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REFERENCE CLASSIFICATION CREATED LEAKED ORIGIN
09ATHENS1589 SECRET//NOFORN 10/30/2009 9:38 Embassy Athens
 
     
  SCENESETTER FOR ADM ROUGHEAD'S VISIT TO GREECE  
     
  S E C R E T ATHENS 001589

SIPDIS
NOFORN
FROM THE AMBASSADOR TO ADM ROUGHEAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/10/30
TAGS: MARR, MASS, PREL, PGOV, NATO, GR
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR ADM ROUGHEAD'S VISIT TO GREECE

CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador;
REASON: 1.4(B), (C), (D)

1. (C) Admiral Roughead: Welcome to Greece. You are the first and
most senior flag officer to visit Greece since the October 4
national elections. Admiral Stavridis (as SACEUR) and Admiral
Fitzgerald (as NAVEUR) visited Athens in late September. Your
visit comes as newly elected PM George Papandreou, with Ministers
and a Parliament now in place, begins to focus on the task of
governing. Greece's dire economic situation will force Papandreou
to make some tough decisions on the Greek military budget, and
creates a tough domestic political environment for him when his
post-electoral public opinion "honeymoon" is over. U.S.-Greek
military-to-military cooperation is good, particularly at the U.S.
Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay on Crete, which plays a key
role in supporting U.S. military operations in the eastern
Mediterranean and Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Greece is also among the largest purchasers of U.S. military
equipment. At the same time, Greece's participation in NATO is
politically sensitive with weak public support for NATO operations.
Beyond politics, Greeks have a deep respect and affection for
Americans in general dating to the Marshall Plan and earlier,
though a significant percentage of the younger generation holds
sharply negative views of U.S. policies.



2. (C) Your visit will continue the uptick in our bilateral
relations over the course of 2009, and can help advance some of our
policy goals both in Greece and the region. We are encouraging the
Greeks to:
-- live up to the commitment the previous government made to
President Obama to enhance their Afghanistan contributions;

-- continue their efforts and look for ways to expand cooperation
on counter-piracy, such as signing the New York Declaration;

-- continue to support Turkey's EU orientation;

-- seek to foster goodwill in the Aegean and reciprocate any
Turkish gestures, despite passionately held views and frustrations;
and

-- work vigorously to find a solution to the Macedonia name issue
that would allow Macedonia to join NATO and the EU and strengthen
stability in Greece's neighborhood.

---------------------

Political Overview

---------------------


3. (C) The twelve months leading up to the October 4 Parliamentary
elections were marked by a succession of crises for the government
of Prime Minister Karamanlis, who had managed to hold onto his
one-seat majority in Parliament through a series of intra-party
scandals, the global financial crisis, widespread rioting following
the police shooting of a teenager, resurgent domestic terrorism,
huge numbers of illegal migrants entering Greece, an increase in
Turkish military overflights of Greek islands, and most recently
the serious forest fires on the outskirts of Athens in August. On
September 2, a somber Karamanlis, in the face of constant attack by
the opposition and plummeting approval ratings, called for new
elections, which his New Democracy party lost by a decisive
10-point margin.

4. (C) New PM (and Foreign Minister) Papandreou has an American
mother, has lived and studied in the U.S., and having been Foreign
Minister under a previous PASOK administration, developed a good
reputation in the international community as a thoughtful and
constructive interlocutor. While he must use careful rhetoric
domestically to avoid the "Amerikanaki" (little American) label by
detractors, our recent engagements with him have been positive.
-----

ISAF

-----

5. (C) At every opportunity, and at every level, we encourage the
Greeks to contribute more to efforts in Afghanistan. The caveat
limiting Greek soldiers to Kabul was lifted in April 2009. Greece
has pledged to stand up a 17-person OMLT in Jan/Feb 2010 (though
that timeline appears to be slipping) and to take control of the
Kabul airport in April 2010. These new missions should result in
the near doubling of the Greek contingent from its present size of
approximately 150 personnel to nearly 300. However, the Greeks
are seeking to upgrade their force protection assets first, which
threatens the deployment timeline and potentially the deployment.
They seek 32 MRAP-type vehicles and 52 anti-IED ECM devices, and a
host of other equipment including armored dump trucks and
bulldozers. Our ODC recently forwarded to DOD planners the
detailed list of equipment the Greek military has told us they
needed to fulfill this deployment commitment, and which they seek
to procure from the U.S. at reduced cost. In parallel, we have
learned that the Greeks are making the same equipment requests of
the British, Australians and Israelis.



6. (C) Additionally, given the non-deployable nature of much
Greek military hardware, and the focus of much of it across the
Evro River and Aegean toward Turkey, we believe that a strong pitch
to the Greeks to provide materiel and financial assistance to
NATO's Training Mission in Afghanistan could bear fruit. Greek
participation in ISAF remains unpopular with the Greek population
at large, and any future casualties that can be attributed to
inadequate force protection measures could result in extreme
pressure on the Government to remove its forces from ISAF.


------------------

Counter-Piracy

------------------


7. (C) We share many common views with the Greeks on piracy, and
it is an issue where we can maintain a robust and fruitful
dialogue. Greece is a staunch supporter of our position that
opposes the creation of an international tribunal to try suspected
pirates. Greece views positively the recent creation of an
International Trust Fund under the auspices of the UN to help
defray costs of piracy trials in developing countries, and is
considering a donation. The MFA has urged Greek ship owners to
send captains and crew to testify in piracy trials in other
countries. Greece served as the flagship command of the EU's first
ever naval operation, Atalanta, off of Somalia last year, has a
frigate now in Atalanta's current rotation, and participates at
present in NATO's Ocean Shield through its rotational contribution
to NATO's Standing Naval Maritime Group 2.



8. (C) On the negative side, Greece declined to sign the New York
Declaration on the margins of the last plenary meeting of the
Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in September.
They cite concerns that the document added little value to existing
IMO guidelines, was not a negotiated, consensus-based text among
CGPCS participants, implied that merchant vessels should be armed,
and was provided to them too late to be staffed through their
interagency. They also disagree with us on the need to prosecute
piracy suspects in Greek courts. While Greece has the ability to
try suspects in Greek courts, the government has in practice taken
the stance that the flag nation of the vessel, not the nation from
which the ship owners come, should have primary responsibility for
prosecuting any piracy attacks against a vessel. Assistant

Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Shapiro during
his October 22-23 visit pressed the Greeks usefully on all these
fronts and was met with an open attitude by his interlocutors; your
visit presents a great opportunity to follow up with military
counterparts.



--------------------------------------------- -----

Turkey: EU Accession and Aegean Issues

--------------------------------------------- -----



9. (C) The Papandreou government continues its predecessor's
support for the accession of Turkey to the EU, but has told us that
they will not give a "blank check" to Turkey unless they see
satisfactory progress on key bilateral issues and Cyprus. Although
PM Papandreou is proud of his record of cooperation with Turkey
during his tenure as Foreign Minister (1999-2004), in campaign
interviews he warned that Turkey's EU aspirations could be "up in
the air" during its December 2009 EU evaluation should it continue
its present course of actions, particularly the provocative
overflights of Greek islands in the Aegean. Papandreou made a
well-received and much publicized snap trip to Istanbul on October
9, in the first days following his election, where he met with
Turkish PM Erdogan.



10. (C) Greece and Turkey still differ on a host of Aegean
issues, including air/seaspace demarcation, economic zones,
demilitarization issues, and flight safety requirements. Greece
often complains of Turkish air incursions in the Aegean, both
inside the Greeks' claimed 10 nautical mile airspace boundary
(which the U.S. does not recognize, because of the disparity with
their six nautical mile territorial sea claim), as well as within
the internationally recognized six nautical mile limits. To the
chagrin of Turkey, Greece "tags" as hostile unannounced Turkish
military flights in the Aegean, and Greek F-16s routinely intercept
Turkish aircraft. Armed, low-level Turkish overflights of the
inhabited Greek islands of Agathonisi and Farmakonisi dramatically
increased in 2009 compared to prior years, though the Turks
suspended these flights prior to the October 4 Greek elections, and
the suspension appears to have remained in effect. Both countries
have in the past attempted to use NATO exercises to press claims or
to make points. Should the Greeks raise this issue in your
meetings, we recommend taking an overall strategic approach that
emphasizes mutual respect, confidence building measures, and safety
of flight with both countries, while encouraging the Greeks to
respond positively to the cessation of Turkish overflights over the
inhabited islands. Suggesting that they should stop labeling
Turkish flights as hostile would be a good step, consistent with
what NATO has been encouraging in the past.

--------------

Other Issues

--------------

11. (C) OTHER MILITARY CONTRIBUTIONS: Greek contributions to
other important initiatives are substantial and should not be
overlooked. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force rely heavily on Naval
Support Activity Souda Bay in Crete as a support hub for sea and
air operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
(Comment: Although it is fine to thank them privately during
meetings, Greek public sentiment is generally anti-NATO, and
anti-American military, so the help Greece gives us at Souda Bay
and with frequent transshipments of ammunition are subjects they
would like to keep private avoiding any public acknowledgments.)
Greece allows over 24,000 over-flights of U.S. military aircraft a
year; participates in NATO's Operations Active Endeavour and Ocean
Shield, and in KFOR; the EU's counter-piracy mission off of Somalia
Operation Atalanta; and the UN's Lebanon mission, UNIFIL.


12. (C) U.S DEFENSE PROCUREMENT: Greece is a large purchaser of
U.S. defense goods. We have over $8 billion in FMS cases and there
is potential for more than $6 billion coming up for international
competition over the next two years, though Greek budget
difficulties may hamper that. At present, the Hellenic Navy has
identified two procurement efforts: the upgrade of 4 MEKO class
frigates, and the new construction of up to six air defense
frigates.


13. (C) IMMIGRATION: Greece has become an entry point of choice
for illegal immigrants into the European Union. The number of
illegal migrants detained by Greek authorities has increased
dramatically over the last two years, reaching 140,000 last year
(in a country with a population of only about 11 million). The
presence of these migrants - many of whom originated in conflict
zones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East and entered
Greece via Turkey - has become a major political issue. It also
roils Greek-Turkish relations on occasion, with the Greeks leveling
accusations that Turkey does not do enough to stop the outflow to
Greece, and indeed, aids and abets the illegal immigrants. Greece
is making a strong push for the European Union to take this issue
on and to negotiate repatriation agreements with source countries
such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.



14. (S) TERRORISM: Greece has also been burdened with a
resurgence of domestic terrorism. Following several years of a
lull with the wrap-up of the November 17 group, attacks are again
on the rise. On October 27, Greek terrorists opened fire on a
police station and fled the scene, wounding six officers, two
seriously. An ammonium nitrate car bomb was detonated at the
Athens Stock Exchange on September 2 this year, causing significant
material damage, and a police officer was murdered in June. The
U.S. Embassy suffered an RPG attack in January of 2007. The U.S.
has been offering technical assistance and sharing intelligence
through DHS, FBI, and other agencies, but the Greeks are woefully
unprepared for any significant increase in terrorist activity. We
are also concerned that the rise of Greece as a migration path from
troubled spots to Western Europe and vice-versa opens the door to
international extremists making a foothold here or using Greece as
a "safe house" for planning nefarious activities.

15. (S//NF) VADM KARAMALIKIS. Your counterpart, VADM Karamalikis,
is approaching the end of his normal tour of duty, due to expire
next February. Recent developments, however, may drive him to
submit his resignation immediately following your visit. Despite
this, your engagement with the Hellenic Navy is still valuable to
US interests. Potential successors include the current Deputy
Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, VADM
Elefsiniotis; current Chief of the Hellenic Fleet, VADM Karaiskos;
and current Deputy Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff, RADM
Vazeos; RADM Vazeos, however, is deemed by USDAO Athens to be an
unlikely candidate due to his junior rank.

16. (C) TYPE 214 SUBMARINE. The Hellenic Navy contracted for
four Type 214 submarines from German owned ThyssenKrupp. Four
hulls were built; one in Germany, and the other three in a Greek
Skaramanga Shipyard, partially operated by ThyssenKrupp.
Disagreements over perceived design flaws delayed delivery of all
four subs. As of today, production and fiscal difficulties on both
sides have resulted in the Germans pulling out of the deal. The
government of Greece is negotiating with the ThyssenKrupp regarding
the disposition of the four submarines, but it is likely the
Hellenic Navy will see none of the hulls commissioned into service.
This has direct impact on Hellenic Navy undersea warfare
capability.

17. (C) SKARAMANGA SHIPYARD. Skaramanga shipyard (formally
Hellenic Shipyard), the shipyard responsible for constructing three
of the four Type 214 submarines, is in danger of closing. The
closure would result in the loss of some 1300 jobs, the largest
shipyard in Greece and indigenous submarine construction
capability. Potential buyers from Sweden, Russia, China and Greece
exist, but the way forward depends on the resolution of the Type
214 contract.



18. (U) We are very much looking forward to your visit and
hosting you here in Athens.
Speckhard
 
     
 
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