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Cablegate: Croatia Recognizes Croatia, Issues Joint Statement With

VZCZCXRO9249
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0265 0791346
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191346Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8768
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000265

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR KO
SUBJECT: CROATIA RECOGNIZES CROATIA, ISSUES JOINT STATEMENT WITH
HUNGARY AND BULGARIA

REF: ZAGREB 262

1. As forecast in reftel, the Government of Croatia, in its
afternoon press briefing, announced that it has taken the decision
today, March 19, to recognize Kosovo. Government spokesman Zlatko
Mehun said that the formal text of the decision to recognize was
being prepared and would be released shortly. In a statement for
the press, PM Ivo Sanader said that he did not expect negative
consequences for Croatia's relationship with Serbia as a result of
the recognition decision, adding that there was no alternative to
good neighborly relations between the two countries.

2. Just prior to the decision on recognition, the GOC released, in
coordination with the governments of Bulgaria and Hungary, a joint
declaration from all three states explaining their intention to
recognize Kosovo, but stressing their interest in maintaining good
relations with Serbia. Full text of the joint statement in English
is in para 4.

3. Local media also reported that Slobodan Uzelac, Croatia's Deputy
Prime Minister representing the Croatian Serb party that is one of
Sanader's partners in the ruling coalition, had offered his
resignation, saying that Croatia should have waited for longer
before deciding to recognize Kosovo. PM Sanader responded that
while "I understand his action, I do not accept his resignation."

4. BEGIN JOINT STATEMENT TEXT:

The Governments of Bulgaria and Hungary as EU Member States, the
Government of Croatia as an EU candidate country negotiating on
accession, all three countries neighbouring Serbia, have agreed to
issue the following statement with regard to their forthcoming
national decisions on the recognition of Kosovo:
The declaration of independence of Kosovo came after the failure of
all the efforts of the international community to find a negotiated
solution between Belgrade and Pristina on the status of Kosovo. In
these circumstances the change of the unsustainable status quo was
unavoidable. Kosovo is a sui generis case arising from the unique
circumstances of the disintegration of former Yugoslavia as well as
the continued period of international administration.
The three countries attach paramount importance to a maximum degree
of stability in South-Eastern Europe and a clear European
perspective for all countries in the region.
The Kosovo institutions have committed themselves, inter alia by
adopting relevant legislation, to fully implement the principles and
the arrangements envisaged by the UNSG Special Envoy's Comprehensive
Proposal (Ahtisaari Plan) for the Kosovo Status Settlement. They
have also declared their readiness to welcome an international
presence in Kosovo in accordance with UNSCR 1244.
The decision on the recognition of Kosovo is based on thorough
consideration and on the conclusions adopted by the General Affairs
and External Relations Council of the European Union on 12 February
2007 and 18 February 2008, as well as by the European Council on 14
December 2007.
The three countries will continue to support the active commitment
of the EU and NATO to the stability and democracy-building in
Kosovo. Kosovo institutions should provide guarantees for a
multi-ethnic state, based on the principles of democracy, rule of
law, ensuring broad rights for Serb and other communities, including
their effective participation in all institutions. This process is
to be supervised by the international community.
The three countries express their interest in developing ties with a
Serbia that maintains good relations with its neighbours, enjoys
economic growth and keeps its European orientation.
The three countries believe that European integration is the only
solid and sustainable platform for economic development, social
progress and prosperity for all countries of the region, including
Serbia.
The three countries support the further strengthening of ties
between Serbia and the Union. Earlier they stood by securing visa
facilitation for and later encouraged the opening of talks on visa
liberalization with Serbia that could lead to further travel
facilitations for its citizens.
In the spirit of the Thessaloniki Agenda, which confirmed that the
future of the countries of the region lies in the European Union,
they favour the earliest possible signing of the Stabilization and
Association Agreement between Serbia and the European Union so that
Serbia could become in time a candidate country and later a
full-fledged member of the European Union, benefiting from the
available European assistance throughout the whole process.
The three countries look forward to the continued development of
their good-neighbourly relations with Serbia and to the
strengthening of their traditional ties with its people.
To be issued in Bulgarian, Hungarian and Croatian. Original
language: English
END TEXT OF JOINT STATEMENT

BRADTKE

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