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Cablegate: Pope Encourages Croatia's Eu Aspirations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001328

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL HR
SUBJECT: POPE ENCOURAGES CROATIA'S EU ASPIRATIONS


1. POPE JOHN PAUL II VISITED CROATIA BETWEEN JUNE 5-9 --
HIS THIRD VISIT TO THIS OVERWHELMINGLY CATHOLIC COUNTRY.
IN HIS OPENING ADDRESS ON ARRIVAL AT THE RIJEKA AIRPORT
THE POPE NOTED THAT "CROATIA RECENTLY SUBMITTED ITS
APPLICATION TO BECOME AN INTEGRAL PART, BOTH POLITICALY
AND ECONOMICALLY, OF THE BIG FAMILY OF EUROPEAN NATIONS
-- I CANNOT BUT EXPECT A DESIRE FOR FAST FULFILLMENT OF
THESE ASPIRATIONS."

2. THE VISIT DOMINATED THE CROATIAN MEDIA AND WAS
WITHOUT EXCEPTION PORTRAYED POSITIVELY. USING RIJEKA AS
A BASE, THE POPE TRAVELED TO DUBROVNIK AND ZADAR ON THE
COAST, AND TO OSIJEK AND DJAKOVO IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
KEY POLITICAL FIGURES INCLUDING THE PRESIDENT, PRIME
MINISTER AND FOREIGN MINISTER WELCOMED THE POPE'S
MESSAGE OF SUPPORT FOR THE COUNTRY'S EFFORTS TO JOIN THE
EUROPEAN UNION.

3. IN OSIJEK THE POPE GREETED A CROWD OF 200,000 AND
NOTED THAT IN THE AFTERMATH OF WAR, WHICH LEFT DEEP AND
STILL UNHEALED WOUNDS ON THE POPULATION, IT REQUIRES A
LOT OF COURAGE TO PROMOTE RECONCILIATION, SOLIDARITY AND
SOCIAL JUSTICE. THE PRESENCE OF SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
DIGNITARIES WAS AN IMPORTANT FEATURE OF THE VISIT.

4. GOC OFFICIALS REPORTED THAT RESTITUTION OF THE
CHURCH'S NATIONALIZED PROPERTY WAS NOT ON THE AGENDA IN
MEETINGS WITH PRESIDENT MESIC OR PRIME MINISTER RACAN.
GORAN GRANIC, A DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND THE GOC POINT
PERSON FOR RELATIONS WITH THE CHURCH, STATED THAT MANY
INDIVIDUALS AND INSTITUTIONS HAVE SIMILAR CLAIMS, BUT
THAT NO ONE SHOULD BE PRIVILEGED IN THIS PROCESS.
HOWEVER, PRESS REPORTS IN ADVANCE OF THE VISIT CITED
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE GOVERNMENT UNDER WHICH THE CHURCH
COULD RECEIVE AS MUCH AS 25 PERCENT OF THE STATE-OWNED
CROATIA INSURANCE COMPANY AS COMPENSATION FOR A PART OF
ITS PROPERTY NATIONALIZED UNDER THE COMMUNISTS.

COMMENT
-------

5. ACCORDING TO IVICA MASTRUKO, PRESIDENT MESIC'S
ADVISER FOR RELIGIOUS ISSUES AND CROATIA'S LONG-SERVING
AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN, THE POPE'S SUPPORT FOR
CROATIA'S EU ASPIRATIONS WAS PARTICULARLY AIMED TOWARD
THE LOCAL CHURCH, WHICH HAS BEEN VOCALLY SKEPTICAL OF
THE GOC'S EURO-ATLANTIC ASPIRATIONS. NATIONALIST AND
ISOLATIONIST TENDENCIES ARE MOST NOTABLE AMONG DALMATIAN
BISHOPS, SOME OF WHOM HAVE GONE AS FAR AS TO PUBLICLY
SUPPORT INDICTED WAR CRIMINALS. WHILE WE DO NOT EXPECT
ANY CHANGES IN THE POLITICAL VIEWS OF LOCAL CHURCH
OFFICIALS, THE VISIT SHOULD BOOST THE POSITION OF
ARCHBISHOP JOSIP BOZANIC, CROATIA'S TOP CHURCH OFFICIAL
AND A REPUTED MODERATE, WHO HAS A REPUTATION OF BEING
MORE IN LINE WITH THE VATICAN POLICY.

ROSSIN

NNNN

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