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Cablegate: Croatia's New Icty Pifwcs Depart Voluntarily For

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

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000425

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE
THE HAGUE FOR JOHNSON AND KAYE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KAWC HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA'S NEW ICTY PIFWCS DEPART VOLUNTARILY FOR
THE HAGUE

REF: ZAGREB 380

INFORMATION IS SENSITIVE, BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE TREAT
ACCORDINGLY.

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) ON MARCH 11, AS EXPECTED, RETIRED CROATIAN GENERALS
MLADEN MARKAC AND IVAN CERMAK DEPARTED VOLUNTARILY FOR THE
HAGUE TO FACE WAR CRIMES INDICTMENTS. PRESS REPORTS INDICATE
THAT MARKAC AND CERMAK WERE TAKEN INTO CUSTODY UPON ARRIVAL
IN AMSTERDAM. ICTY ISSUED A STATEMENT WELCOMING CROATIA'S
COOPERATION ON THIS CASE. POLITICAL REACTION IN ZAGREB HAS
BEEN PREDICTABLE AND RELATIVELY MINIMAL. PM SANADER AND
OTHER GOC OFFICIALS OBJECT TO THE INDICTMENT'S
CHARACTERIZATION OF CROATIA'S WAR OF INDEPENDENCE AS A
"CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE" BUT NOTE THAT THE PLACE TO VOICE THESE
OBJECTIONS IS BEFORE THE COURT. MOST POLITICAL FIGURES
SUPPORTED THE TRANSFER OF THE TWO INDICTEES. EXTREME
RIGHT-WING POLITICIANS, HOWEVER, CALLED THE HDZ GOVERNMENT'S
ACQUIESCENCE "HIGH TREASON." END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) ACCORDING TO THE PRESS, THE CROWD THAT GATHERED AT
ZAGREB'S AIRPORT ON THE MORNING OF MARCH 11 TO BID FAREWELL
TO CROATIA'S LATEST ICTY INDICTEES WAS SMALL, WELL-BEHAVED
AND MELANCHOLY, RATHER THAN ANGRY. RETIRED CROATIAN GENERALS
MLADEN MARKAC AND IVAN CERMAK DEPARTED VOLUNTARILY FOR
AMSTERDAM ON A REGULARLY-SCHEDULED FLIGHT. THE PRESS REPORTS
THAT THEY WERE TAKEN INTO ICTY CUSTODY SHORTLY AFTER ARRIVAL.

3. (SBU) THERE WAS NEVER ANY REAL DOUBT AS TO WHETHER THE
TWO WOULD SURRENDER (REF). THE FACT THAT THEY WERE THE NEXT
LIKELY INDICTEES HAS BEEN AN OPEN SECRET IN THE CROATIAN
PRESS FOR MONTHS. IN ALL OF HIS PUBLIC STATEMENTS, PM
SANADER HAS CONSISTENTLY INSISTED THAT HIS GOVERNMENT WOULD
COOPERATE FULLY WITH ICTY. SOME OPPOSITION LEADERS CALLED
FOR A DEBATE ABOUT THE INDICTMENT IN THE PARLIAMENT, BUT THIS
CALL WAS REJECTED BY THE GOVERNMENT. FORMER PM RACAN TOOK A
CHEAP POLITICAL SHOT AT SANADER BY CALLING FOR "ALL HDZ
MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT'S DECISION." SANADER SHOT
BACK BY CALLING ON ALL MEMBERS OF CROATIA'S SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC
PARTY TO RE-ELECT RACAN AS PARTY PRESIDENT AND THEREBY ASSURE
THE HDZ OF ANOTHER TERM IN OFFICE.

4. (SBU) SANADER OBJECTED TO LANGUAGE IN THE INDICTMENT
WHICH BROADLY DESCRIBES THE ACTIONS BY CROATIAN FORCES IN
"OPERATION STORM" AS A "JOINT CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE" AND NAMES
FORMER PRESIDENT FRANJO TUDJMAN AS AN ACCOMPLICE. AMONG
OTHER OBJECTIONS, SANADER BRISTLED AT LANGUAGE THROUGHOUT THE
INDICTMENT WHICH STATES THAT THE GOAL OF CROATIAN FORCES'
ACTION WAS THE DEPORTATION AND FORCED DISPLACEMENT OF ETHNIC
SERBS FROM THE KRAJINA REGION. BUT TO HIS CREDIT, SANADER
INSISTED THAT THE ONLY APPROPRIATE PLACE TO VOICE THESE
OBJECTIONS IS BEFORE THE COURT. FEW CROATIAN POLITICIANS ARE
DISCUSSING THE INDICTMENT'S DAMNING DESCRIPTIONS OF MURDERS,
PLUNDER AND WANTON DESTRUCTION IN THE KRAJINA REGION
FOLLOWING "OPERATION STORM."

5. (SBU) THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS OBJECTIONS TO THE GOC DECISION
TO TRANSFER MARKAC AND CERMAK CAME FROM IVIC PASALIC AND
MIRKO CONDIC. (NOTE: IVIC PASALIC CHALLENGED SANADER FOR THE
PRESIDENCY OF THE HDZ PARTY IN 2002 AND NARROWLY LOST; HE
THEN FORMED THE "CROATIAN BLOC" PARTY, WHICH WON NOT A SINGLE
SEAT IN RECENT PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. CONDIC HEADS A
HIGHLY POLITICIZED CROATIAN VETERANS ORGANIZATION.) PASALIC
AND CONDIC ACCUSED SANADER OF "HIGH TREASON."

6. (SBU) INITIAL PUBLIC REACTIONS TO THE GOC'S DEMONSTRATION
OF COMMITMENT TO COOPERATION WITH ICTY ARE POSITIVE. ICTY
SPOKESWOMAN FLORENCE HARTMANN TOLD THE PRESS THAT THE COURT
WELCOMES THE "ENCOURAGING STEP" AND THAT "PROGRESS HAD BEEN
MADE." SHE ALSO SAID THAT SHE "EXPECTS CROATIA TO PROCEED
WITH ALL OTEHR REQUESTS MADE BY THE TRIBUNAL," A CLEAR
REFERENCE TO

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