EU TELLS PRESIDENT ISAIAS HE IS KEY TO STABILITY IN HORN

Identifier: 
07USEUBRUSSELS1502

C O N F I D E N T I A L USEU BRUSSELS 001502

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR AF/E SARAH SKORUPSKI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2017
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, EUN, EAID, BE, FR, IT, NL, UK
SUBJECT: EU TELLS PRESIDENT ISAIAS HE IS KEY TO STABILITY
IN HORN

REF: STATE 59532

Classified By: Political Officer Vincent Carver for
Reasons 1.4 b and d

1. (C/NF) Summary: European Commissioner Louis Michel met May
4 with Eritrean President Isaias to stress Eritrea's role in
promoting regional peace and stability. Michel delivered a
harder message during a separate one-on-one meeting in which
he expressed EU displeasure with Eritrean violations of human
rights and Vienna Convention obligations, according to
Michel's staff. Isaias reportedly said Eritrea will not
support the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) in Somalia to the
point of creating "Iraq-like" sectarian violence. When
Isaias mentioned his poor relations with the U.S., Michel
said he should be aware that the U.S. is Europe's closest
partner. End summary.

2. (C/NF) Roger Moore, Commission Director for the Horn of
Africa and East and Southern Africa, told us May 4 that the
EU's general message to Isaias was that he is respected and
counted on to play a role of peacebuilder and statesman in
resolving regional problems. The Commission believes that,
like him or not, Isaias should be courted because of his
importance in the region. Moore said Isaias acts like a
child who stamps his feet and throws a tantrum if he believes
he is not being respected. The EU therefore has decided to
engage him and cooperate to the extent possible in the hopes
of improving the political and humanitarian situation in
Somalia and other parts of the Horn. The problems of human
rights abuses, Vienna Convention violations, and other
troubling actions by the Government of the State of Eritrea
(GSE) outlined in reftel were discussed in a separate private
meeting between Isaias and Michel, Commissioner for
Development and Humanitarian Assistance, so as not to
embarrass Isaias in front of others, Moore said.

3. (C/NF) Isaias told Michel that he does not want to be a
spoiler in the region and will not continue to back the CIC
in Somalia to the point of creating sectarian violence like
that seen in Iraq, according to Moore. Isaias recommended
that Western and other interested countries articulate a plan
for what they want in Somalia, including whether they support
physical division of the country or unity at all costs, and
what exactly is meant by statements expressing the need for
the TFG to be inclusive. Moore said the EU was impressed by
Isaias's analysis of Somalia, which he characterized as "not
far from ours."

4. (C/NF) Isaias told the EC he has great difficulties in
relations with the U.S. Michel told Isaias that the U.S. is
Europe's closest partner and that Isaias should take that
into account when deciding how to proceed with the U.S.,
Moore said.

5. (C/NF) The EC also discussed renewed development
cooperation with Isaias. Moore said last year's food
confiscation issue resulted from a misunderstanding on the
GSE's part that the EC would only support food-for-work and
not cash-for-work when, in fact, the EC does support
cash-for-work exchanges. After a series of such missteps in
the past year, including cancellation of a 45 million euro
road project, development cooperation between the EU and
Eritrea is now back on track, Moore said. Cabinet-level
representatives from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan,
Kenya, Uganda, and Djibouti met in Brussels April 23 to
discuss development cooperation. Moore said the meeting was
at times contentious, but mostly cooperative, and can perhaps
evolve into a forum for discussing broader regional issues in
the future.
MCKINLEY
.