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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - February 13, 2008

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SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - FEBRUARY 13, 2008

1. (U) ODC COORDINATES CROATIA'S 11TH ROTATION TO
AFGHANISTAN: On February 12, the 11th contingent of Croatian
soldiers departed for Afghanistan. These soldiers will
replace Croatian soldiers returning home after a 6 month
rotation in Afghanistan. The Office of Defense Cooperation
coordinates these regular rotations to the ISAF mission.
Currently, Croatia has 207 men deployed in ISAF and will
increase the contingent to 300 this year in accordance with a
parliamentary decision. Speaking about this most recent
contingent, Croatian Defense Minister Branko Vukelic said
that such missions promote Croatia and its readiness to join
NATO. (PMcCabe)

2. (U) SUPPORT FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP OVER 50 PERCENT IN ALL
POLLS: Recent polling results among all major pollsters in
Croatia show more than half of Croatians support Croatia's
NATO membership. The leading polling agency "Puls," whose
work until recently had shown support in the upper 40s, this
week found 51.5 percent of respondents in favor of Croatia
accepting a NATO invitation. Thirty-two percent opposed
Croatia's entry into NATO, while 16.5 percent said they
didn't know. The "Promocija Plus" polling agency posted
similar results in a survey conducted between January 31 and
February 1, with 51.1 percent saying they favored Croatia's
NATO membership, 39 percent opposed, and 9.9 percent
undecided. In polling on January 28 and 29 by the "Vectura"
agency, 54.1 percent of respondents said they would vote for
NATO membership while 30.3 percent said they would vote
against and 15.6 percent were undecided. A
government-sponsored poll conducted by "GfK" agency scheduled
released on February 8 shows 52 percent of Croatians in favor
of NATO membership with 27 percent against and 21 percent
undecided. (TSelinger)

3. (U) NEW NATIONAL BANK CIRCULAR ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND
TERRORIST FINANCING: The Croatian National Bank issued a
circular on February 11 to banks and other financial
institutions laying out new measures in the fight against
money laundering and terrorist financing. The circular sets
new guidelines for customer identification, risk assessment
and reporting of suspicious transactions, among others. This
step was taken in anticipation of upcoming legislative action
to align Croatia's domestic law with the EU acquis, in this
case, the Third Money Laundering Directive of 2005.
(NBerliner)

4. (U) EMBASSY ZAGREB HOSTS FIRST AMERICAN CITIZEN'S
INFORMATION NIGHT: On February 7, the Consular Section held
the first American Citizen's Information Night at the
Embassy, attended by more than 200 American citizens resident
in Croatia. The AmCits had the opportunity to get
information on topics such as overseas voting assistance,
immigration to the U.S., Social Security issues, commercial
and investment opportunities, information about educational
opportunities and English-speaking community groups in
Croatia, as well as the latest information on requirements
for Croatian visa and residence permits. Participants
included USG officials from the Citizenship and Immigration
Service and the Department of Homeland Security; Croatian
officials from the Foreign Ministry's Visa and Aliens
Department and the Interior Ministry's Aliens Department; and
representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce, American
International School of Zagreb, International Women's Club
and Croatian-American Society. Embassy employees
representing a number of offices were also available to
answer questions about their programs and activities.
Consular staff provided routine consular services, such as
voting assistance, notarial services and passport renewals.
More than 20 Foreign Service Officers and Locally Engaged
Staff from U.S. Embassies from around Southeast Europe, in
town for the Consular Leadership Day, also attended the
event. (AJohnson)

5. (U) FOURTH ANNUAL REGIONAL CONSULAR LEADERSHIP DAY:
Embassy Zagreb's hosted the Fourth Annual Regional Consular
Leadership Day at the U.S. Embassy on February 8, focusing on
three Consular Leadership Tenets: "Build Great Teams,
Communicate, and Learn Constantly." Forty-six consular
officers and locally employed staff members from Zagreb,
Sarajevo, Skopje, Belgrade, Pristina and Podgorica
participated in the day-long event, which included
presentations from Maria Belvedere, Officer in Charge,
Regional DHS Office of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services,
and Martina Delija, Regional Federal Benefits Assistant. In
addition, two staff members from Sarajevo gave an overview of
their response to the 2007 bus accident involving a group of
American tourists. Attendees also participated in round
table discussions on best practices in their respective units

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(NIV, IV, ACS and Fraud Prevention). (MNice)

6. (U) U.S. EMBASSY OFFICERS LEARN OF ECONOMIC SUCCESS
STORIES NEW AND OLD: As part of Embassy Zagreb's Entry Level
Officer Development Program, six ELOs visited Applied
Ceramics in Sisak and Gavrilovic in Petrinja, two towns about
fifty miles outside Zagreb. At Applied Ceramics they met
with the company's president, Croatian-American Matt Sertic,
to learn about his experience establishing a branch of the
company in Croatia last year. Sertic said he encourages
other companies from Silicon Valley to consider investing in
Croatia, but he added that cumbersome administrative and
bureaucratic processes remain an obstacle, particularly for
those without a Croatian background. At Gavrilovic, the
officers learned about the changes the company has undergone
as one of the oldest meat-processing companies in Europe,
including socialization during the Yugoslav era, confiscation
by Serbs during the Homeland War, and reestablishing the
company after the war, partially with USG financial support
for demining to promote economic development. Currently the
company is working to expand its product sales on the U.S.
market. (SLitke)
WALKER

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