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Cablegate: Ambassador Discusses Nato, Property Restitution,

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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0173 0461448
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151448Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7308
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000173

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

FOR EUR, EUR/SCE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ETRD CASC HR AF NATO KIDE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES NATO, PROPERTY RESTITUTION,
ISAF, AND COMMERCIAL ISSUES WITH CROATIAN PRESIDENT

(U) Sensitive but unclassified; please handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) Ambassador met July 13 with Croatian President
Stjepan Mesic to discuss Afghanistan, NATO, property
restitution, and commercial issues. Their discussion of
Kosovo and the Italy-Croatia dispute on Italian victims of
Partisan atrocities during WWII are covered septel.

NATO Preparations

2. (SBU) The Ambassador noted positively increased
high-level GOC participation in the effort to prepare the
country for NATO membership. In particular, constituting a
State Committee consisting of the president, the prime
minister, and the speaker of parliament would help ensure
that defense reform efforts did not flag and the public
education campaign about NATO would make progress. The
Ambassador promised to work closely with Croatia's NATO
Ambassador Davor Bozinovic to support the GOC's efforts.

3. (SBU) Mesic noted that NATO membership will bring Croatia
numerous military, security, and economic benefits. The
State Committee's efforts to make the public more aware of
these benefits was a vital task. For too long the media in
Croatia have had a critical attitude about NATO that has
engendered public skepticism. The GOC has to take part of
the blame for this since it has not worked aggressively in
the past to counter these arguments; with the State Committee
this time is past, the various institutions of the GOC are
united and progress is being made.

4. (SBU) Mesic noted that in his view a referendum on NATO
membership would not be necessary under the constitution
since joining the alliance would not cede Croatian
sovereignty.

Croatian contributions to ISAF

5. (SBU) The Ambassador noted USG appreciation for the GOC's
plan to increase the contribution of Croatian troops in ISAF
from the current level of 150, to 200 in 2007 and 300 in
2008. Croatian participation in this multilateral effort is
a vital contribution to the future of Afghanistan and its
ability to transition to a modern, democratic state free from
the Taliban's reign of terror.

Property Restitution

6. (SBU) The Ambassador raised the issue of property
confiscated by the Communist Yugoslav government; he noted
that there were a number of American citizens who were
currently ineligible to apply for restitution under Croatian
law, although Croatian citizens can do so. He told Mesic
that he would be meeting again with the Justice Minister
shortly to address this issue, and he hoped the president
would be able to support some kind of resolution for these
claimants, must of whom were now very old. He left with the
president a short paper with illustrative examples of
Americans who would benefit from a claims procedure.

Armored Personnel Carriers

7. (SBU) The Ambassador noted that the US company General
Dynamics was bidding on a contract to supply the Croatian
armed forces with 126 armored personnel carriers; working
with GD would not only help the army fill a critical gap in
its capabilities, but would also bring benefits to the
Croatian company that would be GD's partner. Mesic noted the
importance of offset arrangements in GOC consideration of APC
bidders and said that a decision had already been reached in
principle to split the APC contract between GD and its
Finnish competitor Patria.
BRADTKE

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