Cablegate: Osce Zagreb Head to Recommend Additional Year for Office

DE RUEHVB #0628/01 2931411
P 201411Z OCT 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Ambassador Foley paid an introductory call to
Ambassador Enrique Horcajada, head of the OSCE office in Zagreb, on
October 14. Based on this year's annual assessment (currently in
draft form) Horcajada indicated that he will ask for an extension of
the office's mandate. The recommendation for extension is based
largely on the office's desire to continue war crimes monitoring.
Horcajada will recommend that the office's mandate regarding housing
care be dropped or severely reduced. Horcajada suggested the
Croatian government is softening in its objections to an extension
of the office's mandate. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In his assessment of the current situation regarding war
crimes trials, Horcajada said that Croatia had come far,
particularly with the Justice Minister's admissions in December 2008
that judges erred in many cases in the 1990s and that they needed to
revise a large number of cases. The Ministry's action plan on the
review of more than one hundred in absentia verdicts from the 1990s
expired in June 2009, he said, but there is still substantial work
to be done and the cases are working their way through the
prosecutors' offices and courts. While the progress in these cases
is positive, they are not yet finalized and he wants the OSCE to
remain to monitor these cases in 2010. (NOTE: In a separate meeting
with visiting War Crimes Envoy Rapp, Horcajada even suggested the
office could possibly last into 2011. End Note.) The OSCE's war
crimes expert, Romana Schweiger, also noted that the Ministry of
Justice (MOJ) recently committed to review amnesty decisions from
the 1990s, which mostly cleared Croatians of any war crimes, and are
the counterpoint to the in absentia verdicts largely targeting
Serbs. The reviews are progressing slowly, she said, although there
is momentum to address these issues.

3. (SBU) Horcajada also noted the commitment of the Minister of
Justice to resolve the approximately 600 cases in which perpetrators
are unknown. (NOTE: The police and prosecutors' offices are
responsible for investigating and bringing charges in war crimes
cases and are not under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice.
The police in local jurisdictions may be reluctant to investigate,
especially in cases where perpetrators might be in or linked to the
police or local governments. The Chief State Prosecutor, however,
has told Poloff that he is also committed to resolving these
lingering cases. END NOTE.) Horcajada explained that the
investigation and prosecution of unresolved cases could take years
and indicated that an OSCE presence could be necessary until they
see that the process is sustainable. Schweiger acknowledged this
caseload would have to be prioritized.

4. (SBU) Ambassador Foley remarked that while the US recognizes the
merit of continuing the office's work for one more year, this was a
nuanced position and we would not support an expansion of the
office's work as a bridge to indefinite extension. Ambassador Foley
stated that the project to reopen the cases had great merit, but
also remarked that Minister of Justice Simonovic had expressed
confidence in the ability of Croatia to complete the task.
Horcajada admitted that realistically it is unlikely the OSCE office
would remain once Croatia entered the EU.

5. (SBU) In his assessment of the current situation regarding
housing care, Horcajada said that approximately 1,500 units will
remain to be delivered through 2010. He said that although Croatia
is behind on its benchmarks, the office believes the current program
is sustainable and that the trend is positive overall. He will
recommend that further monitoring by the OSCE office is no longer
necessary and suggest the housing care mandate be ended. If the
housing care mandate continues for another year he will suggest a
reduction of staff to three persons to monitor the final delivery of
units in the agreed benchmarks.

6. (SBU) Horcajada said that while the Croatian Government initially
seemed very resistant to the idea of an additional extension of the
office, he has seen a recent softening in its position, particularly
from Minister of Foreign Affairs Jandrokovic. He remarked that the
person most resistant to the continuation is the Croatian Ambassador
to the OSCE, Neven Madey. Horcajada laid out three possible
scenarios regarding the extension of the office. The first scenario
would be a routine extension with no change in mandate. The second
scenario would be an extension but with a stipulated end date. The
third scenario would be an extension but with an unwritten
understanding that it would be the last extension. This last
scenario would require a declaration of understanding among
participating states. Horcajada said that Ambassador Madey found
options one and three unacceptable and desired option two.
Horcajada explained that option two is unlikely, as it would set a
bad precedent for other nations with OSCE offices to set arbitrary
dates for closure instead of basing closure decisions solely on
mandate fulfillment. (NOTE: Option two is the course of action
Croatia tried to pursue last December, but their efforts failed.
The compromise was an awkwardly worded mandate extension that
alluded to Croatia's progress. It seems unlikely a similar attempt
for a stipulated end date would succeed this year either. END

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Ambassador Horcajada's allusions to an extension

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past 2010 of the OSCE office in Zagreb, to address both legacy and
new issues related to war crimes, reinforces the need for OSCE
member states to reach agreement about what a final "end state" for
the office would entail. Failure at this point to define clearly
what remains for Croatia to do invites certain member states to
continually move the goalposts. The key benchmark should be whether
Croatia has adequate institutions and systems in place to handle the
issues remaining, rather than have a permanent presence here until
all cases are handled or refugees returned. END COMMENT


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