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Cablegate: Zagreb Activity Report - July 11

VZCZCXRO6161
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0517/01 1960932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 140932Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8474
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000517

DEPT FOR EUR/SCE, EUR/RPM, EUR/PPD, PRM AND S/WCI LAVINE
OSD FOR POPOVICH

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KAWC HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB ACTIVITY REPORT - JULY 11

REF: ZAGREB

1. (U) CROATIAN FM ATTENDS SIGNING OF NATO PROTOCOL: Croatian
Foreign Minister Jandrokovic attended the signing of the NATO
Accession Protocol for Albania and Croatia in Brussels on July 9.
Croatian press reports, with headlines such as "From Now On NATO
Protects Us," featured Jandrokovic's praise of the Croatian
military, his affirmation of Croatia's intent to continue reforms,
and his comments that the admission of Croatia and Albania should
serve as a positive signal to other countries in the region to move
forward on their own paths toward Euro-Atlantic integration.

2. (U) AND MAKES FIRST BILATERAL VISIT TO SLOVENIA IN YEARS: A day
earlier, on July 8, Jandrokovic visited Slovenia, meeting with PM
Jansa and FM Rupel to discuss a range of open bilateral issues.
While the two governments have had several meetings on the margins
of other multilateral events, this was the first strictly bilateral
discussion between the two governments in several years. Both Rupel
and Jandrokovic said that bilateral relations were better "than they
sometimes appeared in public", and Rupel announced that Slovenia was
now prepared to let the EU open accession negotiations with Croatia
on the Fisheries chapter. Commenting on the most serious irritant
in Croatia-Slovenia relations, a series of maritime and land border
disputes, FM Jandrokovic said that the "quality" of any solution was
more important than how quickly it is resolved.

3. (U) A/S FRIED VISITS DUBROVNIK FOR CROATIA SUMMIT 2008: PM
Sanader hosted the Third Annual Croatia Summit in Dubrovnik on July
4-5. Participants including the President of Georgia; Prime
Ministers of Hungary, Slovakia, Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro; and
FMs of Poland, Sweden and Macedonia focused heavily on the future of
EU enlargement. The message was that Croatia, and any other
candidates, should not let the EU's internal difficulties over the
Lisbon Treaty distract them from the continued reforms and
negotiations needed to prepare and qualify for EU membership. More
valuable than the generally stilted presentations, was the
opportunity for side meetings on the margins. One conspicuous
absentee was the government of Serbia. PM Sanader told A/S Fried
that he had sent an invitation to President Tadic personally, but
that Tadic was not able to attend. A/S Fried, in his remarks, noted
his regret that no one from Belgrade was at the Conference.

4. (U) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT PRESIDENT DESCRIBES AMBITIOUS REFORM
AGENDA: In a July 10 meeting with the Ambassador, newly-elected
Constitutional Court President Jasna Omejec stressed that serious
reform was needed to improve the Court's effectiveness. The Court
currently struggles with a backlog of as many as 8000 cases, and
receives soem 5000 new cases annually, because current law provides
no limits on who has standing to bring a case. A single plaintiff
filed 790 separate cases in a single year. Justice Omejec said she
had begun a dialogue with the government on the necessary changes to
the law to allow the Court to focus its work on the most relevant
cases to protect human rights and Croatia's constitutional
principles.

5. (U) PRESIDENT MESIC IN MONTENEGRO: Croatian President Stipe
Mesic visited Podgorica, Montenegro on July 8. Both Mesic and his
host, President Filip Vujanovic, described cooperation between the
two countries as successful, with no open issues other than the
disputed Prevlaka peninsula, just south of Dubrovnik. Mesic said the
temporary arrangement for Prevlaka was working very well, with no
incidents reported thus far. The Croatian President described
Montenegro as the region's most serious candidate for EU membership
after Croatia.

6. (U) GOVT ADVANCES EFFORT TO DELIVER SERBS' PENSIONS: UNHCR's
Zagreb office was informed this week that the Croatian government
has taken a further step toward easing the requirements for ethnic
Serb returnees to receive "convalidation" of their pension rights
and be given credit for time employed in the Serb-occupied
territories during the 1990's conflict. On June 20, the Government
formally repealed an earlier decision setting a 1999 deadline to
apply for such convalidation, meaning that there is no longer any
deadline for such applications.

7. (SBU) TRIAL OF NATURALIZED AMCIT FOR WAR CRIMES BEGINS: On July
10, the Sisak County Court held the first hearing in the trial of
naturalized American citizen Zeljko Vrljanovic, who is accused of
killing civilians in the Novska area in March 1993. Vrljanovic, who
was arrested in Munich on the basis of an Interpol warrant in late
2007 as he was returning to the U.S. after a visit to Serbia, was
extradited to Croatia in December. His lawyer immediately filed a
motion to move the case from the court in Sisak to one of the four
regional courts in Croatia where staff have received specific
training in handling of war crimes cases. Post, which supported the
designation of the four chambers for war crimes cases, believes a
change of venue would provide a useful boost to the chances of an
adequate trial. A decision on the motion may be made in the coming
week, but the trial itself will likely recommence only in

ZAGREB 00000517 002 OF 002


September.

8. (U) PARLIAMENT ESTABLISHES CONFLICT OF INTEREST COMMISSION: The
Croatian Parliament has appointed the members of Croatia's first
Conflict of Interest Commission. This Commission was established as
part of Croatia's National Action Plan to Combat Corruption, and if
effective, would address a significant need in Croatia's efforts to
create clear rules and procedures for avoiding potential conflicts
of interest. The eleven member Commission consists of three
government politicians, three opposition politicians, and five
non-partisan appointees.

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