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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - May 21, 2008

VZCZCXRO9779
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBW RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0382/01 1421457
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211457Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8326
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000382

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - MAY 21, 2008

REF: ZAGREB 358

1. (U)USAID/CROATIA CELEBRATES 15 YEARS OF PARTNERSHIP:
More than 450 people from all over Croatia attended a closing
ceremony celebrating Croatia's graduation from SEED
assistance held in Zagreb on May 15. Many of the attendees
traveled from cities throughout Croatia where USAID has
worked, and included representatives from USAID's partners
both within government insitutions, such as the judiciary and
the National Competitiveness Council, as well as from civil
society, including both civic activists and a diverse range
of entrepreneurs. Speakers at the event, including
Ambassador Bradtke, USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe
and Eurasia Doug Menarchik, and GoC Vice Prime Minister
Jadrank Kosor, highlighted the transformation that Croatia
has experienced over the past 15 years and the role $320
million in USAID-administered programs have played in the
transformation. Ambassador Bradtke also emphasized that the
U.S.-Croatia partnership will continue, even as USAID
programs concludea Mission administered $320 million of that
assistance. Prior to the ceremony, Mr. Menarchik and Amb.
Bradtke visited the Microsoft Business Technology Center, a
public private partnership in Varazdin, where he met with
small business, commercial software developers, the head of
the center and Microsoft Croatia. Also, at a lunch hosted by
the American Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Menarchik delivered
remarks on public private partnerships and the need for
Corporate Social Responsibility. (RLatorraca)

2. (U) VISA WAIVER WORKING GROUP MOVES FORWARD:
The GoC-Embassy Zagreb bilateral Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Working Group held its second meeting on May 16. Assistant
Foreign Minister Ivica Tomic reiterated the GoC's commitment
from the highest levels to cooperate on this issue,
expressing hope that the supportive statements of President
Bush on the issue of waiver during his April visit to Zagreb
were a positive first step. Croatian representatives
presented their responses to an Embassy-prepared list of
areas that the GoC needed to address as it works toward
qualification for visa waiver. Embassy participants stressed
in particular that progress would be needed on the sharing of
lost and stolen passport (LASP) data and toward issuance of
an "e-passport" (i.e. biometric passport with an integrated
data chip), before Croatia could be considered for inclusion
as a potential "roadmap" country. The GoC indicated its
readiness to exchange diplomatic notes to allow sharing of
LASP data and took a draft text for consideration. Regarding
the e-passport, the GoC took note of the fact that the key
target is actual commencement of issuance of such passports,
not merely the adoption of the legislation or regulations
related to such documents. The GoC representatives
acknowledged they do not at present even have a formal target
date for issuing such passports, but that even the notional
current timeline of the latter half of 2009 would mean a long
period before Croatia could even potentially be eligible for
VWP. GoC officials said the government might re-examine its
timeline to see if acceleration were possible. (RElvikis)

3. (U) CROATIA CONTINUES TO EXPAND INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING
ACTIVITIES:
On May 15, the first two military officers that will be part
of Croatia's contribution to the UN peacekeeping operation in
the Golan Heights departed for the Middle East. In June,
they will be followed by the rest of the 95-strong Croatian
contingent that will be replacing a Slovak detachment in the
mission. On May 19, Croatia's National Defense Council
agreed to an additional peacekeeping deployment of 15
Croatian servicement to join the EU peacekeeping mission in
Chad in late September or early October, 2008. (RHoltzapple)

4. (U) RIJEKA AND TACOMA INITIATE "CITY TWINNING" ACTIVITIES:
From May 12 to 16, a delegation from the city of Tacoma,
Washington, visited the Croatian city of Rijeka to initiate a
"twinning" program in which the two major port cities will
share experiences on, inter alia, converting former
industrial waterfronts into public spaces, methods to promote
greater citizen participation in municipal government,
integrating university activities into and the planning of
showcase events and festivals. The visit was among one of
the very last project activities of USAID/Croatia, and should
help initiate a sustained relationship drawing on the
municipalities own resources. At the conclusion of their
visit, the visitors from Washington state invited the city
leadership from Rijeka to come for an official visit to
Tacoma this summer. (RHoltzapple)

5. (U) CROATIAN GOVERNMENT DONATES 200,000 EUROS TO CHINESE
EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS:

ZAGREB 00000382 002 OF 002


The Government of Croatia decided on May 15 to provide
approximately 1.5 million kuna (approx. $320,000) in
humanitarian aid for the victims of the devastating
earthquake in China. The aid will be sent to China via the
Croatian Red Cross, which has already begun to raise aid for
the victims according to the Hina news agency. Following the
GoC's similar donation earlier in the month (reftel) to
Burmese cyclone victims, Croatia is gradually establishing
itself as a regular, if small-scale, donor of international
assistance. (PMcCabe)
Bradtke

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