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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - December 23, 2008

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DE RUEHVB #0886/01 3581408
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231408Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8881
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000886

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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 - DECEMBER 23, 2008

1. (U) MINISTRY OF DEFENSE STATE SECRETARY DIES IN SKI
ACCIDENT:
Major General Gordan Cacic, State Secretary of the Ministry
of Defense for Policy and International Affairs, died in a
ski accident in Italy on Saturday, 20 December 2008. MG
Cacic previously served for seven years as the Director of
the Military Security and Intelligence Agency. He was a
graduate of the U.S. National Defense University, Industrial
College of the Armed Forces, as well as the George C.
Marshall Center for Security Studies. Cacic was one of the
most decorated officers of the Homeland War and his feats of
bravery and resilience in the face of enemy fire have
legendary status. He was very pro-U.S. in his views and was
a force for modernization in the Croatian Armed Forces. He
had been thought to be a viable candidate to replace the
current CHOD at the end of his mandate. (BMcAloon)

2. (U) NATO PROMOTED VIA TRAM IN ZAGREB:
The City of Zagreb Association of war veterans' clubs and the
city's managing company "Zagreb Holding" sponsored a tram
(streetcar) promoting Croatia's entrance into NATO. The tram
displaying NATO symbols and all member states' flags took its
maiden voyage down the streets of the Croatian capital on
December 22. It will continue running until Croatia becomes
a full member of the Alliance. Mayor Milan Bandic joined the
veterans and representatives of the Ministry of Defense on
the tram's first trip, which also took citizens for a free
ride. Mirko Ljubicic, who organized the campaign on behalf
of Zagreb veterans, said to the local press that the "tram
campaign was the nicest season's greeting to the veterans,
government and the citizens of Croatia." "Moreover, we wish
a Merry Christmas to our neighbors in Slovenia too, and ask
them to support us because we have always regarded the
Slovenes as our friends," Ljubicic said. Embassy Zagreb was
represented at the NATO tram event. (ZTomic, DMatijas)

3. (U) SHIPYARD WORKERS DEMONSTRATE:
Brodosplit, 3. Maj and Brodotrogir shipyard workers
demonstrated on Monday in Split, Rijeka and Trogir against
the privatization model that Croatia agreed to with the EU.
President of the Independent Brodosplit Union Assembly (NSB)
Nikica Veljaca is adamant that the shipyards not pay the
price for "the Croatian ticket to the EU." He maintains that
the losses the shipyards have accumulated are not the fault
of the workers but rather the "product of poor management,
performed by (managers) placed by the Government." The
messages from all 3 shipyards were similar. The protesters
insist on respecting the privatization laws, including the
provision in the privatization tenders that the core business
and the jobs remain after sale. (Note: In Croatia,
shipbuilding employs some 160,000 people. End Note.) Unions
also want the State to keep a 25-percent ownership stake in
the shipyards. Deputy Prime Minister Damir Polancec is to
meet with union representatives on Tuesday to discuss the
situation further. Unless an agreement is reached, the union
threatens to stage demonstration in Zagreb and even in
Brussels if necessary. (DMatijas)

4. EU: POLITICIANS NOTE NEED FOR DIALOGUE, BUT BLAST
SLOVENIAN "BLACKMAILING":
(U) In the wake of the Slovenian blockage of the opening
and closing of several EU chapters, Croatian politicians
across the political spectrum have emphasized the need to
increase talks between Ljubljana and Zagreb, but were
cool to the notion that Croatia should give ground on the
border dispute. Croatian PM Ivo Sanader labeled the
Slovenian actions as blackmail, and noted that he was
willing to meet with Slovenia Premier Bahut Pahor to
resolve the issue in the coming days, but insisted that
Croatia would not trade its territory for moving forward
in its EU bid. Because Zagreb viewed the Slovenian actions
as unprecedented in the history of European integration,
Sanader was also adamant that any meeting between the two
leaders would include EU officials as well. The leader
of Croatia's main opposition party, Zoran Milanovic, urged
dialogue between the two capitals, but also characterized
Slovenia's actions as blackmail.
Several smaller parties emphasized that Croatia should not
give-up too much vis-Q-vis the border in order to gain
entry to the EU. While Vesna Pusic, leader of the
opposition Croatian People's Party and chairwomen of
Croatia's bi-partisan EU negotiation council, criticized
Slovenia's actions and noted that Croatia would never
hamper the EU accession process for other countries
(such as Serbia, for one) because of outstanding bilateral
disputes. Croatia was able to open the "public
procurement" chapter for negotiations, and provisionally
close the chapters on "economic and monetary policy",

ZAGREB 00000886 002 OF 002


"intellectual property", and "information society and
media." (DMeges)
BRADTKE

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