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Cablegate: Osce Mission to Croatia: Winding Down Its Mandate

VZCZCXRO2506
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0642/01 1841536
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031536Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7885
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 000642

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR EUR/SCE, EUR/RPM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV OSCE PREF KWCI HR WAR CRIMES REFUGEES
SUBJECT: OSCE MISSION TO CROATIA: WINDING DOWN ITS MANDATE

REF: A. ZAGREB 565
B. ZAGREB 551
C. ZAGREB 472
D. ZAGREB 399
E. ZAGREB 227

(U) Sensitive but unclassified; please handle accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY and COMMENT. This is a joint Embassy Zagreb
and USOSCE cable and represents our strategy in moving
forward toward OSCE Croatia mission closure. While we
believe full closure could be achieved by the end of 2007,
there is no consensus on this issue among European missions
in Zagreb or in Vienna. OSCE mission closure remains high on
the GOC's priority list, and the GOC has stepped up its
efforts to complete the two remaining primary OSCE mandate
goals (Refs C and D): the GOC has agreed to meet specific
benchmarks on refugee return programs by the end of the year,
and has offered a proposal for monitoring domestic war crimes
trials.

2. (SBU) The GOC refugee return benchmarks are ambitious but
realistic, and the prospect of OSCE closure is the best
motivation for the GOC to achieve them. Achieving the bulk
of these targets will demonstrate clear forward momentum on
refugee programs, and will justify mission closure by the end
of the year. Continued OSCE monitoring of war crimes trials
is not necessary beyond this year, as local NGOs have
demonstrated adequate capacity (Ref E). However, given
concerns expressed by certain European countries that war
crimes trials will need monitoring into 2008, we may need to
compromise in allowing a follow-on structure to be created in
order to reach consensus. A reporting requirement or other
Vienna-based mechanism would also help overcome residual
concerns on refugee issues. Serbia is concerned that there
be an international role to keep up the pressure on both
issues and could insist on keeping the mission open if not
satisfied. END SUMMARY and COMMENT.

KEY MOMENT FOR CROATIA, BUT NO EUROPEAN CONSENSUS
--------------------------------------------- -------------

3. (SBU) The remainder of 2007 is the key opportunity both
for the international community to press hard on these core
issues and for the GOC to demonstrate it can achieve
technically what it has promised politically. There is clear
political will for progress, demonstrated last month by PM
Sanader's "personal commitment" to U/S Burns (Ref A).
Sanader's upcoming 10 July visit to the OSCE in Vienna will
keep up the GOC's momentum and further signal its plans
ahead.

4. (SBU) The Head of the OSCE Mission in Croatia and some key
European missions agree it is time for OSCE resources to be
re-allocated to priorities elsewhere; many are neutral; and
some are strongly opposed: in particular, the head of the
European Commission delegation in Zagreb wants to continue
the OSCE presence to support progress on some difficult
acquis communitaire issues relating to Croatia's upcoming EU
membership. Some European countries want the OSCE to remain
in order to monitor and press for progress on the key mandate
issues of refugee return and war crimes trial monitoring.
The Serbian delegation in Vienna has insisted privately to
USOSCE that there be some type of international umbrella for
continued monitoring not only of war crimes trials but also
issues related to refugee return.

5. (SBU) A decision will have to be taken at the end of the
year either closing the mission or extending it; lack of
consensus on either will de facto close the mission.

REFUGEES: CLEAR BENCHMARKS FOR 2007
---------------------------------------

6. (U) On numerous occasions (ref B and C), the GOC has
agreed to meet the following benchmarks on the refugee
portfolio:
-- 1. Four hundred apartments outside the Areas of Special
State Concern (ASSC) allocated - about 10% of program
applications;
-- 2. One thousand apartments inside the ASSC allocated -
about 30% of remaining program applications;
-- 3. Convalidation (pension credit for time worked under the
Serb administration) solution finalized;
-- 4. Residents in Vukovar in OTR (occupancy and tenancy
rights holders -- former tenants of socialized housing)
apartments possess leases and appropriate paperwork.

7. (U) In the GOC's regular "Plenary Meeting" with the OSCE
held on 19 June, Minister for Sea, Transport, Trade and
Development Bozidar Kalmeta reported that the GOC has

ZAGREB 00000642 002 OF 003


purchased 136 apartments and has allocated 50 (e.g.
beneficiaries are living in the apartments) outside the ASSC.
The GOC plans to purchase another 190 this year and complete
the program by the end of 2009, a timeline sped up at the
urging of the international community. Approximately 4,500
families have applied to the program. Apartment purchase and
construction remains very slow; along with the OSCE, the EU,
and the UNHCR, we continue to press for speedy implementation.

8. (SBU) Inside the ASSC, about 4,500 out of 8,000 total
applications have been resolved (note: people of all
ethnicities and those who have been living in the Vukovar
region). There are about 3,000 families who have received an
approval and are awaiting housing. A critical impediment to
program implementation remains the convoluted land ownership
registry, as well as permitting, zoning, and other local
procedures. Nevertheless, the GOC is on the hook to resolve
these "technical difficulties." While many other facets of
the refugee program remain, progress on OTR benchmarks will
be our key indicator for measuring success this year. If the
bulk of these targets are not achieved, we would consider a
continued - but reduced - presence for 2008. The
international community (including Embassy Zagreb) will
remain vigilant in monitoring further progress in the years
to come. We will also encourage other bilateral missions to
become actively engaged on refugee returns, and will continue
to engage them on OSCE-related issues.

WAR CRIMES MONITORING: FUNCTION OVER FORM
-------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) Minister of Justice Ana Lovrin assured the OSCE and
Zagreb of the GOC's commitment to prosecute war crimes
regardless of ethnicity, and reaffirmed Croatia's commitment
to strong regional cooperation, which has included
facilitating testimony of Croatian witnesses in Belgrade's
Special War Crimes Chamber and arranging for witnesses from
both Bosnia and Serbia to testify in Croatian courts.
Croatia's Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic has led efforts
to promote cooperation among prosecutors and recently
transferred evidence to his counterparts in both Montenegro
and Serbia so suspects who cannot be extradited to Croatia
can be tried in other jurisdictions. In addition, the Zagreb
County Court recently began hearing the Ademi-Norac case; it
received significant public attention. Both presiding judge
Marin Mrcela and prosecutor Antun Kvakan are close Embassy
contacts -- their competence and intense public scrutiny
should keep this trial on track.

10. (SBU) A war crimes monitoring function will not be
necessary beyond 2007 -- both local NGO trial monitoring and
extensive media attention now help ensure accountability of
the judiciary. Local NGOs have demonstrated adequate
capacity through two years of monitoring supported by Embassy
grants (ref E). However, there is no consensus in the
international community on the continued need for OSCE trial
monitoring; several European bilateral missions (notably the
British, Swedes and the EC delegation), are pushing for the
OSCE presence to monitor not only the ICTY cases but also the
dozens of domestic war crimes trials. Therefore, we may need
to compromise in allowing some type of follow-on structure to
be created for at least the next year to monitor the
Ademi-Norac case, transferred from the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) under rule 11bis,
as well as domestic war crimes trials.

The Future of the OSCE in Croatia
---------------------------------

11. (SBU) On war crimes issues, some type of follow-on
structure may be a feasible compromise in order to reach
consensus on closing the mission at the end of 2007. A war
crimes monitoring operation could be staffed by local
employees, in particular those who are experienced with local
trial monitoring. The Chief State Prosecutor believes this
presence should include an international head; Serbia is
likely to press for it, and try to enlist Russian help. A
follow-on structure could be directed from either Vienna or
Warsaw, and should be very small; it should not be necessary
beyond 2008. A condition of this extended presence, however,
should include an investment in capacity-building efforts,
working closely with local NGOs to mentor them on appropriate
trial monitoring activities and reporting, as Embassy Zagreb
has done through its War Crimes program. This final phase
should fully address any European concerns about local
capacity. By mid to late 2008, we expect the Ademi-Norac
case would be completed, and the structure would be able to
transition its domestic trial monitoring completely to local
organizations.

12. (SBU) On refugee return issues, failure of the GOC to

ZAGREB 00000642 003 OF 003


meet its commitments or the need to achieve a broad consensus
may also require some kind of follow-on reporting mechanism,
with enagement from Vienna or Warsaw.

COMMITMENTS ON ADDITIONAL MANDATE ITEMS
------------------------------------------

13. (U) In its OSCE Plenary Meetings, the GOC has agreed to
complete other mandate-related items. The GOC committed in
writing to OSCE HOM Fuentes to:
-- provide adequate resources for the ombudsman and
Constitutional Court;
-- complete elections for the Constitutional Court before
Parliamentary elections (expected in November);
-- approve the Law on Free Legal Aid, incorporating Council
of Europe suggestions, and present it to Parliament in July.
In addition, the GOC held a roundtable, attended by the Prime
Minister, on expanding minority employment within the state
administration, and plans a follow-up roundtable in the fall.
By the end of 2007, all remaining commitments should be
achieved.
BRADTKE
BRADTKE

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