relations, stressing his visits to the 
Bavarian Representation in Berlin and the many business 
contacts.  Seehofer pointed to the economic/financial crisis 
and was not sure whether the EU would bail out Greece.  He 
called for better regulation of financial markets, adding 
that the CDU/CSU's coalition partner, the FDP, was still 
dreaming about "total liberty," yet the citizens were more 
realistic.  The Bavarian economy remained strong, he said, 
but despite relative low unemployment overall, Bavaria 
struggled with serious regional economic differences around 
the state.  "You no longer buy our cars," he joked.  The main 
problem for the Bavarian budget was the unresolved situation 
of BayernLB, he admitted.  Federal Health Minister from 1992 
to 1998, Seehofer expressed interest in the chances of 
success of the U.S. health reform, expressing his concern 
about 47 million Americans who had no health insurance. 
 
4.  (C)  The Ambassador and Seehofer agreed that the 
political landscape in Germany had changed radically over the 
past few years.  Seehofer did not dare predict an outcome of 
the May election in North Rhine Westphalia.  Everything was 
possible, he said.  German citizens no longer shrank from 
voting for the Left Party and in the long run, the SPD and 
Left Party would likely come together again.  Five to six 
parties now had a realistic chance of entering state 
parliaments, even in Bavaria. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
5.  (C) As chairman of one of the three parties that make up 
the governing coalition in Berlin, Seehofer frequently and 
quite publicly addresses sensitive political issues, 
including foreign policy.  Back in December, he gave an 
interview flatly rejecting an increase of German soldiers in 
Afghanistan, which startled many political observers, 
including CSU insiders.  We note that Seehofer has never 
professed to be a foreign policy expert.  His strengths are 
rather more in domestic politics.  The drop of public support 
for the CSU in recent elections has further encouraged 
Seehofer's natural instincts to utter populist pronouncements 
 
MUNICH 00000029  002 OF 002 
 
 
rather than substantive statements. 
TRIBBLE