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Cablegate: Serbia: Ambassador's First Meeting with President Tadic

VZCZCXRO1757
RR RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHBW #0019/01 0291750
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 291750Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0678
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 BELGRADE 000019

SIPDIS
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AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PASS TO AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/29
TAGS: PREL PGOV SR KV
SUBJECT: Serbia: Ambassador's First Meeting with President Tadic

CLASSIFIED BY: Mary Warlick, Ambassador, State, EXEC; REASON: 1.4(B),
(D)

Summary

-------


1. (C) In a January 28 meeting with Serbian President Tadic, the
Ambassador emphasized her desire to expand bilateral cooperation on
defense and economic issues, as well as to increase high-level
contacts between our governments. Tadic welcomed the intent but
expressed frustration that he had not been able to visit Washington
for over four years. Echoing comments made in his public remarks
during the Ambassador's credentialing ceremony (para. 12), Tadic
warned that U.S. policy toward Kosovo threatened democracy in
Serbia by strengthening the nationalist opposition. The Ambassador
reiterated U.S. support for Serbia's EU aspirations and urged
continued strong cooperation with the ICTY. Tadic expressed
appreciation for U.S. support on EU integration and explained that
Serbia was pursuing the remaining ICTY indictees because it was in
its own interest to do so. Similarly, as a Dayton guarantor Serbia
would continue to support the territorial integrity of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tadic said. He told the Ambassador that he
would work with Croatian President-elect Josipovic, an old
acquaintance, to address the many difficult issues dividing Serbia
and Croatia. On Kosovo, Tadic emphatically stated that Serbia
would not change its position on its own territorial integrity. He
expressed the desire to pursue a dialogue after the International
Court of Justice renders its advisory opinion, as the current
situation was untenable. The Ambassador responded that the
dialogue should begin now in order to find the best way to manage
reaction to the ICJ's opinion and move forward on the many pressing
issues related to Kosovo. End Summary.


2. (SBU) After presenting her credentials on January 28, the
Ambassador had a 45 minute working meeting with President Boris
Tadic. Tadic was accompanied by his foreign policy advisor Jovan
Ratkovic and MFA State Secretary Mirko Stefanovic.


Bilateral

---------


3. (C) The Ambassador told Tadic that she was eager to work with
him to build on the strong foundation created by her predecessors,
noting that Vice President Biden's May 2009 visit to Belgrade had
opened a new chapter in our bilateral relations. She said that the
military-to-military relationship was strong, but it was time to
take it to the next level through increased joint training and
exchanges, Serbian contributions to peacekeeping missions, and
participation in NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) activities. The
Ambassador also told Tadic that she would focus on expanding
economic and business ties, including new investments, and
supporting the completion of Serbia's WTO accession. She also
emphasized her commitment to seek opportunities for additional
high-level contacts between our governments. She noted President
Tadic's visit to UNGA last fall, the recent visits of Defense
Minister Sutanovac and Foreign Minister Jeremic to Washington, and
Interior Minister Dacic's meetings this week. The Ambassador
pointed to two upcoming congressional delegations to Serbia and the
February 10 groundbreaking for the New Embassy Compound (NEC) in
Belgrade as early opportunities to continue our engagement and
further highlight the relationship publicly.


4. (C) Tadic said he was pleasantly surprised to hear about the
scheduled groundbreaking event, as he had worked with four
different U.S. ambassadors going back to his tenure as Minister of
Defense to identify a suitable location for the new U.S. Embassy

BELGRADE 00000019 002 OF 005


and facilitate the sale. He commented that he was encouraged to
see countries such as the U.S. and China investing in modern
diplomatic facilities in Belgrade. He also stated that it was time
for the Serbian government to reconstruct its own buildings damaged
during the 1999 NATO intervention.


5. (C) Shifting topics abruptly, Tadic voiced a complaint that
despite all the talk of expanding the bilateral relations and the
strong ties between Serbia and the U.S., he himself had not visited
Washington in over four years. (Note: To our knowledge this is
the first time that Tadic has expressed an interest in doing so in
several years.) He commented that concrete results of high-level
engagement were lacking, and cautioned that U.S. policy toward the
Balkans, in particular on Kosovo, had implications for democracy in
Serbia. Recalling his own early involvement in the democracy
movement and the month he had spent in jail for his activism, Tadic
said that his government was committed to continued democratic
reform; it had to contend with a significant nationalist
opposition, however. The Ambassador reiterated the USG's
commitment, following on the Vice President's May 2009 visit, to
sustained bilateral engagement with Serbia on all issues, including
those areas where we do not agree. She offered to continue to
explore possibilities for high-level visits on both sides to keep
our bilateral channels open.


European Integration and ICTY Cooperation

-----------------------------------------


6. (C) The Ambassador recalled Vice President Biden's expression
of support for Serbia's European aspirations and congratulated
Tadic on his government's recent achievements with the EU,
including visa liberalization, implementation of the Interim Trade
Agreement, and submission of its membership application. The U.S.
saw the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union
as a key priority and remained prepared, working with the EU, to
support this process. She underscored the importance of continued
engagement with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) and U.S. readiness to support the hunt for Ratko
Mladic and Goran Hadzic.


7. (S) Tadic expressed appreciation for U.S. help with the EU
accession process. On ICTY cooperation, he explained that Serbia
was working intensively to capture Ratko Mladic "for our own
reasons," not due to pressure from the international community or
the ICTY, but to demonstrate its own resolve to capture war
criminals. He emphasized Serbia's commitment to reconciliation in
the region, pointing to its responsibilities as a guarantor of
Dayton. He also underscored Serbia's commitment to cooperation
with the U.S. on a range of threats, including organized crime,
corruption, terrorism, and narcotics, pointing to the success of
several recent joint counternarcotics operations. Tadic stated
that undertaking such sensitive operations was politically risky
and Serbia would continue to do the right thing; in return,
however, Serbia hoped for similarly strong bilateral engagement in
other areas and expected support from the U.S. on these efforts
with other countries in the region. The Ambassador expressed U.S.
appreciation for Serbia's strong cooperation in these important
areas and said she would be glad to discuss any areas of specific
concern.


Regional Cooperation

--------------------

BELGRADE 00000019 003 OF 005


8. (C) The Ambassador noted the important role that Serbia can and
needs to play on regional relations and stability, particularly
with regard to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. She conveyed
appreciation for the Serbian government's constructive support of
the Butmir process and urged Tadic to remain engaged with the
parties, including RS leader Milorad Dodik, in particular. She
expressed USG concern about the prospect of any referendum moving
forward in the Republika Srpska. Tadic said that Serbia believed
the preservation of BiH's territorial integrity was paramount; as a
guarantor of the Dayton Accords, Serbia sought a peaceful solution
on constitutional reform that would be consistent with Dayton
principles and preserve the model of two entities, three
constituent peoples. Tadic noted that he was seeking a
parliamentary resolution on Srebrenica to recognize the gravity of
the crimes committed there.


9. (C) With regard to Croatia, Tadic said that he had known
President-elect Ivo Josipovic for a long time and wanted to work
with him to address the many different open issues such as the
"huge problem" of refugees and property rights. He said he
expected the U.S. to support Serbian efforts to improve that
relationship and address the outstanding issues. Tadic told the
Ambassador that he would soon visit Albania and commented on the
enormous organized crime problem facing Montenegro, where he also
requested U.S. support. He emphasized that Serbia supported the
independence and territorial integrity of its neighbors in the
region, but many issues needed to be addressed.


10. (C) Turning to Kosovo, Tadic told the Ambassador "I must be as
clear as possible with you - Serbia will not change its views on
its territorial integrity. I want to be direct with you, as I have
with your other colleagues. After the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) issues its advisory opinion, we want to pursue
dialogue and find a way to address the issues related to Kosovo, as
the current situation is untenable." The Ambassador responded that
despite our clear differences, the U.S. and Serbia needed to keep
the channels of communication on Kosovo open. While the Vice
President had conveyed our agreement to disagree on Kosovo, it was
important for Serbia to focus on practical ways to improve the
lives of Serbs in Kosovo and on resolving outstanding issues. She
emphasized the need for Serbia to take a responsible and forward
looking approach after the ICJ opinion, consistent with President
Tadic's own forward looking approach toward European integration,
that would not do harm to stability in the region nor to the other
important work on our bilateral agenda. She recommended both sides
begin a dialogue now about how to manage the way forward and said
she hoped to continue discussions with Tadic's foreign policy
advisor, Jovan Ratkovic, on this subject as early as next week.


Comment

-------


11. (S) Comment: President Tadic made clear during the meeting
and in his public statement that he does not intend to back down on
Kosovo. At the same time, he demonstrated that he is open to
dialogue and told us what he wants: a warm reception in Washington
and continued high level engagement across the U.S. interagency,
cooperation on sensitive security issues, public support for
Serbia's efforts to improve regional relations, and sensitivity to
the domestic political constraints he faces on Kosovo policy. Now
is the opportune moment to lay out for Tadic and his key foreign
policy advisors what we expect of him, namely a constructive and
coordinated response to the ICJ's upcoming advisory opinion
accompanied by increased pragmatism in establishing a modus vivendi

BELGRADE 00000019 004 OF 005


with Kosovo, and continued forceful engagement with Milorad Dodik
to preserve stability in BiH. In the coming months, high-level
Washington engagement with Tadic will be essential to drive these
messages home. The other sine qua non is a strong, consistent
message from the European Union that continued antagonism and
inflexibility on Kosovo after the ICJ opinion will hamper Serbia's
progress toward membership. End Comment.


12. (U) Text of President Tadic's remarks (translation provided by
the Presidency):


ADDRESS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY MR. BORIS TADIC, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF
SERBIA, ON THE

OCCASSION OF THE PRESENT A TION OF THE LETTERS OF CREDENCE BY HER

EXCELLENCY MRS. MARY WARLICK, AMBASSADOR EXTRAORDINARY AND

PLENIPOTENTIARY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO

THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA


Belgrade, 28 January 2010


Excellency,

It is my great pleasure to receive the Letters by which the
Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
is accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
to the Republic of Serbia.


May I ask you, Excellency, to convey to President Obama my cordial
greetings and the assurances of my highest consideration.


The relationship with the United States of America is one of the
pillars of the foreign policy of the Republic of Serbia. Ever since
the times when the interests of our country in the United States of
America were represented by the diplomat and the well-known
scientist of Serbian origin Mihailo Pupin, the bilateral relations
between our two countries have been characterized by friendship and
alliance at all turning points in the world's history of the
twentieth century. Such relations and all-round cooperation were
damaged at the time of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Following
the democratic changed in Serbia, we have restored our close
cooperation which entered a new quality phase after the visit of
Vice-President Biden.


Today, Serbia is a truly democratic country. In the past ten years
of the democratic transition we have successfully implemented many
reforms guaranteeing the respect of human rights, minority rights,
media freedoms and free elections. We are very grateful for the
assistance by the United States of America in this democratization
process in Serbia.


We are particularly satisfied with the successful cooperation that
we established with the United States of America in combating
international terrorism and organized crime.

BELGRADE 00000019 005 OF 005


Excellency,

Large Serbian community in America has for centuries provided a
link between our two countries and contributed to the creation of
American society. Serbia is a sister state with the State of
Illinois and the main partner of the Army of Serbia is the National
Guard of Ohio.


We are particularly pleased with the fact that American companies
are among the biggest foreign investors in Serbia.


Madam Ambassador,

Becoming a full member of the European Union is the strategic goal
of the Republic of Serbia. We are convinced that the European Union
will not be complete until Serbia and other Western Balkan
countries are integrated into it. The support of the United States
of America in that regard is of exceptional importance.


Madam Ambassador,

Serbia will continue to defend its sovereignty and territorial
integrity in Kosovo by political and diplomatic means. We would
like 2010 to be the year of peaceful, compromise and realistic
solution of this issue, after the International Court of Justice
renders its advisory opinion. Despite different positions that we
have regarding the status of Kosovo, we hope that American policy
will respect legitimate Serbian interests and that it will not
jeopardize democracy in Serbia.


At the same time, Serbia is very much concerned about the plans of
Pristina to forcefully establish its rule over the majority-Serb
northern Kosovo. If this strategy were to be implemented it would
have unforeseen consequences for the stability of the region.


Excellency,

Serbia is strongly committed to strengthening the regional
cooperation and good-neighbourly relations. Without a stable,
democratic Serbia it is not possible to imagine the stable and
prosperous Western Balkans. Serbia respects the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, its internal
arrangements defined by the Dayton Accords as well as the European
and Euro-Atlantic integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Excellency,

You begin your mission at the very important time for the Republic
of Serbia but also for the further development of the relations
between our two countries. I wish you every success in the
discharge of your responsible duties. l am convinced that with your
knowledge and experience you will make an important contribution to
the development of the overall cooperation between our two
countries.
WARLICK

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