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Cablegate: Gordan Jandrokovic, Croatia's New Foreign Minister

VZCZCXRO7792
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0042 0221258
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221258Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8491
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000042

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/SCE, INR/B, EUR/PPD
OSD FOR WINTERNITZ, NSC FOR BRAUN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR HR POLITICAL PARTIES
SUBJECT: GORDAN JANDROKOVIC, CROATIA'S NEW FOREIGN MINISTER

REF: A. ZAGREB 24

B. ZAGREB 18

1. (U) In a new Croatian government that consists largely of
too familiar faces (reftels), perhaps the most important new
face, certainly for U.S. engagement with Croatia, belongs to
new Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic. From 2004 to the
present, Jandrokovic was chair of the Croatian parliament
(Sabor) Foreign Affairs Committee, and as a member of
Croatia's National Committee on NATO Membership. Prior to
that he had served as chair of the Sabor Committee on
Economy, Development and Reconstruction from his initial
election to the Sabor in late 2003. During his Sabor term,
he has been a frequent and good Embassy contact, and
participated in a May 2004 International Visitor Program for
newly-elected Sabor members.

2. (U) Born in 1967, Jandrokovic started his professional
career in 1989 in construction business, while still studying
civil engineering (1986-1991). At the same time he pursued a
degree in political science (1989-1993), whereupon he joined
the Croatian Foreign Service. His area of expertise was the
neighboring countries, central and eastern Europe. He has
been a member of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)
party since 1992. He is currently a member of its national
Presidency, as well as Chair of the party's chapter in
Bjelovar-Bilogora County. From 1997 to 2000 he ran the
office of then deputy foreign minister (now HDZ Prime
Minister) Ivo Sanader. During the Racan government
(2000-2003), when the HDZ was out of power at the national
level, Jandrokovic left the Foreign Service to work as a
manager in the private sector, in Zagreb and his native
Bjelovar. Elected to the Sabor in 2003 as an HDZ
representative, Jandrokovic ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of
Bjelovar in 2005 against his local rival Djurdja Adlesic of
the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), who has now become
his coalition partner and one of four deputy prime ministers
in the same cabinet.

3. (U) Jandrokovic speaks good English, and his official bio
says he has a passive knowledge of Italian. He is married
and father of three children.

4. (SBU) During the 2007 parliamentary elections, Jandrokovic
was given a prominent role in the election campaign - the
HDZ's generational answer to the emergence of his former
diplomatic colleague and similarly youthful Zoran Milanovic
as president of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP).
He was tasked by Sanader to make some of the more personal
attacks against Milanovic, and put in a solid performance as
an effective campaigner, leading some media commentators to
characterize him in ways ranging from a Sanader "yes" man to
the "rough young lion" of the HDZ. In Post's experience he
is a close associate of Sanader, young, well-spoken, and
ambitious yet affable. He has faithfully toed the party line
as chair of parliament's foreign policy committee, and has
been solid on issues like NATO, the EU, Kosovo and regional
stability, but was not overly activist or one to stray far
from his talking points. We expect him to maintain this
profile as FM. In that sense, he does not represent a
dramatic change from out-going FM Grabar-Kitarovic -- a
foreign ministry protege of Sanader tasked to implement
government priorities as FM.

5. (SBU) Like Grabar-Kitarovic, some officials such as
President Mesic's diplomatic advisor Budimir Loncar, fear
that Jandrokovic's relative youth and inexperience will limit
his effectiveness both within the government and
internationally. Our assessment is that his experience in
domestic elective and party politics (something his
predecessor did not have) may give him somewhat sharper
elbows than she had for enforcing his will both within his
ministry and in the cabinet. At the same time, he should
still be able to present a similarly polished and dynamic,
although just as youthful and bit more brash, image of
Croatia to the outside world.

BRADTKE

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