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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - April 10, 2008

VZCZCXRO9462
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0296 1020517
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 110517Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8805
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000296

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV OVIP HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - APRIL 10, 2008

1. (U) POTUS VISIT: "NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE YOUR FREEDOM
AWAY" GARNERS STRONGEST RESPONSE:
News articles and public reaction pieces in the media after
the April 4-5 visit of President Bush to Zagreb were
generally positive, as poll numbers seem to bear out (see
next item). Most people interviewed and all dailies reported
on the event itself positively, featuring most prominently
President Bush's promise to protect Croatia's security as a
NATO member. The President's address to the Croatian public
in St. Mark's Square was well received, and people
interviewed afterwards were visibly delighted to have seen
the President. Columnists and commentary on the visit were
more mixed. While many columnists treated Croatia's NATO
accession as an "obvious" and "correct" choice, negative
commentary focused on the "servile" behavior of the Croatian
government towards America. NATO-skeptics' commentary also
confirmed that much of their objection to Croatia's NATO
accession is tied to negative views of the Administration.
The two protests held during the visit were subdued, sparsely
attended, and did not interfere with any aspect of the
President's visit. (DMatijas)

2. (U) POLL CONFIRMS POSITIVE REACTION TO PRESIDENT'S VISIT
AND GROWING SUPPORT FOR NATO:
In a poll conducted April 4-6 by the most reputable local
firm, PULS, 78% of those polled said they thought President
Bush's visit to Croatia was a positive thing, and only 9%
felt it was a negative thing. (NOTE: The timing of the poll,
stretching from the morning before the President's arrival to
the day after his departure, makes it hard to interpret
whether respondents were reacting to the mere fact of the
visit, or to the President's specific comments and actions
during his stay. Given how well the President's visit went,
we expect the final result is even better than this poll's
numbers. END NOTE.) In the same poll, 70% said Croatia's
invitation to join NATO was a good thing, with only 14%
describing it negatively. Support for actually accepting the
invitation was somewhat lower, at 62%, but this number also
indicates a continuing upward trend in public support for
Croatia joining the Alliance. Post's overall assessment is
that the President's visit, even if it has not persuaded
committed NATO opponents to change sides, has moved some
undecideds into the pro-NATO column and, together with the
invitation from Bucharest, has taken momentum out of the
campaign by local NGOs to force a public referendum on the
issue. (RHoltzappple)

3. (U) RECORD FDI IN CROATIA IN 2007:
The Croatian National Bank (CNB) announced April 8 that
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Croatia reached a record
3.6 billion euros in 2007, an increase of 32% over 2006.
Actual business investment accounted for 2.1 billion euros of
total FDI, with foreign credit and bank recapitalization
making up the balance and accounting for a substantial part
of the growth. CNB analysts expect lower growth this year as
a result of the slowing of credit growth in the banking
sector and the cooling off of the overall economy. (NBerliner)


Bradtke

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