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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - March 27, 2008

VZCZCXRO6288
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0284 0871411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271411Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8789
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000284

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - MARCH 27, 2008

REF: ZAGREB 265

1. (U) CROATIAN SERB PARTY TO REMAIN IN GOVERNMENT:
The Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) has decided to
remain a coalition partner in the Croatian Government despite
its disagreement with the government's decision on March 19
to recognize Kosovo. On March 26, the SDSS leadership met to
review the party's continued participation in the government.
The party noted that it still disagrees with the
Government's recognition of Kosovo, but decided to stay in
the government and keep the coalition agreement in force.
SDSS President Vojislav Stanimirovic was quoted in the press
that the problems of Croatian Serbs had to be a higher
priority for the party than the status of Kosovo. "Becoming
(the) opposition would create new problems for us and would
push us several years backward," added party vice president
Milorad Pupovac. SDSS representative Slobodan Uzelac, who
had offered his resignation immediately after the recognition
decision, will therefore remain a Deputy Prime Minister.
(ZTomic)

2. (U) WAR CRIME TRIALS MEET INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS BUT
COULD IMPROVE IN SOME AREAS:
A report by a group of respected local NGOs on the conduct of
War Crime Trials in Croatian during 2007 found that the vast
majority of monitored trials met basic international
standards for fair and unbiased trials. However, the report
did call for some improvements including: strengthening the
investigating centers of four County Courts (Zagreb, Osijek,
Rijeka and Split); intensifying investigation efforts;
increasing witness and victim support; and further
strengthening cooperation with neighboring states. In
response to the NGO report, Minister of Justice Ana Lovrin
cited improvements in judicial proceedings, and specifically
mentioned the utilization of video conference systems for
testimony. (NOTE: The digital video conference systems at
the four largest Croatian County courts adjudicating war
crimes (Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka and Split) as well as the
Vukovar County court, which has the largest number of
domestic war crime cases were all provided through USG
assistance.) Minister Lovrin said that further education on
the use of the systems will be organized through the Judicial
Academy. At the conference presenting the report, which
garnered significant national media attention, Croatia's
Chief State Prosecutor also reiterated his determination to
prosecuting every war crime committed in Croatia regardless
of the defendants' ethnicity. (VDjukic)

3. (SBU) WHITE HOUSE ADVANCE TEAM ARRIVES ZAGREB:
Members of the White House advance team began arriving in
Zagreb this week and have begun intense preparations for the
President's up-coming visit. The advance team held an
orientation meeting on March 27 with Embassy Zagreb staff
supporting the visit. Together, Embassy and White House
staff have begun visiting various sites to prepare for the
arrival and visits of the President and First Lady.
Meanwhile, President Bush's interview with the Croatian news
agency HINA was given good coverage. Two of the largest
circulation dailies ran the interview with headlines noting
that NATO was not seeking military bases in Croatia. (PMcCabe)
Bradtke

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