Friday

30th Jul 2021

Cablegate: France bullied Poland over Georgia war

France threatened to harm a flagship EU policy for post-Soviet countries shortly after the Russia-Georgia war unless the Union forgave Russia for its invasion, a freshly leaked US cable says.

The November 2008 dispatch from the US embassy in Stockholm reports that Johan Frisell, a Swedish diplomat, told US charge d'affairs Robert Silverman that France pressured Poland and Sweden into lifting the Union's only post-war sanction on Russia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"France threatened to stall the Eastern Partnership initiative if the Swedes and others opposed to 'business as usual' with Moscow refused to resume EU-Russia talks, according to Frisell," Mr Silverman wrote. "Once the decision on talks on the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement [with Russia] was made, Sweden and Poland, co-drafters of the [Eastern Partnership] initiative, were given a green light to 'move ahead'."

The French support for Russia came at a time when Russian troops were still parked in Georgia proper in violation of a French-brokered peace agreement.

Previously leaked cables on the 2008 war show that France, Germany and Italy tried to soften the EU's reaction at every step of the conflict.

France later cemented relations with Russia by buying a stake in its Nord Stream gas pipeline and selling it two state-of-the-art warships.

The US memo also indicates that Poland and Sweden see the Eastern Partnership as a path to EU enlargement and security co-operation.

"Frisell said that the Eastern Partnership was essentially an 'invitation' to the six states to join the EU internal market," Mr Silverman noted. "'Profound EU integration is every bit as important as Article 5 [Nato's mutual defence pact],' he added. Moscow is 'agnostic' on European Neighborhood Policy, in part because it has seriously underestimated the impact of soft power. To the extent that the Eastern Partnership's related security co-operation remains 'under the Russian radar,' it will be successful."

Another cable out Monday (7 March) shows the influence on German politics of Matthias Warnig, a former officer in the east German secret police, the Stasi, who runs day-to-day affairs in the Nord Stream consortium.

"The [US] ambassador asked whether the project [Nord Stream] has the full support of the German government. Warnig said yes, noting that he has regular, direct access to Chancellor Merkel's office and that Nord Stream chairman Gerhard Schroeder also meets frequently with Merkel," the November 2009 dispatch from the US embassy in Moscow says.

Mr Warnig added that Russia's South Stream project, a plan to increase EU dependency on Russian gas, is a no-go, however: "He said that although he is a 'de facto employee of Gazprom,' he personally believes South Stream is unlikely to be built anytime soon."

A third fresh cable gives a peek into what Ukraine's new foreign minister, Konstantin Gryshenko, really thinks of Russia.

"Gryshenko said that the Kremlin wants a 'regency' - someone in power in Kyev who is totally subservient. He noted that Putin ... has a low personal regard for Yanukovych," Mr Yanukovych's minister told the US embassy in Kiev in January 2009.

"He observed that everyone in [the Russian government] government seemed to be part of the 'security brotherhood.' People are afraid to tell jokes; it is 'back to the USSR'," he added on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his allies in Russia's FSB security service.

Opinion

Can Greece work with Biden to solve the West Balkans impasse?

Greece has always been Europe's outlier. It faces an implacably hostile neighbour in Turkey under its assertive authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Until Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, Greece had no European Union member state as a neighbour.

EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension

The US remains closed to tourists from the EU and the UK - a situation that has prompted frustration and urgent calls for the reopening of international travel to vaccinated individuals by industry and countries.

Polish judges rally behind EU court ruling

Thousands of Polish judges, prosecutors and lawyers have rallied to support the primacy of EU law, amid demands for Poland to suspend a politically-charged disciplinary chamber for judges.

Opinion

Why 'Fit for 55' isn't fit for purpose

In a worst-case scenario, the EU's climate policies would exclude developing nations from international trade, forcing them to trade with each other, forming economic and environmental 'ghettos' while the wealthy West enjoys the benefits of free trade and clean energy.

EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates

The European Union has vaccinated 70 percent of its adult population with one shot. "The EU has kept its word and delivered," said EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. However, only 57 percent of adult Europeans are fully-vaccinated.

News in Brief

  1. France: UK quarantine rules 'discriminatory'
  2. Italy's government reaches deal on judicial reform
  3. EU adopts guidelines to 'climate-proof' infrastructure projects
  4. US backs WHO plan for further Covid-origin investigation
  5. EU to buy 220,000 supplies of potential Covid treatment
  6. Report: Balkan states seek 'mini-Schengen'
  7. Lithuania sees new spike in migrant crossings from Belarus
  8. Google challenges Germany's new hate-speech law

Opinion

Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?

After Brexit, the UK ceased to be a member of the Lugano Convention, an international treaty which governs cross-border civil and commercial legal disputes. In May, the European Commission published an opinion calling for the UK's re-application to be rejected.

Feature

'Prison island' birthplace of EU reborn as think-tank venue

Santo Stefano is being revived through a €70m refurbishment project to turn it into a high-level European think-tank, academy and open-air museum aimed at boosting the European integration project by training 'enlightened' EU youth, scholars and politicians.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Can Greece work with Biden to solve the West Balkans impasse?
  2. EU and UK frustrated at US travel ban extension
  3. Polish judges rally behind EU court ruling
  4. Why 'Fit for 55' isn't fit for purpose
  5. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  6. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  7. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?
  8. US maintains summer travel ban on EU tourists

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us