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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - January 23, 2008

VZCZCXRO9783
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0048 0240903
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240903Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8498
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000048

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR EUR/SCE, EUR/PPD, EUR/RPM AND EUR/ERA
OSD FOR WINTERNITZ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - JANUARY 23, 2008


1. (U) EMBASSY PROVIDES HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO ROMA
REFUGEES:
On January 18, the DCM visited the village of Petrinjci near
Sisak to deliver a donation from the U.S. Ambassador's
Refugee Fund to seven Roma families. The donation, worth
50,000 Kuna ($10,000), provides legal assistance plus small
tools and equipment to help create self-sufficiency and
sustainability for this small community. Prior to the war,
this vulnerable group of approximately 33 people lived in the
Capraske poljane settlement in houses built without permits,
electricity, water or sewage service. Following the war, the
families were housed in a government operated collective
center outside Sisak. Upon closing of the collective center
in 2007, the governement of Croatia provided state-owned
housing to many of the refugee families but most were left
without a means of earning a living. The Sisak based NGO,
Civil Rights Project, with its experience in assisting
refugee populations, is the U.S. Government's main partner in
the implementation of the grant. (DFisk)

2. (U) SALW DESTRUCTION PROGRAM REVIVED:
On January 21, the MoD restarted its small arms/light weapons
(SALW) destruction program,
which had been in hiatus for the past year. This phase,
conducted without international
assistance, will destroy 7,500 unserviceable or obsolete,
non-NATO standard weapons over the
next two weeks. Long-term plans call for removing up to
170,000 SALW from the Croatian
military's inventory. Post also continues to engage with the
MoD on development of plans to
destroy hundreds of excess shoulder-fired anti-aircraft
missiles (MANPADS). (TSelinger)

3. (U) NEW TOURISM MINISTER CITES IVP EXPERIENCE: "OUR
HOTELS ARE BETTER THAN AMERICA'S":
On January 17, Croatian State Secretary of Tourism resigned
his office to move to the private
sector. Commenting to the press, he praised the decision to
separate tourism into its own
ministry but criticized other elements of the government's
approach, such as the focus on the
agricultural sector's supplying food to coastal hotels.
Related to this criticism is the fact
that the new minister of tourism, Damir Bajs, comes from a
rural area of Croatia and from
outside the industry. In an interview that same day, Bajs
told a journalist he had been to the
US just once, on a leadership program of the US government
(International Visitors Program). He
said they stayed at "reasonably standardized, correct
hotels," but once had to wait an hour to
check in. He said that would never happen at a hotel in
Croatia, adding, "I think our hotels are
better." Asked to name the five best Croatian hotels he had
visited, however, he could not
remember any names. (SLitke)
BRADTKE

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