Cablegate: Zagreb Daily Report - December 17, 2009

DE RUEHVB #0737 3511204
P 171204Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Zagreb Daily Report - December 17, 2009

1. (SBU) ICTY reviews Croatia's cooperation: A Croatian delegation,
led by Ministry of Justice Director General Gordan Markotic and
members of the GoC task force investigating the missing artillery
documents in the Gotovina case, appeared before the ICTY trial
chamber on December 16 for a hearing. The hearing was on the status
of the ICTY prosecutor's request, which reportedly originally
covered some 158 documents. After considerable time trying to go
through the list of documents, Presiding Judge Alphonse Orie
requested that the parties meet outside of a formal court session
(but with one or more judges present) to continue going through the
list. A key focus will presumably be the list of 23 key documents at
the center of the GoC investigation. At the conclusion of the
hearing, Judge Orie said he does not expect to issue a decision on
Croatia's compliance with the court order until after the holiday
recess. ICTY's Zagreb representative told us he was pleased with
the outcome of the December 16 proceedings. He added that he was
hopeful that, in the end, Brammertz would come to the view that the
Croatians are acting in good faith and are doing their best to find
the documents.

2.(U) Russian Ambassador discusses South Stream with President
Mesic: On December16, following up on his Dec. 14-15 visit to
Moscow, President Mesic met in Zagreb with the Russian Ambassador to
Croatia, Robert Markaryan. According to a statement from Mesic's
office, Ambassador Markaryan noted that due to Croatia's hesitation
about the project, the South Stream gas pipeline would not go
through Croatia. However, Croatia could have an interconnector to
the pipeline through either Serbia or Hungary. This proposal would
be on the agenda for discussion during PM Kosor's expected visit to
Moscow sometime in the first few months of 2010.

3. (U) Croatian Government delays purchase of INA natural gas
division from Hungarian MOL: The Government of Croatia (GoC) on
December 16 signed an agreement with Hungary's MOL, the biggest
shareholder in Croatia's largest oil and gas company, INA, delaying
for one-year, to December 2010, the planned purchase by the GoC of
INA's natural gas division. (Note: Part of the package when MOL
recently increased its stake in INA was that the GoC would take on
INA's gas division and the massive losses caused by a domestic gas
pricing structure that forces INA to sell imported gas to Croatian
customers below market value.) The delay of the nationalization of
the natural gas division means that MOL-INA will be obliged to
supply its customers with gas for one more year; however, INA was
also given permission from the GoC to raise gas prices 13.6%. In a
statement, PM Kosor told the press on Wednesday that the GoC was
postponing the gas company purchase because of budgetary pressures.

4. (U) Ambassador Foley Addresses Young Professionals at Croatia's
UN Academy: Ambassador Foley was the featured speaker on a Dec. 16
panel at the closing session of the UN Academy, an intensive
nine-week international affairs program of study for young
professionals organized by the Croatian UN Association. Ambassador
Foley spoke about the U.S. perspective on the UN Security Council,
UN Peacekeeping Operations and the nexus between the UN and NATO in
Afghanistan. The Embassy financially supported the UN Academy,
which organized weekly lectures by foreign policy practitioners.
The closing session was covered by the Croatian Press Agency (HINA)
and national daily, Vjesnik.

5. (U) The two lead planners of Exercise JACKAL STONE '09 return to
Croatia: JACKAL STONE planners from U.S. Special Operations Command
Europe (SOCEUR) returned to Croatia this week, and on Dec. 16
provided the Ministry of Defense with an appraisal of Croatian
performance during the ten-nation, month-long, Special Operations
exercise last August and September. The remarks were well received
by Croatia's Deputy CHOD and his staff and sparked a number of
substantive discussions on how Croatian forces can advance their
integration into NATO activities.

6.(U) Multi-national training event proposed for 2010: On Dec. 14,
the Embassy and the Croatian Air Force sponsored a meeting on the
Pleso Airbase near Zagreb to explore the potential for conducting a
multi-national training event in Spring 2010 lead by US Special
Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) with Croatia and Hungary. This
training event will give each country a significant night flying
capability that is currently either limited or does not exist. The
lack of pilots trained in night vision assisted flight has hampered
the otherwise great success of Croatia's helicopter deployment to
KFOR in Kosovo. Hungary, for its part, is seeking this training in
preparation for their deployment of helicopters to ISAF as part of a
proposed multi-national helicopter squadron. This event would be
part of SOCEUR and the US Special Operations Command's (SOCOM)
efforts working together in providing technical support to NATO
Allies who are developing or improving aviation capabilities that
could support special operations.


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