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Cablegate: Bosnia's Nikola Spiric Engages Czechs

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPG #1261 3320847
ZNR UUUCC ZZH
R 280847Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9860
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 0142
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0045

UNCLAS PRAGUE 001261

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EUR/NCE, EUR/SE, EUR/ERA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BH ETRD PREL PGOV EZ EUN
SUBJECT: BOSNIA'S NIKOLA SPIRIC ENGAGES CZECHS

REF: BRATISLAVA 623

1. (U) Summary: Nikola Spiric, who resigned as Bosnia and
Herzegovina (BiH) Council of Ministers Chairman on November
1, visited Prague on November 20-21 with Finance Minister
Dragan Vrankic and several BiH business leaders. Spiric met
with Prime Minister Topolanek, Deputy Prime Minister Vondra,
members of the upper and lower chambers of Parliament and
Czech businesses. During this visit, which has been on the
cards since last spring, Spiric appears to have focused
mostly on strengthening bilateral relations, particularly in
the economic sphere. As one concrete outcome from the visit,
the finance ministers signed a treaty preventing double
taxation. End Summary.

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Strengthening Economic Ties
----------
2. (SBU) The Czech Republic, which targets assistance to a
handful of "priority" countries, has identified Bosnia as one
of its top priorities. According to Czech MFA Bosnia desk
officer, Ales Cernik, Bosnia is second only to Serbia in the
amount of financial assistance provided by the GOCR to a
foreign nation. During the visit both sides committed to
strengthening business ties. The BiH Foreign Investment
Promotion Agency, which joined Spiric's delegation, gave a
presentation to Czech businessmen on general investment
opportunities, with a special focus on tourism. Cernik noted
that during the week of November 26 approximately 50
companies from Bosnia (and Serbia) will continue to discuss
investment opportunities with Czech business counterparts
here in Prague. He also mentioned the Czech Ministry of
Trade and Industry is working to put together a trade mission
to Bosnia next spring. Interestingly, the majority
state-owned Czech energy company (CEZ), which signed a 1.4B
Euro deal to refurbish and build power plants in Bosnia, is
its largest foreign investor, according to EUX.TV and Czech
officials. While Czech investment and economic assistance is
clearly important to Bosnia, as a Czech trade partner BiH
ranks in the 56th position. Also, Czech economic assistance,
which Cernik characterized as "subsidies" to this relatively
small economy, is mostly concentrated in the agriculture,
energy and environmental sectors.

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Kosovo and Internal BiH Politics
----------
3. (SBU) According to Czech MFA officials, Spiric did not
talk much about the situation in Kosovo or his own situation
in BiH. Apparently his only comment to Czech officials on
Kosovo Troika talks was to say that he would welcome a
positive outcome to the talks as long as there was "not a
subsequent negative impact on BiH." Regarding the political
situation in BiH, he apparently attributed much of the
current difficulty to a "lack of communication" from the
Office of the High Representative and Lajcak's actions on
police reform. In meetings with Czech officials he also
apparently cited reforms in the intelligence and defense
sectors as signs that BiH can conduct its own affairs.


4. (SBU) Comment: The Czechs pay close attention to
developments in the Balkans, and even have identified it as
one of their top three Foreign Affairs priorities for the
Czech EU Presidency commencing in 2009. This particular
visit, while highly unusual given the nebulous official
status of Spiric, was in keeping with both countries'
interests in strengthening economic ties.
Graber

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