Mugabe’s presence in Lisbon bad for Portugal


The United States embassy in Lisbon said although Portugal had tied to deflect diplomatic conflict over President Robert Mugabe’s attendance of the European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon, the negative ramifications of Mugabe’s presence could overshadow any accomplishments.

Mugabe was subject to an EU travel ban.

Britain, the Netherlands and others had indicated that they would not attend the summit at the head of government if Mugabe was present.


Full cable:



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Reference ID





2007-09-07 16:09


Embassy Lisbon




DE RUEHLI #2307/01 2501609


P 071609Z SEP 07





S E C R E T LISBON 002307








E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/07/2017





Classified By: Ambassador Alfred Hoffman for

reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).


1. (SBU) Mr. President:


Your meeting with Prime Minister Socrates — two months into

Portugal’s EU presidency — provides an excellent early

opportunity to try to shape the Portuguese government’s

priorities in a direction consistent with U.S. interests,

both from a bilateral perspective and in the EU context.


Portugal – A Steadfast Ally



2. (C) Portugal, a founding member of NATO, is a steadfast

ally that has consistently stood by our side over the years

under both center-right and center-left governments. The

President and Prime Minister — from opposing political

parties — each regularly stress that trans-Atlantic

relations are a pillar of Portuguese foreign policy and that

NATO is the primary guarantor of European security. At our

request, Portugal ultimately withdrew its leading candidacy

to host the 2008 NATO Summit in favor of Romania. In return,

the USG agreed to support Portugal’s bid to host the 2010

NATO Summit.



3. (SBU) Portugal has provided virtually free access to

Portuguese air and seaports for military support operations

in Iraq and Afghanistan, with over three thousand flights a

year transiting Lajes Air Base in the Azores. It has also

granted permission to use Lajes in support of repatriation of

detainees from Guatanamo. Despite severe budgetary

constraints, it is currently engaged internationally on

numerous fronts with military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan

(where it has lost one soldier), East Timor, Kosovo, and

Lebanon, and, until recently, in Bosnia and the Congo.

Portugal has been an outstanding partner in the war on terror

and collaborates actively with us as a member of the

Proliferation Security Initiative, the Container Security

Initiative, and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear



EU presidency priorities



4. (C) While agreement on the shape of a new EU treaty was

achieved during the German presidency, detailed negotiation

and signature of the document have fallen to the Portuguese

presidency, which hopes to secure endorsement of a final text

by the heads of government meeting in December. This

internal EU task has not derailed Portugal’s external policy

goals, but it has absorbed scarce resources and high-level

attention within the Portuguese government.


5. (U) Socrates and other senior Portuguese officials have

noted that the EU’s biggest foreign policy concern is along

its southern and southeastern borders, which are threatened

by radical Islam and poverty. He has proposed strengthening

the EU’s ties to Washington, Moscow, and Mediterranean

countries to help contain radical Islam in that region; this

strategy includes lending strong support to Turkish accession

to the EU, involving the EU more closely in the Middle East

Peace Process, and strengthening the EU’s economic and

cultural ties to the region through the Barcelona Process.


6. (C) So far during their Presidency, the Portuguese have

taken a primarily facilitative approach, seeking broad

consensus on most issues. They have dedicated their

individual efforts to the few issues they care most about: a

strategic partnership with Africa and the Middle East

processes noted above. Beyond those issues, the Portuguese

governmental structure has engaged in efforts to strengthen

EU ties with Brazil, India, China, Russia, and Ukraine

through high-profile summits.


7. (C) The EU-Brazil summit in Lisbon the first week of

Portugal’s presidency was successful in establishing a

long-term relationship with a significant partner and

energizing the debate in Europe on biofuels. Portuguese

interlocutors candidly told us that they did not expect much

and that the summit was only the first step toward an

EU-Brazil strategic partnership, but that they were delighted

with the outcome. We believe this may raise Portuguese

ambitions for the other summits.



Suggested areas of focus



8. (C) Kosovo: The Portuguese believe the current Troika-led


negotiations are a necessary last effort but are not

optimistic about the outcome. They believe Kosovar

independence is inevitable, but worry about both the Kosovars

moving too quickly and the perceived need to have Russian

agreement on any solution. The Portuguese are working to

find a legal mechanism that permits individual member states

to recognize an independent Kosovo absent a UNSCR, and that

provides the basis for deployment of an EU rule of law

mission. They need to hear from you that leaving Kosovo in

limbo is not an option, that giving Russia veto power over

foreign policy challenges in the heart of Europe sets a

troubling precedent, and that the world needs resolution on

this troubling issue this year.


9. (C) Russia: Prime Minister Socrates visited Moscow

recently and was criticized in many quarters for his failure

to address Russia’s aggressive behavior against EU allies

Poland and Estonia, human rights issues, or Moscow’s penchant

for rhetoric and gamesmanship on energy and security.

Portugal currently does not depend on Russia for any energy

needs, although that dynamic may be changing, given recent

collaborative efforts between the national oil company and

Gazprom, and Gazprom’s collaboration with Algeria’s

Sonatrach, which provides a majority of Portugal’s natural

gas needs. Socrates’s advisors suggested to us following the

trip that we needed to tone down our own rhetoric in order to

elicit more constructive engagement from Moscow. One senior

advisor even suggested that our plan to place the missile

defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic — the two

more problematic EU member states — had not helped matters

when we wanted the EU to come to our defense.


10. (C) Middle East: The Portuguese believe they have little

historical baggage in the region and thus can advance

progress on key issues. They have stressed many times and at

the highest levels that the Road Map is the way forward, but

that it needs to be reinvigorated. Foreign Minister Amado

has traveled extensively to the Middle East and was one of

the first to call for a special session of EU Foreign

Ministers at the onset of last summer’s hostilities in

Lebanon. In addition, Portugal has contributed an Army

engineering company to UNIFIL. Portugal shares our deep

concerns about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and has been

very supportive of efforts to increase pressure on Tehran.


11. (C) Afghanistan: Portuguese Special Forces and other

troops serve without caveat and are engaged in heavy fighting

in the volatile south. In addition, in response to an appeal

from the United States, Portugal recently agreed to assume

leadership of one Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team

(OMLT). The Portuguese stress that they are with us in

Afghanistan for the duration of NATO operations so

congratulations for their current contributions are in order

as well as encouragement to continue. Portugal has

contributed $2 million in assistance; however, they are

financially over-stretched and have not given more because of

budgetary constraints.


12. (C) Iraq: Portugal had an infantry company in Iraq for

two years and also contributed trainers for the police

training mission. Portugal recently downsized its diplomatic

presence in Baghdad because of cost (its operations were four

times as expensive as any other embassy), but let us know far

in advance and wanted to coordinate what they said publicly

as they were sensitive to the political ramifications.


13. (C) Africa: Portugal has a special relationship with

Africa, particularly with its former colonies. It intends to

host an EU-Africa Summit, although it has tried to deflect

diplomatic conflict over the potential attendance of

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe who is subject to an EU

travel ban. The UK, the Netherlands, and others may not

attend at the head of government level should Mugabe

participate. Although the Portuguese have led the

development of an action plan between the EU and African

Union, the negative ramifications of Mugabe’s presence in

Lisbon could overshadow any accomplishments.


14. (SBU) Major Economies Meeting: Socrates was pleased that

Portugal, in its capacity as EU President, was invited to

represent the European Union at the September 27-28 Major

Economies Meeting on Climate Change and Energy Security in

Washington. He is strong proponent of environmental issues,

having served as Environment Minister from 1999-2002. The

current Environment State Secretary Humberto Rosa is

scheduled to lead the delegation.


Particular Bilateral Points




15. (SBU)   The Portuguese government has, at the highest

levels, stressed its interest in collaborating with the

United States to strengthen security and stability in Africa,

an effort which has begun in earnest. We are conducting

joint demining training in Guinea-Bissau and are looking at

developing an HIV prevention program for African armed

forces. We are also exploring opportunities to work together

in the Special Operations arena in Africa. We hope to include

the Portuguese in peacekeeping training in Mozambique and

Angola under the African Contingency Operations training and

Assistance (ACOTA) program and a joint State-Defense team

from Washington recently visited Lisbon to discuss further

opportunities. In addition, our Department of Commerce has

been working with Portuguese counterparts on a program to

computerize Angola’s judicial records.


16. (S/NF) Socrates agreed to allow the repatriation of

enemy combatants out of Guatanamo through Lajes Air Base on a

case-by-case basis. This was a difficult decision, given the

sustained criticism by Portuguese media and leftist elements

of his own party over the government’s handling of the CIA

rendition flights controversy. Socrates’s agreement has

never been made public. The Attorney General’s Office was

forced to review a dossier of news clippings and

unsubstantiated allegations regarding CIA rendition

operations through Portugal provided by a member of the

European Parliament. The AG’s report should be released in

the near future. Although we cannot predict its conclusions,

government insiders and legal scholars have told us there was

no useful or prosecutable information in the dossier.


Prime Minister Socrates



17. (C) Socrates is a telegenic and charismatic leader, who

worked hard to improve his English in advance of the EU

presidency. He relies on advice from a small circle of

advisors. He is a very moderate Socialist who has been

successful at co-opting or marginalizing the leftists in his

party, from whom he has taken some heat for his pro-U.S.

policies. He also aggressively pursued his domestic agenda

before assuming the EU presidency, achieving difficult labor

and social security reforms and reducing Portugal’s budget

deficit to near EU-mandated levels.





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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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