[09ATHENS1717] INFORMAL ADVISOR TO PAPANDREOU SHEDS LIGHT ON GOG INTERNAL DYNAMICS AND REGIONAL CHALLENGES

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Published by Wikileaks & Bivol.bg
 date: 12/20/2009 22:05 refid: 09ATHENS1717 origin: Embassy Athens classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN destination:  header: VZCZCXYZ1675 RR RUEHWEB  DE RUEHTH #1717/01 3542205 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 202205Z DEC 09 FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1241 INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0216 RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 0034 RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 0035 RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS   ----------------- header ends ----------------  C O N F I D E N T I A L ATHENS 001717    SENSITIVE  SIPDIS  NOFORN    E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/21  TAGS: PREL, PGOV, GR, TU, MK, CY  SUBJECT: INFORMAL ADVISOR TO PAPANDREOU SHEDS LIGHT ON GOG INTERNAL  DYNAMICS AND REGIONAL CHALLENGES    CLASSIFIED BY: Daniel V. Speckhard, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)    SUMMARY    ------------------------------------    1. (C) PolCouns and PolOff met December 3 with Paulina Lampsa, head  of the PASOK International Secretariat, to discuss internal  dynamics and key players in the Papandreou Administration and the  current state of play in Cyprus and Turkey.  Lampsa discussed her  role and that of other semi-official advisors to the government,  while also acknowledging public concerns over the abundance of  backchannel conversations.  Recently in Cyprus, Lampsa highlighted  several potholes to be navigated in Cypriot internal politics and  also raised concern about Greek economic and media opposition to a  solution.  Turning to other regional matters, Lampsa talked about  the need for the government to develop an overall strategy on  Turkey and for Alternate Foreign Dimitris Droutsas to be given  more time to   work the Macedonia name issue. In her estimation the  election of Antonis Samaras as the new leader of main  (center-right) opposition party ND will make it harder for Prime  Minister George Papandreou to navigate a way forward on these  issues.        INFORMAL ADVISORS    ----------------------------------------    2. (C). Paulina Lampsa, the International Secretary for PASOK and  an informal advisor to PM Papandreou, is a regular contact of the  political section at Embassy Athens.  She oversees Papandreou's  international travel and work as President of Socialist  International. She is also responsible for managing Papandreou's  non-diplomatic networks and advising on foreign policy and  communication strategies.  She runs a small but expanding office  that is set apart from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and PASOK  party headquarters.  Lampsa held this position prior to PASOK's  electoral win in October and says that she asked to stay on in her  current role, rather be brought into government as a Deputy  Minister.  Preferring to work directly for Papandreou, Lampsa did  not want to have to report to a different Minister.  She  "sometimes" coordinates with the MFA but otherwise acts as a direct  informal advisor to PM Papandreou, before input is sought within  the government.        3. (C) Lampsa noted that Alex Rondos has also been acting as an  informal advisor out of the limelight and has been taking on  special cases and projects on behalf of the Prime Minister.    Although an informal advisor herself, Lampsa acknowledged the  potential for confusion and crossed lines, expressing concern that  there was too much "secret diplomacy" going on within the current  administration and that many at the working level in the MFA were  not receiving information on sensitive issues.  In her words,  "there is a danger in not informing government of where they are  getting information."        CYPRUS    -------------------------    4. (C) Lampsa described the timeline for movement in Cyprus to be  between now and mid-February, seeing upcoming elections in the  "TRNC" as more of a driving force for progress than December EU  meetings to discuss Turkish EU accession.  Both the Greek Cypriot  and Turkish Cypriot leaders understand that movement is needed in  order to demonstrate their positive leadership going into the  election.        5. (C) Qpsa recently met with Republic of Cyprus President  Demetris Christofias and assesses that he wants to "move" on the  issues being negotiated and is working with Greece to determine the  best way to bring about progress.  However, several internal and  external issues block movement.  Lampsa expressed concern that  certain factions within both Cyprus and Greece oppose a solution  and will actively work against resolution and reunification of the  island.  Christofias cannot trust elements in his own coalition      government. Lampsa described Christofias as having a "communist  party mentality" where interlocutors have to read between the  lines; some messages are not clear.        6. (C) Lampsa also assessed that internal dynamics at play in  Cyprus make it hard for Greece to work issues through the "right"  channels.  As an example, Lampsa said that Cypriot President  Christofias does not trust his Foreign Minister and therefore Greek  messages passed through the Cypriot Foreign Ministry will not  elicit the desired response.  However, Christofias would never  publicly undermine FM Kyprianou and therefore messages continue to  be communicated through foreign ministry channels.        7. (C) Lampsa's assessment is that a carefully crafted media and  communication strategy is sorely needed, in order to pave the way  for public support for a solution.  There should be coordinated  messages delivered by the leadership but also via influential  columnists with the ability and legitimacy to advocate for a  solution and explain the dangers posed if current talks fail. The  time to move on these efforts is now.        8. (C) Certain media and economic personalities in Greece are also  opposed to a solution.  In particular, Lampsa sees the Bobolos  media group, including newspapers Ethnos, Protothemis, Parent,  Makedonia (in Thessaloniki) and the Mega Channel on television as  working against the process.  On the other side, Lampsa said the  Lambrakis media group (which includes Ta Nea, To Vima and the  influential website INGR) and certain elements associated with  Kathermerini are willing to support resolution of the Cyprus  conflict.  (Comment: In our estimation, the Greek newspapers  referenced above are not necessarily as influential as the  newspapers in Cyprus itself. Television stations in Cyprus may be  somewhat anti-Annan plan but are not necessarily anti-solution.)        GREEK- TURKISH DIPLOMACY: NEED TO DESIGNATE A NEW POINT  PERSON--------------------------------------- --------------------    9. (C) Lampsa characterized Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan as being  less predictable than Papandreou's former Turkish interlocutor,  Ismail Cem.  The Greek administration knows relations will be "very  sensitive" around the time of the December EU summit, and will  therefore proceed with caution.        10. (C) Lampsa seemed perplexed by the amount of information on  recent Greek-Turkish interactions that Turkey was sharing publicly,  citing Turkish officials' public comments on a letter from Turkish  PM Erdogan to Papandreou and recent meetings with both Turkey's  Foreign Minister and Chief EU Negotiator as examples.  In contrast,  information seems to be tightly guarded on the Greek side; Lampsa  claimed that the Greek MFA's Turkey desk is not necessarily in the  loop regarding high-level discussions with the Turks.  She has  lobbied in favor of designating a point person - with access to the  Prime Minister's cabinet - to work on an overarching strategy for  Greek relations with Turkey. Pavlos Apostolides has been rumored  for the position. (Note: Currently an advisor at the Athens-based  think tank ELIAMEP, Apostolides has held several high profile  government positions, including Greek Ambassador to Cyprus,  Permanent Representative to the European Union Secretary General of  the MFA and Director of the National Intelligence Agency. End Note)              EFFECT OF NEW ND LEADERSHIP ON DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICS    --------------------------------------------- -------------------    11. (C) With the election of Samaras as the head of center-right  opposition party New Democracy (ND), Lampsa estimates that  Papandreou's PASOK-led government will face greater criticism and  constraints in negotiations with Skopje and Ankara.  Samaras, who      was the more conservative of the main candidates in the ND  leadership race, is expected to try to woo far-right LAOS party  members into his camp.  In turn, this could shift the ND party to  the right.        12. (C) Lampsa also expressed concern with Samaras' choice of Panos  Panayotopoulos as the new ND party spokesman, claiming that  Panayiotopoulos is known for his nationalist rhetoric and may try  to bring nationalist language into mainstream discussions.  (Note:  Panayotopoulos was Minister of LQr under the Karamanlis Sr.  administration and is currently a Member of Parliament.  Samaras  appointed him as the new ND spokesman the first week of December.  End Note)  Samaras' rumored pick for a shadow cabinet position,  John Korantis, would also be problematic in Lampsa's view because  of his former role as the head of the Greek National Intelligence  Agency and the possibility that he could leak sensitive  information.  Speckhard 
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