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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - June 5, 2008

P 051514Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8370
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000420

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM EAGR ETRD KCRM EUC HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - JUNE 5, 2008

1. (U) RIJEKA SYNAGOGUE OFFICIALLY OPENED:
Last week, the Jewish community of Rijeka formally re-opened
its synagogue after 15 years of reconstruction work. Vlado
Kon, President of the Rijeka Jewish Community noted that this
is the only synagogue in Croatia that has kept its original
function to this day. Constructed between the two world
wars, the small orthodox schull synagogue is one of only
three synagogues in Croatia that survived the destruction of
World War II. It was the smaller of two synagogues in
Rijeka, the larger one was completely destroyed by German
troops in 1944 and never reconstructed. The city of Rijeka
made the largest donation to the 2 million HRK ($430,000)
project. The national Ministry of Culture and
Primorsko-Rijeka County also made important contributions.
The synagogue also serves as a Jewish cultural center hosting
concerts, book presentations and exhibits. (MJelenc)

2. (U) THREE PUBLIC FIGURES BEATEN IN SEPARATE ATTACKS IN
ZAGREB:
In the past two weeks, three prominent public figures have
been physically assaulted on the streets of Zagreb, two with
grave consequences. On May 17, two individuals beat Igor
Radjenovic, CEO of Zagreb City Road Company "Zagrebacke
Ceste" with a baseball bat. Radjenovic, a member of the
opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Chief-of-Staff
to former Prime Minister Ivica Racan, sustained severe
injuries to the head. Both Radjenovic and the media link
this attack to his active cooperation with the Office for
Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) in an
ongoing investigation into "Zagrebacke Ceste." Then, on the
evening of June 2, two assailants armed with baseball bats
badly beat Dusan Miljus, a leading reporter on organized
crime issues. In the past six months, Miljus had publicly
received threats from family members of persons associated
with organized crime. As in the Radjenovic case, the
attackers remain unknown. Earlier on June 2, three young men
attacked Gordana Lukac-Koritnik, Croatia's Ombudsperson for
Gender Equality, when she reportedly asked them to stop
ethnic taunts and insults against visitors to the Serb
Orthodox Church near her offices in downtown Zagreb. She
sustained light injuries. All three of her assailants have
reportedly been apprehended. (ZTomic)

3. (U) CRITICS CONTINUE TO QUESTION NEW LAW ON FREE LEGAL
AID:
On May 16, the Parliament passed an amended Law on Free Legal
Aid, one of the EU's required "benchmarks" for Croatia before
EU accession negotiations on judicial affairs can begin. The
law entered into force on May 24, but it will be February
2009 before clients actually begin to benefit from it, when
regulations implementing the process are due to go into
effect. In the meantime, the government will set up regional
offices tasked to screen applicants and issue approvals for
the service. An earlier draft of this law was withdrawn from
Parliament in late 2007 under pressure from prominent human
rights NGOs and some international organizations that
objected to complicated administrative procedures. Critics
wanted the GoC to allow easier access to free legal aid and
remove stipulations that limited the NGOs' ability to offer
primary legal assistance. In its adopted form, the law
reduces the number of documents potential clients will need
to prove they qualify for assistance, and a last-minute
amendment allows direct access to primary legal assistance
from NGOs, i.e. without prior government approval. Ariana
Vela of Transparency International, who leads a group of 20
NGOs involved in drafting the law, said the improved law is
still flawed, containing contradictory stipulations. The law
did not explain how NGOs that offer primary legal assistance
will be able to register clients who arrive without a
government referral, or how they will be reimbursed by the
government for their work. The law also provides no budget
for 50 new employees needed to set up the regional offices.
The NGO consortium is discussing a likely request for review
of the new law by the Constitutional Court. (MJelenc)

4. (U) CROATIA ACCEPTED INTO AGRICULTURAL FELLOWSHIP
PROGRAM:
Croatia has been accepted into the Norman E. Borlaug
International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows
Program (Borlaug Fellows Program). Six months of
negotiations paid off during a recent visit to Croatia by a
Borlaug International Affairs Specialist who toured Croatian
bioscience colleges and decided that in 2009 Croatia should
send 3 to 5 Borlaug Fellows to the United States for 5 to 8
weeks of scientific exchange. Training venues include U.S.
land grant universities, USDA or other government agencies,
private companies, not-for-profit institutions and
international agricultural research centers. (AMisir)

5. (U) IMPLEMENTATION OF EU REQUIREMENTS HELPS OPEN CROATIA
TO U.S. PORK EXPORTS:
After two years of negotiation between American and Croatian
veterinary authorities, Croatia will accept freezing as a
legitimate method of killing trichinae, a species of
roundworm found in pork and wild game. Despite international
recommendations and guidelines to the contrary, past Croatian
legislation did not recognize this internationally accepted
control method. However, as of July 1, Croatia will accept
EU requirements on pork imports, including the recognition
that trichinae can be killed by freezing. This will lift
previous bans on U.S. pork exports to Croatia that regularly
use this method, thereby opening up a $3 million market for
U.S. pork exporters. (AMisir)

Bradtke

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