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Cablegate: Goc Welcomes Riga Language, Promises Continued

VZCZCXRO2820
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #1424 3341504
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301504Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6986
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ZAGREB 001424

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR DICARLO, EUR/SCE HOH, SAINZ, BALIAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS MARR NATO HR DEFENSE REFORM
SUBJECT: GOC WELCOMES RIGA LANGUAGE, PROMISES CONTINUED

REFORMS

1. (U) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: On November 30, MFA State
Secretary Hidajet Biscevic expressed to Charge d'Affaires the

SIPDIS
GoC's appreciation of the positive assessment of Croatia in
both the Riga communique and President Bush's speech. "We
think Riga was a joint step forward," he said, stressing the
GoC's commitment to continue all necessary reforms.

2. (U) Media reaction was mixed, with front-page headlines
ranging from "Green Light for Croatia in NATO!" in the
government daily to "Only a Third of Croats for NATO" in the
most right wing paper. The GoC will now try to build on the
communique's promise of invites to qualified candidates in
2008 and boost problematic public support for Alliance
membership. Post is extending active assistance to the GoC
in this effort. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

PRESS MIXED, "RESPECTABLE CROATS" PLEASED
-----------------------------------------

3. (U) Pro-NATO press commentaries were extremely positive,
calling the Riga Summit one of Croatia's greatest
international successes. Negative commentaries primarily
revealed the public's lack of understanding of NATO and the
Alliance's mission, repeating popular fears about the cost of
NATO membership in terms of money, soldiers, and sovereignty.
News of the first Croatian soldier wounded in Afghanistan on
November 24 seemed to push the usual NATO-naysayers to new
extremes, prompting one to call the new NATO "a war alliance
to conquer oil and gas."

4. (U) Biscevic dismissed these negative press commentaries,
stressing that USG and allied support for Croatia is "very
much appreciated by our government, our ministry, and all
respectable Croats." The GoC plans to issue a formal
statement regarding Riga later today. Biscevic added that
the pace of military modernization and reform will continue,
including GoC plans to increase Croatia's contribution to
NATO forces in Afghanistan to 200 troops in 2007.

5. (SBU) Biscevic noted that the communique's offer of
Partnership for Peace membership to BiH, Montenegro, and
Serbia will open new regional cooperation opportunities for
Croatia.
DELAWIE

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