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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - December 12, 2008

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8848
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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OSD FOR POPOVICH

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TAGS: PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - DECEMBER 12, 2008

1. (U) PM SANADER EMPHASIZES EQUALITY ON FIRST VISIT TO
ZAGREB MOSQUE:
On Monday, December 9, Prime Minister Sanader paid his first
visit ever to the Zagreb Mosque on the occasion of Eid
al-Adha. Sanader greeted the Mufti of Zagreb, Mufti
Omerbasic, with a traditional Muslim greeting, attended
celebratory ceremonies and took a tour of the mosque.
Sanader said that his presence demonstrated that the
government of Croatia is a government of "all Croatian
citizens" and asked that Croatians remember that people of
all faiths defended Croatia during the Balkan wars and many
Muslim soldiers gave their lives so that Croatia could be
independent. (JNCallahan)

2. (U) VISIT BY RADICAL SERB POLITICIAN TRANSPIRES WITHOUT
INCIDENT:
Deputy President of the Serb Progressive Party, Aleksandar
Vucic, completed a three day visit to Croatia on Wednesday,
December 10. Vucic had heavy police protection as he visited
Serb returnees in the Zadar region of the country. There
were no incidents of violence reported. Vucic stated that he
did not wish to open old wounds but only to help "those
forgotten by Serbia." He pledged to create aid programs for
Croatian Serbs, which he intends to submit to the Serbian
parliament for approval. Returnees complained about lack of
job opportunities and basic services such as electricity.
Vucic shocked the local Croatian media when he claimed to
have never heard of a well known massacre that took place in
a nearby village, though Vucic did say he condemns any war
crimes that may have been committed. (JNCallahan)

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3. (SBU) MINISTERIAL VISITS BETWEEN CROATIA AND SERBIA:
On December 10, the Croatian Minister of Culture, Bozo
Biskupic, met his Serbian counterpart Nebojsa Bradic.
Biskupic thanked Bradic for creating a new commission at the
Serbian Ministry of Culture for the return of cultural
artifacts taken from Croatia during the war. (Note: The GoS
recently gave back some artwork that was removed from Croatia
at the time of the war.) The Croatian MFA and the Serbian
Embassy informed post that Serbian Minister of Internal
Affairs Ivica Dacic was also scheduled to visit Zagreb this
week. (PD'Amico)

4. (U) ANTI-GOVERNMENT FACEBOOK DEMONSTRATION FIZZLES:
On Friday, December 5th, rallies organized by the Facebook
group "You tighten your belts, you bunch of thieves," were
held in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and six other smaller towns in
Croatia. The group has approximately 60,000 followers on
Facebook, but only some 1,000 to 2,500 people attended the
event in Zagreb, while total attendance throughout the
country was around 3,500 people. Inclement weather kept the
number of protesters down. Organizers stressed that the
protests were non-political and were intended for the average
Croatian to voice their frustration with the government.
Speeches criticized the political elite from all sides, the
media, trade-unions, and civil-society organizations. The
group voiced approximately twenty demands to the national
parliament including a fair review of the privatization
process, clampdown on organized crime, cuts in the prices of
basic consumer goods, and taxes on luxury goods. The
demonstrations were criticized by some for lack of
organization while others pointed out the importance of
social networking sites as an outlet for dissent.
(JNCallahan)

5. (U) RANDOM ACT UNDERSCORES SECURITY VULNERABILITIES AT
THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT:
Around 2PM local time on December 5, a 34 year-old war
veteran deliberately crashed his
Yugo-model car into the entrance of the Croatian parliament
on St. Mark's square near several
other important government offices. The motives for the
incident have not been made public.
No one was injured in the incident, and the doors to the
parliament building were minimally
damaged. The ease with which the driver was able to approach
parliament has surprised the
public and highlights the light security footprint around
Croatia's key government buildings.
(DMeges)

6. (U) DANISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES ON CROATIA'S NATO
ACCESSION PROTOCOL:
On December 9 the MFA reported that it has been notified that
the Parliament of Denmark has
approved Croatia's NATO accession protocol. The MFA noted
that this vote makes

ZAGREB 00000854 002 OF 002


Denmark the 11th NATO member country whose parliament passed
the protocol. (PD'Amico)
BRADTKE

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