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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - May 29, 2008

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBW RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0404/01 1511218
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301218Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8347
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000404

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 29, 2008

REF: 07 ZAGREB 623

1. (U) REGIONAL COOPERATION EFFORTS ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT
BRING RESULTS...:
Croatia hosted a pair of meetings aimed at promoting greater
cross-border cooperation during May. On May 5, in Dubrovnik,
under the framework of the Mount Igman Initiative, officials
from the Dubrovnik region in Croatia; the municipalities of
Neum, Ravno and Trebinje in Bosnia-Herzegovina; and the
cities of Kotor, Tivat and Herceg Novi in Montenegro signed a
declaration on cooperation among their respective
institutions to respond to disasters and strengthen
infrastructure links. While attended by the three respective
Foreign Ministers, MFA officials stressed to the Embassy that
the real goal was to get municipal officials, who in the past
have failed or refused to work together, to improve their
coordination. Croatian FM Jandrokovic stressed the practical
benefits of the cooperation, noting that it was particularly
important how each entity had agreed that their personnel
would be able to cross borders to best respond to any crisis.
A follow-up meeting is expected to be held in Herceg Novi in
the fall. On May 27 Croatia also hosted a meeting in Zagreb
of foreign ministers from the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative
countries (including all Adriatic and Ionian littoral states
well). This meeting also focused on specific cooperation
projects in the areas of tourism, transportation, and
environmental management, including a task force to include
local authorities in developing "projects on fire protection
and mutual assistance." (RHoltzapple)

2. (U) ...BUT ALSO PROVIDE STAGE FOR ILL-TEMPERED RHETORIC:
Media coverage of the concrete achievements of the May 27
Adriatic-Ionian Initiative was overshadowed by Serbian FM
Jeremic's address to the ministerial in which he accused
Croatia of ethnic cleansing of the Krajina during the
Homeland War, and sharply criticized Croatia's decision to
recognize Kosovo. In response, Croatian FM Jandrokovic and
others observed that Jeremic's comments appeared driven
largely by domestic Serbian politics, but that the Croatian
offensives to re-take its territory during the Homeland War
had been a legal response to Serbia's attacks on Croatia, and
that recognition of Croatia was a simple acknowledgement of
the new political realities in the region. (RHoltzapple)

3. (U) CROATIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ENGAGE WITH IRAQI KURDS:
Croatian President Stjepan Mesic received members of the
Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government on 26 May 2008. The
Kurdish delegation, visiting Croatia at the invitation of
Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Damir Polancec, was led by the
region's Deputy Prime Minister Omer Fattah Hussein.
Discussions with Mesic focused on intensifying economic
cooperation between Croatia and Kurdistan, as well as Iraq as
a whole. Both governments spoke of the potential for
Kurdistan students to attend university in Croatia, and
Hussein issued an invitation from Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani to Mesic to visit Iraq. During a subsequent meeting
with Croatian businessmen at the local Chamber of Commerce,
Mr. Hussein highlighted opportunities for investment in the
reconstruction of Kurdistan's energy infrastructure,
agriculture and tourism sectors, as well as general
construction projects. Speaking to the press, Hussein
rejected comparisons between Kurdistan and Kosovo, and
instead emphasized the desire of the Kurdish people to be a
part of a federalized Iraq. (CRhoton)

4. (U) WHILE LOCAL OFFICIALS EXPLORE ECONOMIC COOPERATION
WITH IRAN:
Radimir Cacic, prefect of Varazdin County in northern Croatia
and president of Croatia's third-largest political party, the
HNS, visited the northern Iranian province of Khorasan Razavi
from May 16-20 with a delegation from the Varazdin Tourism
Board and Chamber of Commerce. The trip was apparently the
initiative of the Iranian Ambassador to Croatia, and
supported by the Croatian Ambassador to Iran, Esad Prohic,
who is also a member of the HNS. In a magazine article
chronicling his trip, Cacic said the Varazdin delegation
visited about 15 firms in Iran, including a biotechnology
center, but that the best prospects for trade seemed to be in
the food processing and construction sectors. In the
article, Cacic observed that international sanctions against
Iran meant it is easier to export Croatian products to Iran
than to buy Iranian products, and spent considerable time
detailing the strict controls on women in Iranian society.
He said a return visit by Iranian local officials to Croatia
may be arranged in the near future. (RHoltzapple)

5. (U) CONTROVERSIAL SINGER "THOMPSON" TO PERFORM ON ZAGREB'S
MAIN SQUARE:

ZAGREB 00000404 002 OF 002


On May 30, Marko Perkovic "Thompson", a controversial pop
singer of patriotic/nationalist songs whose concerts in the
past have drawn neo-Nazis to the audience (REFTEL), will be
the headline act at a concert on the Zagreb's main square to
mark the occasion of the Zagreb War Veterans' Day. The
concert is organized by the Association of Veterans of the
Homeland War (HVIDRA), and is partially financed by the
Zagreb city government. Responding to critical media
commentary about choosing such a controversial performer,
HVIDRA said they had chosen Thompson, a Croatian vet himself,
because he best represents their patriotism. HVIDRA and
Thompson held a press conference stating they will not
tolerate the presence of unwanted symbols and black uniforms
on the square. An estimated 350 policemen and 200 security
guards plan to secure the May 30th concert, although police
have acknowledged a lack of clarity under the law regarding
which sorts of clothing, symbols or language might be
prohibited. Thompson, who has recently had performances
banned in Austria and Switzerland on grounds that his
concerts might provoke public disorder, continues to deny any
fascist or anti-Semitic sympathies, and media reported that
at a concert in Stuttgart last week he attempted to publicly
distance himself from a group of neo-Nazi youth in his
audience. (DFisk)

6. (U) EMBASSY ZAGREB REACHES OUT TO AMERICANS THROUGHOUT
CROATIA:
Staff from the Consular Section and Public Affairs Office
joined to present American Citizens Services Nights at the
American Corners at the Zadar Public Library May 27 and the
Rijeka University Library May 28. Public Affairs Officer and
Vice Consul Marlene Nice, Federal Benefits Unit regional
assistant Martina Delija, and Senior Assistant for American
Citizen Services Verica Haramincic, provided information on
voter registration, U.S. elections, passport applications and
citizenship issues, as well as Social Security, Veterans
Affairs, civil service and other benefits. Attendees were
able to submit passport applications and receive notary
services. Some wanted to discuss possible careers in the
Foreign Service and issues about living in Croatia, including
Croatia's new Foreign Workers Visa Law. About 100 people
attended the meeting in Zadar and about 50 stopped by in
Rijeka. The next American Citizens Information Night is
scheduled for June 5 at the American Corner in the library in
Osijek. (MNice)

7. (U) EMBASSY ZAGREB CONTINUES STUDENT OUTREACH: The U.S.
Embassy in Zagreb was host to three student groups from the
University of Zagreb and two elementary school groups in May.
During the university-level visits, students learned about
the functions of the embassy and staff, Croatian-U.S.
relations and current events through brief presentations and
question-and-answer sessions with FSO's and locally employed
staff. Highlights of the visits included a behind the scenes
look at the Consular Section, a tour of the facility and
meeting the Ambassador or Deputy Chief of Mission and a U.S.
Marine. (MNice)
Bradtke

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