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Cablegate: Serbian President Tadic's Visit to Croatia: A

DE RUEHVB #0780 1811319
R 301319Z JUN 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Serbian President Boris Tadic visited Croatia on
June 27, meeting with President Stjepan Mesic, Prime
Minister Ivo Sanader, and traveling with President
Mesic to the town of Knin, where the two statesmen met
with ethnic Serb returnees. While the visit was held
in a highly positive atmosphere, the President of
Serbia told the press that the return of refugees was
not progressing as it should and invited the Croatian
government to ensure greater return of Serb refugees.
At the same time, Tadic called on the Knin Serbs to be
loyal Croatian citizens. President Mesic said that
Tadic's visit showed both countries' desire to continue
the process of bringing their relations to normal. "We
have ended wars, and now want to build peace. We want
everyone to attain the right to return home," Mesic

2. (U) Mesic and Tadic issues a joint, ten-point
statement, noting that the time of war had ended for
Croatia and Serbia, and that peace and progress were
the goals to strive for. They share the belief that
both nations must come to terms with the past, with
full cooperation with ICTY being of critical
importance. In addition to prosecuting war crimes, the
two countries will increase their efforts in shedding
light on the fates of the missing persons. The
presidents agree that good relations between Serbia and
Croatia have special meaning for the political climate
in the whole region. The two countries will
consistently respect and protect human and minority
rights, and will be especially committed to ensuring
the return of all refugees who wish to do so. Both
Croatia and Serbia see their future in a united Europe,
and will support and help each other in pursuing their
Euro-Atlantic ambitions.

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3. (U) Croatian political parties applauded the visit
and Tadic's statements, according to press reports.
President of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), Vesna
Pusic, stated that the return of Serb refugees was
important to both Croatia and Serbia and that it was no
longer a political issue, but rather, an economic one.
Goran Jandrokovic, president of the Parliamentary
Committee for Foreign Affairs, defined as extremely
important the message to the Serb minority in Croatia
to be loyal citizens. Serb minority MP Milorad Pupovac
stated that the meeting was marked by a very friendly
atmosphere. Sounding the sole discordant note,
president of the Serb People's Party (SNS) Milan Djukic
told the press that Tadic came to Croatia "as a
tourist" who wanted to "put on a show for Europe" and
not to solve the problems faced by Serb returnees.
Press commentary ranged from favorable to poetic, as in
this from daily Jutarnji List: "The other day in Knin,
Slobodan Milosevic died for the second time. Having
buried so many innocent victims, Serb expansionism
ended up as dissolution. Serbia is now on its own, and
maybe it is only now that it can become a democratic
state, a partner to the EU, and a good neighbor. At
the same time, the carefully prepared talks in Knin
discouraged the hardcore Croat nationalists and
nationalist policies that have already lost legitimacy,
from the election point of view, and made it clear to
them that in our beautiful country everyone, regardless
of ethnicity, faith, or skin color, must and can be
treated as equal and worthy citizens. Those are the
big things that happened during that completely
unconcrete but powerful meeting on the rocky Dalmatian

4. (SBU) One of President Mesic's advisors told DCM on
June 28 that the visit was a "complete success" and a
major step forward in bilateral relations.


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