|Wikileaks:||View 05PARIS1055 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL FR TU IZ SY UK EUN LB PINT|
|Redacted:||This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001055 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2015 TAGS: PREL, FR, TU, IZ, SY, UK, EUN, LB, PINT SUBJECT: FRENCH FORMER PRESIDENT GISCARD D'ESTAING ON TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS, EU, AND FRENCH POLITICAL SCENE Classified By: Josiah Rosenblatt, PolMinCouns, Reasons 1 (b) and (d) SUMMARY -------- 1. (C) Former French President Giscard d'Estaing, over lunch February 16, told Ambassador Leach that he had been impressed by Secretary Rice on her recent visit to Paris. He thought that following the Iraqi elections and the constitution of an Iraqi government, France would be more open to assisting Iraq, short of sending troops. Giscard, who presided over the Convention which drew up Europe's constitutional treaty, called for greater public support from the U.S. for a strengthened EU. He did not think it would be possible to amend the constitution for quite some time, but eventually it would be necessary to introduce more direct public participation in electing the EU's leadership. Giscard made his familiar case against Turkish entry into the EU, and regretted U.S. support for Turkey's candidacy. Giscard thought the French referendum on the constitution would pass, predicting support around 53%. However, intervening events could affect the outcome. Distinguishing his approach from that of President Chirac, who has advocated "multipolarity," Giscard argued that the U.S. should welcome a strong Western partner in dealing with emergent China and India. Giscard foresees both Chirac and Nicholas Sarkozy running for President. With many scores to settle with Chirac, Giscard noted the difficulties his old rival faces, but he clearly does not count him out. End Summary. Secretary's and President's Visits, U.S. Support for the EU SIPDIS --------------------------------------------- -------------- 2. (C) Giscard, who was a first-row attendee at the Secretary's speech at Sciences-Po, said he thought her visit SIPDIS had gone well. She had conveyed effectively the Administration's desire to work cooperatively with Europe. She had projected well, coming across as someone who is thoughtful, intelligent, and fully in control of her brief ("she clearly wasn't just reading a text"). Giscard also noted that the new Administration's foreign policy team is well regarded in Europe. The Secretary's visit came on the heels of the Iraqi elections -- "a good first step" -- which had strengthened her hand. Giscard said he believed France would now show greater openness on Iraq. While military involvement will remain taboo, France should be able to engage in other ways, such as training. The next phase opens when the newly constituted Iraqi government requests support from Paris. The GoF should be able to respond affirmatively. 3. (C) Segueing from Iraq to the EU, Giscard commented that the schism that had opened in the EU over Iraq was in the process of healing. The U.S. should value EU unity as well as the strengthening of the EU, represented by the constitutional treaty. Assured by Ambassador Leach that the U.S. is supportive, Giscard called for an expression of support by President Bush, possibly in connection to his visit to the continent next week. Ambassador Leach reminded Giscard of the several recent occasions when the President and the Secretary had called for strengthened ties with our European partners, and of the outreach the President's and the Secretary's visits to Europe represent. Giscard spoke of the need for a core EU group, consisting of France, Germany, and the UK, along with Italy and Spain, that the U.S. should be prepared to work with. Giscard surmised that Tony Blair intends to "implicate the UK" to a greater extent in the EU once his own elections are behind him. The U.S. should welcome this, as it should support a strong EU. It is not healthy, after all, for the U.S. to be the only strong Western country. A rising China and a rising India will not be all that easy to handle for the U.S. alone; it should have a strong western partner. Giscard took the Ambassador's point that Chirac's approach seems to be not only to identify other "poles," but to strengthen them, whereas the U.S. and Europe, sharing the same values, need to work together to achieve common objectives. The EU Constitution, Turkey --------------------------- 4. (C) Addressing the EU constitution, Giscard commented that its implementation will give the EU greater visibility on the international scene. That said, the debates on the constitution in Europe are national debates. Only between France and Germany is thought being given to the creation of a "unitary society." Responding to the Ambassador, Giscard stated that once adopted, the Constitution would remain unchanged for quite some time. It represents the maximum that could be agreed. One problem that will need to be handled is the financing of the system. Without a tax or a revenue base, the EU will not have the means to implement its policies. The system, he continued, is currently blocked. The UK will not give up its rebate until after its elections, while the Germans, Dutch and Danes will not agree to continue to finance the rebate. The EU will eventually also have to address how to amend the constitution. A way needs to be found to increase the number of areas in which issues can be decided by qualified-majority voting, but the UK and probably others cannot yet countenance this. Giscard, predictably, regretted U.S. public backing for Turkish entry into the EU. He laid out his well-known objections. Just as its members are giving the EU greater powers, with decision-making based partially on demography, Europeans are being asked to contemplate turning over a significant say in their own affairs to an Asian and Muslim country. We should not forget what happened to Iran, which under the Shah was another modernizing Muslim country. Turkey for its part, is being set up for a fall. The Turks envision EU membership largely as financial transfers and an open labor market; they will be satisfied on neither score. The UK supports Turkish membership because it is convinced the effort will fail. A better alternative would be to define a European Economic Space within which the EU would contribute to Turkey's economic development. Its content would be negotiated between the EU and Turkey. 5. (C) Giscard agreed with the Ambassador that the EU election process keeps it at a remove from the public. The Constitution represents what the traffic could bear at this time, but admittedly doesn't go far enough in this respect. The next step, whenever it comes, should be election of the EU executive by a college of European Parliament deputies plus, in equal number, members of national parliaments, amounting to some 2,000-3,000 persons. While a direct election would provide even greater legitimacy, that is a remote prospect, perhaps 30 years in the future. (Is Europe ready for a German leader, asked Giscard. German is the most widely spoken first language in Europe; any candidate with hopes of winning would have to speak it.) Giscard also noted that Ukraine, more "European" than Turkey, has suddenly appeared as a prospective candidate, just at the moment when sentiment has turned against enlargement. Giscard commented that while enlargement had probably proceeded too quickly, this was due to circumstances over which the EU had no control -- the breaking apart of the Soviet bloc. That said, Europe could have integrated its members in stages, beginning with Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. French Referendum, 2007 Presidential Elections --------------------------------------------- - 6. (C) Giscard said he thought the referendum on the constitution (likely to be held in late May) would pass, with support in the range of 53 percent. Intervening events, unpredictable at this time, could shift the political landscape. Key questions remain: Will the participation rate be sufficient to make for a convincing victory? Will the French electorate be tempted to use the referendum as a means to register discontent with the government or opposition to EU enlargement? Giscard thought Blair's rationale for placing Britain at the end of the referendum queue was to raise the stakes for the British electorate -- confronting it with the choice between approving the constitution or leaving Europe. 7. (C) Interestingly, Giscard brought up the French presidential election, saying he thought both Chirac and Sarkozy would run. Chirac would be handicapped by a general sentiment that Presidents should be limited to two terms, and that it may be time for a generational change. Sarkozy would seek to amass overwhelming support, in the range of 75 percent, in the majority party, the UMP, which he heads. The Socialists, he agreed, have no obvious leader, nor does it have a clear policy. It will be faced with its usual dilemma of how to appease the extreme left while remaining an option for centrist voters. Leach
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