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Cablegate: Zagreb Weekly Activity Report - August 20, 2009

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DE RUEHVB #0509/01 2330800
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P 210800Z AUG 09
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000509

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FOR EUR/SCE, EUR/PPD, EUR/RPM AND EUR/ERA
OSD FOR POPOVICH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR
SUBJECT: ZAGREB WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT - AUGUST 20, 2009

REF: A. ZAGREB 459
B. STATE 68590

1. (U) MESIC TO TRAVEL TO CUBA THEN UNGA:
Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, who is nearing the end of
his second and final term in office, is planning to visit
Cuba prior to his participation in the 2009 UN General
Assembly (UNGA). Mesic last traveled to Cuba in 2006 when
Havana hosted the conference of the non-aligned movement;
Croatia is an observer in the NAM. Mesic will lead the
Croatian delegation to the UNGA (REFS A and B), and Mesic
will probably arrive in New York on September 21 and stay
through September 24. (DMEGES)

2. (SBU) VILOVIC SET TO BE CROATIA'S NEW REP TO THE UN:
Acting Croatian Ambassador to the United Nations, Ranko
Vilovic, on September 1 should formally assume the duties of
Chief of Mission in New York and become Croatia,s Permanent
Representative to the United Nations Security Council. Local
media began speculating that Vilovic would be given the
position in late July after the Croatian Parliament publicly
recommended to President Mesic to oust Croatia's previous
PermRep, Neven Jurica. Mesic's assistant foreign policy
advisor confirmed to us that in early August President Mesic
and Prime Minister Kosor signed the act that would formally
replace Jurica with Vilovic as UN PermRep. Vilovic is a
career diplomat with several years of experience working
within the UN system and has been Jurica's deputy in New
York. Jurica, who has not been actively at his post since
mid-April when he was hospitalized for internal bleeding, is
now under investigation in Croatia for alleged corruption
involving the misuse of some $150,000 of the UN Mission's
budget. (DMEGES)

3. (SBU) PROSECUTORS SCORE TACTICAL POINT IN RONCEVIC
IMMUNITY DENIAL:
Acting on a request from Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic,
a parliamentary committee on August 19 accepted that
Croatia's recently adopted Criminal Procedure laws allow
prosecutors to open formal investigations or parliamentarians
without requiring suspects first be stripped of their
immunity. Following the decision, the Office for Suppression
of Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) opened a formal
investigation against MP and former Defense and Interior
Minister Berislav Roncevic in a case dating back several
years for irregularities in a procurement of trucks at the
Ministry of Defense. The opposition Social Democrats (SDP) on
the committee, however, have accused Bajic of dragging his
feet on the investigation and moved to immediately strip
Roncevic of immunity based on submissions from USKOK. The
SDP motion failed on a 4-4 vote. All four of the ruling HDZ
party's committee members voted that it was premature to lift
Roncevic's immunity, and such a step would only be necessary
once indictments are filed. Prosecutors claimed to Poloff
that the decision was a tactical victory with broader
implications, because it makes it easier to conduct formal
investigations against individuals with immunity, including
judges, parliamentarians, and Croatian diplomats.
Prosecutors will now be able to investigate corruption
charges against high officials all the way up to the point
when they are ready to seek an indictment without having to
approach administrative or parliamentary committees and risk
leaks in often sensitive investigations. (CZimmer)

4. (U) CROATIAN SERB EXTRADICTED FROM UK TO STAND FOR WAR
CRIMES RETRIAL:
The UK extradited Milan Spanovic to Croatia on August 19. A
Croatian court found Spanovic guilty in absentia and
sentenced him to 20 years in prison for war crimes against
Croat civilians in the area around Glina in 1991. Spanovic,
a former member of Croatian Serb paramilitary units who was
arrested in Britain in October 2006, spent the past three
years fighting the extradition request. Since he was
originally tried in absentia, Spanovic will be able to seek a
new trial, one that is likely to draw international scrutiny
due to several additional pending extradition requests in EU
and other countries. (CZimmer)

5. (U) SCHOOLS ARE OUT, LIBRARIES ARE IN:
As a part of Embassy Zagreb's Library Outreach Program, APAO
Ken Wetzel, Summer Intern Katie Beall, and IRC Director Maca
Bahlen recently visited public libraries in the towns of Duga
Resa, Ogulin, Krapina and Krapinske Toplice. Since 2007, the
Public Affairs Section has visited 21 libraries under this
outreach program, which focuses on improving connections with
communities in less-developed and war-impacted regions of
Croatia. The visits include courtesy calls with local
politicians such as members of the city council or the

ZAGREB 00000509 002 OF 002


mayor's office and frequently generate local media coverage.
The Embassy also donates English language materials,
including Sabre Foundation books, encyclopedias, almanacs,
periodicals donated by the embassy community, information
about NATO, IIP publications and posters. The visits
frequently generate requests for embassy speakers, as well as
visits to the chancery under the embassy "inreach" program.
(KWetzel)
WALKER

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