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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - November 7, 2008

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000782

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OSD FOR POPOVICH

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TAGS: PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - NOVEMBER 7, 2008

1. (U) ELECTION BREAKFAST FOR KEY CONTACTS GENERATES WIDE
MEDIA COVERAGE:
Ambassador Bradtke hosted a post-election breakfast early on
November 5 for over 300 key embassy contacts from the
Croatian government, the media, academia, and the business
and diplomatic communities. Despite the early start, turnout
was impressive, with guests eager to discuss the final
results as they came in, including in the Alaska Senate race
in which Croatian-American (and Anchorage mayor) Mark Begich
was the Democratic candidate. Prominent guests included
Foreign Minister Jandrokovic, Zagreb Mayor Bandic, as well as
assistant ministers and state secretaries, NGO leaders and
academics. Featuring multiple wide screen televisions
carrying the latest election news from television networks
and the internet, the event took place in the ballroom of the
downtown Esplanade hotel. The morning's program included a
digital video conference with Dr. David Schaller, an expert
on American government and the U.S. presidency at the
University Maryland in Baltimore, and a video clip from
Croatian National Television correspondent Anka
Bilic-Keserovic, who is currently in the United States on an
International Visitor elections program. With the hotel's
elegant ballroom as a backdrop, the Ambassador granted both
live and recorded interviews to HTV, RTL, Nova TV, Croatian
Radio, Radio 101 and national daily Novi List. Other
newspapers and magazines sent photographers to cover the
event, with prominent next day coverage. (KWetzel)

2. (U) AMBASSADOR BRADTKE LIVE ON RADIO 101 ON ELECTION DAY:
The previous evening, Ambassador Bradtke was the featured
guest on Radio 101's weekly diplomatic program on November 4,
discussing the U.S. general elections, and answering a wide
variety of questions from live callers on everything from
campaign finance to the workings of the electoral college.
Beyond the elections, the Ambassador also discussed the
international financial crisis, transatlantic relations, and
the security situation in Zagreb with the program's
well-known host Zrinka Vrabec-Mojzes. The Ambassador has
appeared on this popular hour-long radio program three times,
engaging in conversation with one of Croatia's most respected
journalists and connecting with Zagreb citizens in a live
format. (KWetzel)

3. (U) FULBRIGHT ALUMNI HOLD PANEL ON 2008 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTIONS:
The Croatian Fulbright Alumni Association and the
Croatian-American Society organized a panel discussion on the
U.S. Elections on October 30 at Zagreb University's School of
Humanities and Social Sciences. Fulbright alumnus and
professor of history Tvrtko Jakovina introduced the panel and
showed biographies of the candidates through State's Video
Acquisition Service. Ivan Grdesic, former Croatian
Ambassador to the U.S., professor of political science, and
two-time Fulbright alumnus; Vedrana Spajic, Fulbright Alumna
and professor of comparative education; and Ivo Banac,
professor of history at Yale and Zagreb universities and
President of the Croatian Helsinki Committee, gave short
overviews of the candidates and issues in the 2008 U.S.
elections. More than 100 senior students of history,
sociology, English, political science, and a number of
faculty attended this event. In a ninety-minute discussion a
variety of questions were raised about the programs of the
Democratic and Republican candidates on a wide range of
issues: U.S. foreign policy, economy, energy, environment,
terrorism, abortion, education. (RPost)

4. (U) GLAVAS AND DJAPIC, RIGHT-WING HEADLINERS, TO GO HEAD
TO HEAD IN OSIJEK CITY ELECTIONS:
Branimir Glavas--currently standing trial for war
crimes--announced on October 31 that he would seek his
party's nomination for the mayorship of Osijek. Glavas said
he was confident his trial would end in an acquittal, and
that he looked forward to campaigning against Croatian Party
of Rights (HSP) leader Anto Djapic. Djapic, who has not yet
formally announced his candidacy, boasted in September that
despite the right-wing HSP's poor showing in the November
2007 general election, the party would stage a "great
comeback" in local elections. HSP leaders have been working
to reorganize the party branches and promote new faces, while
sidelining self-aggrandizing "false party stars," who
neglected the building of local party infrastructure. The
HSP hopes to maintain control in Osijek, Sisak, and Slavonski
Brod, and potentially expand its position in Sibenik, but
will face a potentially difficult battle with Glavas' local
HDSSB party. (DMeges)

5. (U) TRADE DEFICIT GROWS AS ANALYSTS FORECAST SLOWING GDP
GROWTH:

ZAGREB 00000782 002 OF 002


According to preliminary data from the Croatian Bureau of
Statistics, Croatian exports totaled
HRK 52.27 billion ($9.5 billion) in the first nine months of
2008, while imports totaled HRK
115.59 billion ($21.0 billion). Compared to the same period
in 2007, these amounts represent an
8.3 percent rise in exports, a 13.6 percent rise in imports,
and an 18.4 percent increase in the
trade deficit. In its October 31st Croatian Economic Outlook
Quarterly, the Zagreb Institute of
Economics forecasts GDP growth at 4 percent for 2008,
dropping to 3.8 percent in 2009. Forecasts
released by the European Commission on November 3 indicate
3.5 percent growth in GDP for 2008,
falling to 3 percent in 2009. The Commission attributes the
slowdown to a strong deceleration in
the growth of household consumption, partly due to lower
government transfers to pensioners and
slowing credit growth. (DWestfall)

6. (U) DIRECTOR OF MIT LIBRARIES ADDRESSES CROATIAN ACADEMIC
AND SCIENTIFIC LIBRARY CONFERENCE:
Dr. Ann Wolpert, the Director of Libraries at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was the keynote
speaker at the annual conference of the Croatian academic and
scientific libraries in Zagreb. Speaking about "The Value of
Academic Libraries in the 21st Century", Dr. Wolpert spoke
about the international, inter-institutional and
interdisciplinary aspects of the modern library, emphasizing
the current convergence of instruction, publishing and
information management. Dr. Wolpert provided an overview of
the organization and activities of the MIT libraries,
discussing cooperation with faculty in identifying research
and development needs. Focused on continuing education for
librarians and information professionals, the annual
conference provides information on the latest trends,
products, and technologies for managing information
resources. Apart from the lecture at the conference, Dr.
Wolpert also held a workshop for librarians entitled "Coffee
with Ann" and lectured the University of Zadar. The U.S.
Embassy helped sponsor her trip to Croatia. (KWetzel)

7. (U)DCM SPEAKS ABOUT THE AMERICAN DREAM TO UNIVERSITY
STUDENTS IN OSIJEK:
Deputy Chief of Mission Vivian Walker gave a lecture on the
American Dream on November 3 in Osijek, the capital of the
eastern Croatian region of Slavonia. Drawing on themes from
U.S. history, politics, culture, and literature, the DCM
discussed the concept of the American Dream with 60 students
from the Drama Academy and the English Department at the
University of Osijek. The speech generated questions on
contemporary social issues in both the United States and
Croatia. Such events are greatly appreciated at regional
universities which do not receive a large number of
international speakers. The Embassy has long enjoyed strong
relations with the English Department at the University of
Osijek, through providing Fulbright scholars and senior
specialists, English Language Fellows and through book and
DVD donations. (KWetzel)
Bradtke

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