Cablegate: Minority Agreement Formalizes Protections

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





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Minority Agreement Formalizes Protections

Ref: (1) Zagreb 2103 (2) Belgrade 2482

Summary and Comment

1. (SBU) During his historic visit to Belgrade on 15
November (Refs), PM Sanader and SAM PM Tadic signed an
agreement on the protection of minorities in the two
countries. Focused on the ethnic Croat and ethnic Serb
minorities in each country, the agreement does not set
out new protections, but rather confirms the legal rights
of the two minority groups and establishes a commission to monitor
progress and implementation. The third such bilateral
minority agreement for Croatia, its significance is
largely symbolic in establishing a technical framework
for protection and discussion of minority issues. End
Summary and Comment.

2. (SBU) Ethnic Serb party MP Milorad Pupovac told us he
was generally pleased with the agreement, and fought
successfully with the MFA for the inclusion of several
provisions: references to refugee issues, the composition
of the implementing commission, and 'acquired rights' -
referring to legal minority rights of ethnic Serbs
which he believes are key. He remains most interested in
ensuring the right to use minority languages and promoting the
activities of the National Minority Council in Croatia.
Regarding the PM's visit to Belgrade, Pupovac was
disappointed that the PM declined to visit the ethnic
Serb refugee committee along side his visits with the
Croat community and the Catholic Church. The agreement
also formally allows the GOC to support ethnic Croats in
SAM, he noted. Some ethnic Serb refugee groups, Pupovac
said, criticized SAM for not pushing the missing persons
issue more during negotiations.

3. (SBU) According to Dunja Jevak, South East European
Director at the MFA, the agreement contains no new
elements but provides a standard for both countries. The
GOC is ahead of SAM in terms of minority representation
and treatment, Jevak stated, and this agreement helps
move SAM in the right direction. Jevak admitted the
Ministry's initial resistance to provisions pushed by the
SDSS but agreed after recognizing that refugee issues
were germane to the agreement and that no additional
protections were involved.

4. (U) The agreement offers similar protections as under
the Constitution, including the right to education and
public use of minority script (the parties agreed to
special legislation on this point and on curriculum
issues). It pledges to support employment of minority
members in education and to promote the availability of
educational centers and media programs for minorities.
In addition, the commitment to minority participation in
local, regional and national government was confirmed, as
was the protection of minority rights. Unlike Croatia's
other minority agreements, it establishes a joint
committee to monitor implementation to be selected by
Croatia's National Minority Council. Minority agreements
were previously signed with Italy and Hungary.


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