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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - April 30, 2008

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBW RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0350 1231313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021313Z MAY 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8870
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000350

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - APRIL 30, 2008

1. (U) HDZ LEADERSHIP REMAINS VIRTUALLY UNCHANGED:
The April 26 General Convention of the ruling Croatian
Democratic Union (HDZ) confirmed the hold of Prime Minister
Ivo Sanader over his party. Sanader, Deputy Prime Minister
Jadranka Kosor, and the leadership slate of ten candidates
all ran unopposed for the positions of party president,
deputy president, and executive board, respectively. The
only competition was among the 39 candidates for the 25
Central Committee positions chosen by the Convention. Among
all positions current and former ministers predominated, with
little sign of new blood or fresh faces for the party. The
predictability the convention led Croatia's leading political
weekly "Globus" to describe it as "a great triumph of the
personality cult," showing that "delegates can vote but can't
choose." In his address, the new-old party president, Ivo
Sanader -- now due to lead the HDZ for the next four years --
cited the invitation to Croatia to join NATO and the ongoing
EU accession talks as foreign policy successes. Blaming
global economic conditions, he also said he expected annual
economic growth to be 4 percent; significantly lower than the
7 percent announced during the election campaign last year.
(ZTomic)

2. (SBU) PARLIAMENT CREATES NEW COMMITTEE FOR DEFENSE POLICY,
WITH OPPOSITION CHAIR:
In its last session, the Croatian parliament (or Sabor)
adjusted its committee structures, reportedly in an attempt
to make them match up better with the structure of the
government. Among the most important changes was to adopt an
initiative from opposition MP, and former Presidential Chief
of Staff, Boris Sprem to establish a separate committee for
defense affairs. Defense issues had previously been covered
as part of the Sabor Committee on Internal Affairs and
National Security. Proponents of the change argue that the
split will allow both the Defense Committee and the National
Security Committee to do a better job overseeing,
respectively, the Ministry of Defense and the country's law
enforcement/intelligence agencies. Even Ranko Ostojic, chair
of the National Security Committee that is losing some
powers, supports the change, even more so since both he and
new Defense committee chair Sprem are members of the
opposition Social Democratic Party. Since Sprem's previous
boss, President Stipe Mesic, has been among the most vocal
critics of alleged corruption in defense procurements,
expectations are that one focus of the new committee's work
will be to look at those issues. (RHoltzapple)

3. (U) STUDENT PROTESTS FORCE POSTPONEMENT OF NATIONAL EXAMS:
Thousands of Croatian high school students marched in cities
around the country on April 28 to protest the planned
administration of Croatia's first national graduation exams.
Students, and some teachers, complained that the test,
intended to survey a student's knowledge base from all four
years of high school, had been poorly developed with no
guidance for teachers on how to prepare their students, and
without proper coordination with domestic universities. The
protesters, who organized themselves primarily using internet
and SMS messages, successfully demanded a meeting with
Education Minister Primorac, after which the minister
postponed implementation of the test for one year to give
more time to address the issues raised. Score one for people
power. (RHoltzapple)
Bradtke

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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