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Cablegate: Employment Issue Bigger Than Minority Elections

VZCZCXRO7178
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0612/01 1781348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271348Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7853
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000612

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM HR MINORITIES

SUBJECT: EMPLOYMENT ISSUE BIGGER THAN MINORITY ELECTIONS

REF: A) 06 Zagreb 1421

B) 06 Zagreb 1333

1. SUMMARY AND COMMENT: The Minority Council elections held June 17
in 20 counties, 57 cities and 68 municipalities brought out only
eight percent of eligible voters and did little to change the public
impression that ethnic minority councils are largely symbolic.
These bodies, created to advance minority interests within local
governments, have generally been unable to articulate a "clear
vision" or reach agreement as to the precise role they are to
perform, continuing to hamper the overall effectiveness of these
largely perfunctory institutions.

2. However, key to the status of minority groups is the 2002
Constitutional Law on National Minorities (CLNM); a much more
proactive tool for the future promotion of minority rights vis-a-vis
employment opportunities in the public sector and political
participation. While efforts to guarantee minority representation
have had mixed results in the past, the GOC plans to designate 336
new positions for minorities in public services in 2007. END SUMMARY
AND COMMENT.

ELECTIONS - PAST COUNCIL PROBLEMS LIKELY TO REPEAT
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. Following the first Minority Council Elections in 2003, Minority
Councils across the country were plagued with numerous problems
undercutting their effectiveness. With no obligation to fund them,
many local governments have been accused of under-funding the
councils, preventing them from acquiring office space, purchasing
rudimentary office equipment, or even securing funds for basic
operational capabilities. This, when coupled with council members'
continued inability to clearly articulate the role of Minority
Councils, led to the overall ineffectiveness of these institutions.
In many cases, aside from the initial meeting, many Minority
Councils rarely even bothered to meet over the past four years.

4. As relatively weak institutions with little or no mandate or
vision, some Minority Councils were not even able to make a quorum
as members lost enthusiasm in their new roles. Viewed in many
quarters of Croatian society as unnecessary institutions, four years
after the passage of the 2002 Constitutional Law on National
Minorities, Minority Councils largely remain weak and ineffective
agents for promoting minority rights.

5. The limited success of minority councils has largely been felt
only in the area of cultural promotion; publishing of magazines,
cultural fairs, and in reducing the overall climate of fear and
intimidation minority members felt in previous years. A
representative of one minority council in the Zadar area told
PolOff, "Minority Councils have at least been successful in reducing
the overall climate of ethnic tensions. In 2003 we couldn't even
find candidates to run, however this time around we have had no
shortage of people willing to be placed on the lists. At least that
is some progress."

6. While representatives of 14 national minorities, or nearly
393,000 eligible voters were able to cast their ballots in the
elections, voter turnout was poor, estimated to be as low as 8
percent.

MINORITY EMPLOYMENT - A RAY OF HOPE...
-------------------------------------

7. The CLNM contains a provision to ensure proportional minority
employment in the public sector in places where a minority
constitutes at least 15 percent of the population, though four years
after passage authorities have not fully implemented it. While
employment of minorities has been a problem in the judiciary,
employment in the state administration has been a particularly acute
problem. The largest ethnic Serb NGO, Serb Democratic Forum,
published a survey in June 2006 covering 23 municipalities in five
regions where Serbs constituted a prewar majority and remained a
significant part of the population. In the towns of Glina, Petrinja,
Topusko, and Vojnic in the central area of the country, the report
found that Serbs made up 22 percent of the population but held only
3 percent of public administration jobs. In Benkovac, Drnis, Knin,
and Skradin in Dalmatia, Serbs made up 13 percent of the population
but held only 4 percent of public sector jobs.

8. Government efforts to remedy the significant under-representation
of minorities in state administration and judiciary to date have
been limited. In May, for the first time ever the Central State
Administration Office publicly presented changes to the plan for
employment in public services for 2007. GOC officials pledged that
of the 3,981 people to be employed in Ministries, State Offices and
institutes, 336 will come from national minority groups.

9. Currently, excluding the Ministry of Interior, national
minorities constitute approximately three percent of civil servants
employed at the national level, contrasted with 7.5 per cent of the
total pollution. At the county level, approximately six percent of

ZAGREB 00000612 002 OF 002


civil servants are national minorities. According to Minister of
Interior Ivica Kirin, in the Ministry of Interior 24,976 individuals
have been employed within the Police. Out of that number, 1,119 are
members of national minorities, 857 police officers and 362 civil
servants and employees. According to State Secretary for
Administration Antun Palaric, the number of ethnic minorities
employed in State Administration was increased by around 50 under
the current administration. Media reports claim that 124 additional
minority representatives are to be employed in the Justice Ministry,
50 in the Interior Ministry and 34 in the Finance Ministry.
Additional minority employment is also planned in the Ministries of
Culture and Economy, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of
Development and the Ministry of Agriculture as well.

10. The GoC has responded to past complaints about understaffing of
minorities in state administration with explanations of over-staffed
bureaucracies, low attrition, and a lack of job openings. While
these are all real challenges to addressing the minority employment
issue, the GoC finally seems to be developing a plan to confront
them.

BRADTKE

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