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WikiLeaks: 2008-06-04: 08BAGHDAD1694: RRT Erbil: French FM Kouchner Opens Diplomatic Office, Highlights Kurdish Achievements

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD1694: June 04, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 02:18 PM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD1694, RRT ERBIL: FRENCH FM KOUCHNER OPENS DIPLOMATIC

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD1694 2008-06-04 11:30 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO8246
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIHL RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ
RUEHROV
DE RUEHGB #1694/01 1561130
ZNR UUUUU ZZH ZDK
P 041130Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7657
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0178
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE PRIORITY 0002
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001694 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR FR IZ
SUBJECT: RRT ERBIL:  FRENCH FM KOUCHNER OPENS DIPLOMATIC 
OFFICE, HIGHLIGHTS KURDISH ACHIEVEMENTS 
 
REF: BAGHDAD 1676 
 
BAGHDAD 00001694  001.3 OF 002 
 
 
1. (U) This is an Erbil Regional Reconstruction Team Message. 
 
2.  (SBU)  Summary:  During a well-choreographed June 1 visit 
to Erbil, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner held talks 
with Kurdistan Regional government (KRG) Prime Minister 
Nechirvan Barzani and President Massoud Barzani, led the 
flag-raising ceremony to inaugurate the French Diplomatic 
Office, and held a press conference with President Barzani. 
Kouchner highlighted his long and enduring friendship with 
the Kurds, praised them as "pioneers" several times, and 
encouraged them to embrace their role as models for the rest 
of Iraq.  He said the French office in Erbil would soon be 
upgraded to a consulate, and announced the establishment of a 
French cultural center.  Kouchner noted he looked forward to 
the UN announcement on Article 140, and said resolving the 
Kirkuk question is key to Iraq's democratic development.  End 
Summary. 
 
3.  (SBU) Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner presided over the 
opening of France's new diplomatic office in Erbil.  Freshly 
painted and gleaming in the sun, the office is located in the 
center of Erbil, with an excellent view of the Erbil Citadel. 
 The Director is Frederic Tissot, a friend of Kouchner's, and 
also a founding member of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). 
The French will open a new cultural center next door.  Dr. 
Tissot told RRTOff June 3 that he is developing plans for an 
assistance program in the Kurdistan Region, with activities 
focused at the new cultural center.  Tissot added that the 
existing Arthur Rimbaud Cultural Center, located at the 
Citadel, receives approximately 20,000 Euro per year from the 
French government. 
 
4.  (U) In his speech to foreign diplomatic representatives 
and KRG officials, Kouchner repeated three times that the 
office would become a consulate, and very soon.  He 
emphasized his close ties with the Barzani family, and his 
time spent with Mustapha Barzani, whom he first met in 1974. 
He lauded the Kurds as "pioneers" who have demonstrated what 
the rest of Iraq can become as the security situation 
improves.  Kurds must serve as an example, he said, by 
further building up their democratic institutions, such as 
their parliament, and through their support for human rights. 
 He also urged Kurds to hold their elected leaders 
accountable and to insist on the development of a truly 
independent press in the region.  KRG Prime Minister 
Nechirvan Barzani praised Kouchner for his strong support for 
the Kurds, noting that in 1991 MSF (founded by Kouchner) was 
one of the Kurds' few true friends, helping to save many 
lives. 
 
Kouchner and President Barzani press conference 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
5.  (U) Although the press conference yielded mostly softball 
questions, Kouchner noted that he had waited ten years for 
this moment, and expressed happiness over the positive change 
in French foreign policy toward Iraq.  He again brought up 
his personal relationship with Barzani's, but also 
highlighted the importance of the two Kurdish leaders, 
previously adversaries, serving as Presidents in Iraq.  In 
response to a question on Article 140, Kouchner said he 
believes the United Nations proposal will be interesting, and 
said France will support the UN recommendations if they 
provide a solution, as resolving Kirkuk remains key to Iraq's 
democratic development.  He also said he supported the 
position provided by President Barzani. (Note:  In response 
to an earlier question on Kirkuk, Barzani responded that the 
Kurds are open to discussion on the subject, and that the 
UN's involvement can help resolve the problem.  End Note.) 
When asked if France follows U.S. and UK policy, Kouchner 
responded that he does not comment on other countries 
policies. 
 
French business delegation in tow 
--------------------------------- 
 
6.  (SBU) Kouchner was accompanied by a French business 
delegation, led by Jean-Marie Bellat, French Commercial 
Affairs Officer for Iraq, based in Amman, Jordan.  Mr. Bellat 
and representatives from French companies Gregoire Besson, 
Berthoud, Richel, Societe du Canal du Provence et 
d'Amenagement de la Region Provencale (SCP), and Manitou met 
June 3 with the RRT's Senior Economic Advisor to discuss the 
KRG investment climate.  According to Bellat, the business 
delegation accompanied Kouchner to conduct initial due 
 
BAGHDAD 00001694  002.6 OF 002 
 
 
diligence for investment opportunities in Iraq.  He also 
noted that France's initial involvement would be the 
forgiveness of defaulted debt obligations and support to 
private sector development. 
 
Foreign Representation in Erbil 
------------------------------- 
 
7.  (U) Thirteen official foreign representation offices are 
in Erbil, including the RRT and the United Nations.  There 
are two consulates:  Iran and Russia; three Embassy Offices: 
France, Germany, and UK; and five honorary consuls:  Austria, 
Czech Republic, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, and Spain. 
 
8.  (U) Embassy Baghdad note:  Kouchner's stop in Erbil 
capped off a two-day visit to Iraq that began May 31 in 
Nasiriyah, in the company of VP Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, and 
included an overnight stop in Baghdad, where he met with CG 
Petraeus and Ambassador Satterfield (Reftel), President 
Talabani, PM Maliki, CoR Speaker Mashadani, FM Zebari, and 
Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Delly, while also visiting the 
Al-Bitar hospital in Baghdad. 
 
9.  (U) Biographical Note:  Dr. Frederic Tissot, whose own 
long association with the Kurds included overseeing a GoF 
resettlement program in 1989, is confined to a wheelchair 
since a 2006 accident in Haiti. 
 
BUTENIS

 



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