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Cablegate: Iraqi Mp Eyes Croatia As Post-Conflict Model

VZCZCXYZ0014
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVB #0449 1291501
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091501Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7651
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0020

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000449

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KWMN HR IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQI MP EYES CROATIA AS POST-CONFLICT MODEL

REF: Zagreb 422

1. SUMMARY AND COMMENT: An Iraqi Member of Parliament and close
relative of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Ms. Ala Talabani,
visited Croatia April 20-27 in search of a successful post-conflict
model to further promote human rights, strengthen the role of NGOs,
and develop women's rights in Iraq. Accompanied by Areez Mahdi, an
Erbil-based Woman's Program Coordinator for the National Democratic
Institute, the visit was part of Croatia's efforts to provide
development assistance to Iraq.

2. The MFA organized the visit to assist in the strengthening of
democracy, rule of law, and the promotion of human rights and
freedoms in Iraq. Croatia is also treating Iraqi children in a
local Zagreb hospital, actively participating in training programs
for Iraqi police officers in Jordan, and remains open to exploring
other ways to contribute to Iraq's reconstruction (Reftel). The GOC
is also, with Embassy Zagreb support, facilitating the participation
of a delegation of Iraqi lawyers at the International Bar
Association Leaders Conference May 15-19 in Zagreb. END COMMENT
AND SUMMARY

LESSONS LEARNED FROM VUKOVAR
----------------------------

3. At the invitation of the GOC participants traveled to Vinkovci
and the former UN Protected Enclave of Vukovar to see first hand the
challenges and successes of these war ravaged towns. While in
Vukovar participants learned about Croatia's experience in
reconstruction and postwar reintegration. Participants not only had
the opportunity to witness first hand the devastation imposed upon
the city, but also the efforts being undertaken by Mayor Zdenka
Buljan to promote ethnic reconciliation in a community that is still
feeling the scars of recent war.

4. Vukovar, as a divided city of Serbs and Croats, left quite an
impression on participants. Ms. Talabani told Pol Off she was very
impressed by the mayor of Vukovar. She also expressed her
encouragement by what she has seen in Croatia in terms of promoting
democratization and ethnic reconciliation.

CROATIA'S WOMEN POLITICIANS AS A MODEL FOR IRAQ
--------------------------------------------- --

5. During the Zagreb portion of the visit, participants met with
high level women politicians, ranging from Foreign Affairs Minister
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to United Nations Chair of the Committee to
Eliminate Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Ambassador Dubravka
Simonovic. In addition to meeting Croatian Parliament Deputy Speaker
Djurdja Adlesic, where Talabani discussed the position of women in
the two countries politics, Talabani also met with the Croatian
People's Party President, Vesna Pusic and Minister of War Veterans,
Family Affairs and Inter-generational Solidarity, Jadranka Kosor.

6. The Iraqi Delegation had a full schedule, meeting with
representatives of the Government Office for Human Rights,
Ombudsperson for Gender Equality, Ombudsperson for the Rights of
Children, and numerous NGOs and civil society organizations. After
receiving copies of Croatia's Law on Gender Equality, the delegation
was better able to see how Croatia works to include women's issues
in the political process.

LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH TO FOSTER NGO INDEPENDENCE
--------------------------------------------- --

7. In order to further develop her legislative agenda in the Iraqi
Council of Representatives, Talabani hopes to learn how government
can successfully interact with NGOs. The GOC, which generally has a
successful and positive relationship with NGOs, might very well
provide a useful model for Baghdad in reducing what Talabani
characterized as a hostile relationship filled with suspicion and
mistrust. In addition to extracting lessons that could be used to
foster NGO independence and build trust, Talabani was also in
Croatia looking for ideas to help her promote a political parties
law.

BRADTKE

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