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Cable en el que se pide a Bélgica que colabore en el cierre de Guantánamo

A finales de 2009, la Embajada en Bruselas trata de persuadir al Gobierno belga para que colaborar en el cierre de Guantánamo, una forma "de bajo coste" para ganar preeminencia dentro de Europa

ID: 236405
Date: 2009-11-24 14:00:00
Origin: 09BRUSSELS1580
Source: Embassy Brussels
Classification: SECRET
Dunno: 09BRUSSELS1493 09BRUSSELS1498 09BRUSSELS1552
Destination: VZCZCXRO7106
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHBS #1580/01 3281400
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 241400Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9730
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 001580

SIPDIS

STATE FOR THE SECRETARY, EUR/WE, ISN, S/GC, AND AF/C

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2019
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, ECON, BE, AF
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR BILATERAL MEETINGS WITH BELGIAN
LEADERS DURING THE SECRETARY'S DECEMBER 3-4 VISIT TO
BRUSSELS

REF: A. BRUSSELS 1498
B. BRUSSELS 1493
C. BRUSSELS 1552

Classified By: Ambassador Howard Gutman, reason 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Madame Secretary, Embassy Brussels welcomes
your visit to Brussels on December 3-4 and your meetings with
the in-coming Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, and the
Foreign Minister, most likely Steven Vanackere. Your visit
occurs at a moment when Belgians are poised to take a leading
role in Europe -- their former Prime Minister, Herman Van
Rompuy, has just been named as the first European Council
President under the new circumstances of the Lisbon Treaty,
and the Belgian government is preparing itself to hold the
rotating presidency of the EU Council for the six months
beginning July 1, 2010. Embassy Brussels believes that
properly motivated, Belgium can be a leader in mobilizing
Europe to assist the United States in meeting two of the key
challenges faced by the Transatlantic community --
Afghanistan and Guantanamo. Hopefully, long-simmering
tensions between the Flemish and francophone regions and
linguistic communities will not distract Belgium from this
opportunity. Other opportunities for cooperation exist on
Africa policy, nuclear disarmament in Europe and Iran. The
PM or Foreign Minister may try to promote the candidacy of
former Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel for the next
President of the UN General Assembly and may again raise
Belgium's failure to be included as a participant or observer
at the G-20 talks, despite being the 18th largest economy in
the world. End Summary.

TAKING A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN EUROPE
----------------------------------

2. (C) For the past few months, Embassy Brussels has been
working to set the stage for a change in Belgium's
self-concept as a small, meek country living in the shadow of
France and Germany, to a country that can show leadership in
Europe in spite of stretched financial and material
resources, mainly by becoming more vocal on the need for
Europe to assist in the closing of Guantanamo and on the need
to support the new Afghanistan strategy. Your visit is a
chance to foster and encourage this transformation. In fact,
of course, the transformation began at home in Belgium in
2007 when a new government, made up of a motley coalition of
Christian Democrats, Socialists, Liberals and Humanists from
both sides of the linguistic border, came to power. The
Prime Minister then, and now again with the departure of Van
Rompuy to the EU, was Yves Leterme, a Flemish Christian
Democrat. Formation of the government was delayed for nearly
a year because of difficult issues of power-sharing between
the French and Flemish communities, many of which still
remain to be solved.

STEPPING UP IN AFGHANISTAN
--------------------------

3. (C) Nevertheless, the new Defense Minister, Pieter De
Crem, with sometimes grudging support from Leterme and others
in the cabinet, reoriented Belgium's defense policy. Where
his predecessor had promoted a mainly humanitarian, EU and UN
support role for the Belgian military, De Crem sought to
re-establish Belgium as a small but reliable NATO ally. As a
result, Belgium's troop commitment to NATO ISAF operations in
Afghanistan has increased from about 250 troops to nearly
540, with further increases, perhaps to 680, in the offing.
Belgians provide security for Kabul airport, operate and
maintain six F-16's in Kandahar, run one Operational
Mentoring and Liaison Team in Kunduz with a second due to
arrive in January, and participate in a German-run PRT. This
increase has been achieved against a background of declining
resources which have required a thoroughgoing restructuring
of the armed forces and recall of peacekeeping troops in
Kosovo and Lebanon. The government has also bucked critics
inside and out of government who prefer a more pacifist, less
NATO-oriented approach and are ever ready to make political
hay out of possible casualties. Minister De Crem moreover
has reacted positively to suggestions from the Ambassador
that he become more vocal in his support as a way perhaps to
help shore up the support of other partners. Belgium
deserves your appreciation and praise for its efforts, and
although further increases in military contrib
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR BILATERAL MEETINGS WITH BELGIAN
LEADERS DURING THESECRETARY'S DECEMBER 3-4 VISIT TO
BRUSSELS

4. (C) On the other hand, Belgium's contribuQions to civilian
development in Afghanistan have not kept pace. In April
2009, the GOB announced that it was doubling its financial
assistance to the country to 12 million euros a year. This
figure is only about 0.75 percent of its global budget for
official development assistance. The Ministry of Interior
has been considering sending 2-4 police trainers to
Afghanistan but has hesitated over concerns for their
security. Your unambiguous urging of more civilian
assistance to Afghanistan with both the Prime Minister and
the Foreign Minister can help to increase resources devoted
to Afghanistan.

SPURRING ON CLOSURE OF GUANTANAMO
---------------------------------

5. (C) The Embassy has been encouraging Belgium to take a
leadership role in Europe in the closure of the Guantanamo
detention center. In October, Belgium resettled one
detainee, whose successful integration should be reassuring
to Belgian officials. We are discussing the transfer of two
Tunisian detainees who have already been convicted of crimes
in Belgium, not as part of the "placement" of detainees, but
instead as part of our Department of Justice working with the
Belgian Ministry of Justice (our hope is that that process
will make it easier for Belgian society to accept the return,
and also allow us to ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
separately to take others). We have also begun to suggest
the possibility of Belgium stepping forward from the chorus
line and up to the footlights on Guantanamo. Helping solve
the USG's -- and Europe's -- problem with Guantanamo is a
low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.
There are signs that Belgium's reticence is beginning to
chafe its leadership. Complaints about Belgium's exclusion
from G-20 membership, and opposition to perceived influence
of a "directoire" of large countries in the EU are examples.
It is a matter of convincing Belgium that not only does it
have self-interest in a more assertive role, but it also has
a uniquely trusted character within Europe that permits it to
be effective. Embassy Brussels suggests the time is right to
ask Belgium to take more than a handful of detainees and ask
in coordination with others (as led by Belgium), so that
Guantanamo -- which Europeans always so roundly condemned --
is closed once and for all.

POLITICAL PITFALLS IN REGIONAL TENSIONS
---------------------------------------

6. (C) With three regions, three linguistic communities,
seven parliaments and a myriad of political parties, domestic
politics and the division of powers in Belgium require a
complicated and delicate series of compromises. Herman Van
Rompuy, though Flemish, was one politician who seemed able to
gain the confidence and trust of both Flemish and francophone
Belgians. His most likely successor, Yves Leterme, is more
identifiably Flemish and does not share that reputation. One
difficult issue, Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, or BHV, symbolizes
the divisions and carries unusual emotional power in Belgium
(ref A). In essence, it is a question of whether residents
of the Brussels suburbs should live and vote under Flemish
control or have special francophone voting and social rights.
The issue impeded formation of a government after the 2007
elections and was kicked down the road ever since. A special
effort will have to be made before March 2010 to either once
again delay a solution or reach a final compromise. Failure
to do so could threaten Leterme's coalition in the first part
of the year. The fact that all Belgian politicians dearly
want to avoid embarrassment during Belgium's EU presidency
will motivate them to find the necessary compromises, but
there is no guarantee they can.

INTEREST IN ENHANCED AFRICA COOPERATION
---------------------------------------

7. (C) Central Africa is a special interest of Belgium, as
the former colonial power in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi. As such, the GOB is eager
to cooperate with the United States on encouraging security
sector reform in the DRC, consolidating peace in the Eastern
DRC, promoting regional economic integration and cooperation
among states in the region on security issues. In
particular, Belgium is as interested in preventing sexual
violence as we are. It would like us to encourage continued
cooperation between Rwanda and the DRC to take a firmer hand
with rebel groups that operate in Eastern Congo and far too
often commit atrocities. When you met Belgium's former

BRUSSELS 00001580 002 OF 003


4. (C) On the other hand, Belgium's contributions to civilian
development in Afghanistan have not kept pace. In April
2009, the GOB announced that it was doubling its financial
assistance to the country to 12 million euros a year. This
figure is only about 0.75 percent of its global budget for
official development assistance. The Ministry of Interior
has been considering sending 2-4 police trainers to
Afghanistan but has hesitated over concerns for their
security. Your unambiguous urging of more civilian
assistance to Afghanistan with both the Prime Minister and
the Foreign Minister can help to increase resources devoted
to Afghanistan.

SPURRING ON CLOSURE OF GUANTANAMO
---------------------------------

5. (C) The Embassy has been encouraging Belgium to take a
leadership role in Europe in the closure of the Guantanamo
detention center. In October, Belgium resettled one
detainee, whose successful integration should be reassuring
to Belgian officials. We are discussing the transfer of two
Tunisian detainees who have already been convicted of crimes
in Belgium, not as part of the "placement" of detainees, but
instead as part of our Department of Justice working with the
Belgian Ministry of Justice (our hope is that that process
will make it easier for Belgian society to accept the return,
and also allow us to ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
separately to take others). We have also begun to suggest
the possibility of Belgium stepping forward from the chorus
line and up to the footlights on Guantanamo. Helping solve
the USG's -- and Europe's -- problem with Guantanamo is a
low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.
There are signs that Belgium's reticence is beginning to
chafe its leadership. Complaints about Belgium's exclusion
from G-20 membership, and opposition to perceived influence
of a "directoire" of large countries in the EU are examples.
It is a matter of convincing Belgium that not only does it
have self-interest in a more assertive role, but it also has
a uniquely trusted character within Europe that permits it to
be effective. Embassy Brussels suggests the time is right to
ask Belgium to take more than a handful of detainees and ask
in coordination with others (as led by Belgium), so that
Guantanamo -- which Europeans always so roundly condemned --
is closed once and for all.

POLITICAL PITFALLS IN REGIONAL TENSIONS
---------------------------------------

6. (C) With three regions, three linguistic communities,
seven parliaments and a myriad of political parties, domestic
politics and the division of powers in Belgium require a
complicated and delicate series of compromises. Herman Van
Rompuy, though Flemish, was one politician who seemed able to
gain the confidence and trust of both Flemish and francophone
Belgians. His most likely successor, Yves Leterme, is more
identifiably Flemish and does not share that reputation. One
difficult issue, Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, or BHV, symbolizes
the divisions and carries unusual emotional power in Belgium
(ref A). In essence, it is a question of whether residents
of the Brussels suburbs should live and vote under Flemish
control or have special francophone voting and social rights.
The issue impeded formation of a government after the 2007
elections and was kicked down the road ever since. A special
effort will have to be made before March 2010 to either once
again delay a solution or reach a final compromise. Failure
to do so could threaten Leterme's coalition in the first part
of the year. The fact that all Belgian politicians dearly
want to avoid embarrassment during Belgium's EU presidency
will motivate them to find the necessary compromises, but
there is no guarantee they can.

INTEREST IN ENHANCED AFRICA COOPERATION
---------------------------------------

7. (C) Central Africa is a special interest of Belgium, as
the former colonial power in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi. As such, the GOB is eager
to cooperate with the United States on encouraging security
sector reform in the DRC, consolidating peace in the Eastern
DRC, promoting regional economic integration and cooperation
among states in the region on security issues. In
particular, Belgium is as interested in preventing sexual
violence as we are. It would like us to encourage continued
cooperation between Rwanda and the DRC to take a firmer hand
with rebel groups that operate in Eastern Congo and far too
often commit atrocities. When you met Belgium's former

BRUSSELS 00001580 003 OF 003


foreign minister, Karel De Gucht, last February, you
discussed naming a bilateral task force to meet in Washington
to discuss security sector reform in the DRC. This has not
yet occurred, because the Belgians opted to wait until the
new USG Africa team was in place. We are now ready to move
ahead with this. In November, Belgium announced an increase
in assistance to Burundi, making it the largest bilateral
donor to that country. It plans to do the same for the DRC.

MULTILATERAL APPROACH TO EUROPEAN DISARMAMENT
---------------------------------------------

8. (S) Belgium has a special interest in nuclear
non-proliferation issues because it participates in NATO's
nuclear forces at the Kleine Brogel air force base. It
rejected a recent overture from Germany to join with the
Netherlands, Italy and Germany to propose to the rest of NATO
that nuclear weapons be removed from those countries (ref B).
However, Belgian MOD and MFA officials apparently had to
rein in then-Foreign Minister Leterme when he initially
responded too positively to the idea. Belgium's official
policy rejects a unilateral approach to disarmament and
insists that the issue must be discussed among all NATO
members at one time, with due regard for U.S.-Russian
bilateral discussions and the NPT. The government is also
opposing a proposal from the floor of the Belgian parliament
to ban nuclear weapons from Belgian soil.

IRAN SANCTIONS IF NECESSARY
---------------------------

9. (C) Belgium shares our concern about Iranian efforts to
develop a nuclear capability. It supports strengthened
sanctions in the EU and UN if necessary. In that case, at
least at first, it prefers to see existing sanctions made
more effective, rather than extending them into entirely new
areas, with the possible exception of a conventional arms
embargo.

FORMER FM LOUIS MICHEL'S CANDIDACY FOR UNGA PRESIDENT
--------------------------------------------- --------

10. (C) One issue the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister may
raise is a request for support for the candidacy of former
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel for President of the UN
General Assembly (ref C). As you know, we do not discuss our
voting intentions for such posts. They have already
discussed this issue with Assistant Secretary Gordon and with
Ambassador Gutman.
.