US embassy cable - 06SANTIAGO1042

PRESIDENT BACHELET TOUTS CHILE'S TIES WITH EUROPE DURING VISIT TO SPAIN, AUSTRIA

Identifier: 06SANTIAGO1042
Wikileaks: View 06SANTIAGO1042 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Santiago
Created: 2006-05-17 21:48:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV VZ CI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #1042/01 1372148
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 172148Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9135
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0948
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAY 4612
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 0819
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA PRIORITY 0068
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0172
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SANTIAGO 001042 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR WHA/BSC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2016 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, VZ, CI 
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT BACHELET TOUTS CHILE'S TIES WITH EUROPE 
DURING VISIT TO SPAIN, AUSTRIA 
 
REF: A. SANTIAGO 00929 
 
     B. 05 SANTIAGO 02558 
     C. SANTIAGO 01034 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Craig A. Kelly.  Reasons: 1.4 (b and d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: President Bachelet traveled to Spain, 
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria May 8-14 on her first official 
visit to Europe as president.  During a state visit in Spain, 
Bachelet and Spanish President Zapatero signed a "strategic 
alliance agreement."  After visiting Chilean PKO troops in 
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bachelet attended the Latin 
America-Europe Summit in Austria and held a number of 
bilateral meetings there.  Bachelet reportedly referred to 
the EU as "Chile's most important partner outside of Latin 
America," and the EU urged Chile to promote its successes in 
the region.  Some members of the Chilean press have picked up 
on this theme and have suggested that Chile become more 
active in the region.  Bachelet and Chavez discussed possible 
Chilean participation in the Venezuelan oil sector, but did 
not discuss Venezuela's UNSC candidacy, according to a senior 
Foreign Ministry official who accompanied Bachelet.  During 
her meeting with Bolivian President Morales, Bachelet 
restated Chile's desire to conduct relations in an 
environment "free of restrictions and demands."  The GOC was 
surprised by Morales' decision to nationalize hydrocarbons, 
knowing it would pick a battle with Brazil, and is concerned 
the issue may impact regional stability.  End summary. 
 
First European Visit 
-------------------- 
 
2. (U) In her first trip to Europe as president, Michelle 
Bachelet traveled to Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 
Austria May 8-14.  During a state visit in Spain, Bachelet 
met privately with Spanish President Zapatero, attended a 
state dinner, and met with Spanish companies with interests 
in Chile.  According to a statement issued by La Moneda 
presidential palace, Bachelet and Zapatero signed a 
"strategic partnership agreement" to strengthen economic, 
cultural and political cooperation.  After a brief stopover 
in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she met with Chilean 
peacekeeping troops serving under EUFOR, Bachelet traveled to 
Austria to attend the EU-Latin American/Caribbean Summit. 
There, Bachelet held bilateral meetings with the leaders of 
Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Poland, Peru, 
Venezuela, and the United Kingdom, in addition to UNSYG Annan. 
 
3. (C) During the press conference following her meeting with 
EU officials, Bachelet called the European Union, "Chile's 
most important partner outside of Latin America."  In 
addition to sharing similar economic, political and social 
orientations, Chile and European nations "share similar 
visions about multilateral institutions, free trade and 
governance via coalitions."  EU President Barroso highlighted 
Chile's successes and urged the GOC to use its influence to 
promote those successes in the region.  Some Chilean press 
have picked up on these statements and are suggesting that 
Chile become more active in the region.  Foreign Ministry 
Director General Carlos Portales told the Ambassador on May 
16 that the GOC did not feel put out by such statements. 
Bachelet announced Chile would co-host a civil society 
meeting with the EU in the future.  She also noted that GOC 
and EU officials would convene technical talks later in May 
to explore further trade liberalization. 
 
Chavez' Charm Offensive 
----------------------- 
 
4. (U) Bachelet's May 11 bilateral meeting with President 
Chavez and other encounters in Vienna received considerable 
press coverage here.  These include photos of the Venezuelan 
leader placing his hands on Bachelet's shoulders and leaning 
his head on her head while the leaders were lining up for an 
official photo.  During their one-hour bilateral meeting on 
May 11, Bachelet and Chavez "discarded ideology" and 
discussed "bilateral issues and regional integration," 
according to a statement issued by La Moneda. Unnamed GOC 
officials were quoted as saying that Bachelet and Chavez 
discussed social programs in Chile and Venezuela, and energy 
 
issues within a regional context. 
 
5. (C) On the latter, FM Foxley told the press after the 
meeting that Bachelet and Chavez discussed possible Chilean 
cooperation with Venezuela in that country's oil sector, "We 
(Chile) want ENAP (Chile's state-owned oil company), in 
conjunction with the appropriate Venezuelan agency, to 
explore if they can work together."  Foxley explained that 
there are "areas in Venezuela where surveys of new fields 
could be realized."  (Comment: This is not the first time we 
have heard of possible Chilean participation in the 
Venezuelan oil sector.  Former Deputy FM Barros informed the 
Ambassador in December that Chile would increase temporarily 
its oil imports from Venezuela due to a decrease in Argentine 
exports to Chile and a lack of other viable alternatives 
(reftel B).  End comment.) 
 
6. (C) According to the Chilean press, Chavez did not press 
Bachelet to support Venezuela's UNSC candidacy -- a decision 
the Chilean press attributed to Chavez' desire not to spoil 
efforts to establish friendly relations with President 
Bachelet at a time when, "Chile does not want to upset 
relations with Washington."  Foreign Ministry Director 
General for External Relations Carlos Portales confirmed to 
the Ambassador late May 16 that Chavez did not raise the UNSC 
seat issue (reftel C).  Chavez's public response to a press 
question about Bolivia's demands for access to the sea ("We 
have decided to respect the bilateral nature of the issue") 
was interpreted in Chile as another indication of Chavez' 
desire to avoid confrontation with Chile. 
 
7. (U) Responding to a question during her joint press 
conference with Zapatero in Madrid, Bachelet dismissed the 
idea that an alliance between Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba 
would destabilize the region, adding that she did not want 
"to return to the Cold War era and demonize one or other 
countries."  During a subsequent press interview in Vienna, 
Bachelet denied that the different political and economic 
models pursued by Chile and Venezuela would provoke a 
division in South America.  On the same day, FM Foxley told 
the press that Bachelet had been clear in telling Chavez that 
"Chile has a way of doing things that sometimes can be 
different from the ways others do things."  That said, "Chile 
is a friendly country that will not judge anyone.  We are 
going to respect the path that another country chooses," 
Foxley added. 
 
Bolivia/Andean Free Trade 
------------------------- 
 
8. (U) Following her meeting with President Morales of 
Bolivia, Bachelet reiterated her desire to conduct relations 
in an environment "free of restrictions and demands", and one 
that takes into consideration "existing instruments" (i.e. 
international treaties).  In perhaps even stronger terms, FM 
Foxley said that "nobody is going to impose anything on us 
that is unreasonable and that does not protect Chile's 
interests."  MFA Director General for External Relations 
Portales told the Ambassador on May 16 that Chile was 
surprised by Morales' decision to pick a battle with Brazil 
over the hydrocarbon issue, and noted the GOC was concerned 
the issue may impact regional stability.  Portales added that 
Chavez's inflammatory statements about the Andean Free Trade 
Agreement with the U.S. were also worrisome. 
 
Reactions 
--------- 
 
9. (C) Foreign Ministry Special Policies Director Luis Winter 
told EPOL Counselor on May 17 that Foreign Ministry officials 
had not been briefed in detail on Bachelet's meetings in 
Europe.  Winter said MFA Director General for External 
Relations Portales was scheduled to brief him and other 
Foreign Ministry directors later that day (May 17).  Winter 
characterized the post-visit mood in the Foreign Ministry as 
upbeat, noting that the MFA was pleased with the positive 
words European leaders had for President Bachelet and Chile. 
 
10. (C) Our local diplomatic colleagues are also awaiting 
readouts from capitals.  The Polish Ambassador told EPOL 
 
Counselor that Polish President Kaczynski's talking points 
included the Venezuelan UNSC issue.  The Spanish DCM said 
that Madrid's points included concerns about Venezuela and 
Chavez in general.  Neither knew if the talking points were 
used. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (C) Bachelet's first two official visits abroad as 
president are indications of her desire to strengthen -- or 
reaffirm -- relations with MERCOSUR countries and the EU. 
The EU's glowing statements about Chile's successes, and its 
urging that Chile promote these successes in the Hemisphere, 
are positive and consistent with the messages we have been 
delivering to the GOC.  We do not yet know if any of the 
Europeans delivered any messages to Bachelet on Venezuela and 
the upcoming UNSC elections. 
KELLY 

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