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Cablegate: Visit of Holocaust Issues Envoy Kennedy to Zagreb

VZCZCXRO0285
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVB #0940 2890702
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160702Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8231
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ZAGREB 000940

SIPDIS

Pass to Gregg Rickman/SEAS

EUR FOR OHI, EUR/SCE

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM CASC HR
SUBJECT: VISIT OF HOLOCAUST ISSUES ENVOY KENNEDY TO ZAGREB

REF: ZAGREB 180
1. (SBU) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Ambassador Christian Kennedy, Special
Envoy for Holocaust Issues, was in Croatia September 19-21 to remind
GoC officials of their obligations to ensure a just settlement of
World War II and Communist era property claims, including those of
Holocaust victims and American Citizens. While draft legislation
currently under consideration by the GoC will provide U.S. citizens
some rights to file claims for restitution of expropriated property,
post is not optimistic that the GoC will pass this legislation
anytime before parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2008.
END SUMMARY AND COMMENT
2. (SBU) As a follow up to his February 2007 visit, Ambassador
Kennedy met with State Secretary Snjezana Bagic, (Ministry of
Justice), SDP opposition party legal advisor Ivo Josipovic, and
representatives of both the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of
Science, Education, and Sport. While hesitant to comment on specific
details in a proposed draft amendment to the 1996 Law on
Compensation of Property Dispossessed During Yugoslav Communist
Rule, State Secretary Bagic did relay her personal belief that any
amendments would ensure that all persons (foreigners and Croatians)
are entitled to seek redress, provided they have not already been
compensated under any preexisting bilateral agreement with the
Former Yugoslavia. (NOTE: The GoC has not shared with post the text
of the draft amendment. END NOTE)
3. SDP Opposition legal advisor, Ivo Josipovic, confirmed to
Ambassador Kennedy that his party anticipated that Property
Restitution would be on the political agenda following the
elections. Josipovic commented about the complicated layers of
competing claims on properties from World War II, the Communist era,
and finally the conflicts of the 1990s. Josipovic indicated that the
issue would require more discussion and that property restitution in
Croatia did not have a simple straightforward solution. He mentioned
that these problems might be best resolved on a "case by case
basis."
4. Holocaust Education and Training also remained high on Ambassador
Kennedy's agenda. In a meeting with the State Secretary of the
Croatian Culture Ministry, Jadran Antolovic, Croatia's participation
as a member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on
Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research was emphasized. The
discussion centered on the successes and challenges facing the
Jasenovac Memorial Museum as a platform for launching discussions
about Human Rights. In particular, the importance of the promotion
of tolerance as a tool to reduce tensions and promote reconciliation
was discussed at length. Ambassador Kennedy was briefed about
problems surrounding the restitution of cultural assets seized in
Croatia during the 1991-1995 wars and taken to Serbia. Of particular
concern to GOC officials was the return of items of Cultural
Heritage such as icons, religious artifacts, and works of art that
were stolen during the wars of the 1990s. Kennedy also raised the
need to return Jewish property seized after WWII and emphasized that
restitution was a necessary, although complicated, step. Kennedy
expressed his hope that the GOC would make a "moral statement" by
passing a restitution or compensation law in the months ahead.
5. In a luncheon hosted by DCM Vivian Walker, Ms. Snjezana Koren
(Historian, Lecturer, and author of elementary school history
textbooks), Ms. Alida Matkovic (Head of Multilateral Cooperation at
the Ministry of Science, Education, and Sport - in charge of
Holocaust Education Training), and Ms. Natasa Jovicic (Director of
Jasenovac Memorial Center) engaged in a lively and spirited debate
about the progress and remaining problems of Holocaust Education and
Training in the Republic of Croatia. Disagreement as to the extent
and depth of Holocaust Education in the State Educational Curriculum
during the Communist era, Tudjman era, and finally, under the
current administration was evident among invited guests. While
reaching consensus as to the successes or failures of Holocaust
Education in the Croatian school system clearly was beyond the scope
of this luncheon, all participants agreed that the topic of
Holocaust Education is clearly covered more today than in past
decades.
6. Ambassador Kennedy has cleared on this cable.

BRADTKE

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