Cablegate: Zagreb Daily Report - February 1, 2010

DE RUEHVB #0069 0321200
P 011200Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Zagreb Daily Report - February 1, 2010

1. (U) Former Defense Minister's Trial on Military Truck Procurement
Case Begins at the Zagreb County Court:
On Friday, January 29, the trial of former Defense Minister Berislav
Roncevic, and former MoD State Secretary Ivo Bacic began in Zagreb.
Roncevic and Bacic, who are charged with the illegal purchase of 39
trucks from the Eurokamion import company, pleaded not guilty. The
defendants' defense attorneys claimed that the competing MAN trucks,
with a bid that would have been HRK 10.2 million (approximately USD
2m) cheaper, did not meet the required technical specifications.
The state prosecutors argued that the MAN trucks had been tested by
the Defense Ministry and fulfilled all the necessary technical
requirements. The trial continues this week.

2. (U) PM Kosor Remains Popular; Her Party Trails Opposition:
For the first time in nearly 6 years, a majority of those polled (51
per cent of Croatian respondents) in the PULS agency's monthly
political poll approved of the Government's performance. Less
encouraging for Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, however, was that her
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, the largest party of the
ruling coalition, received the support of 27.6 percent of those
polled, while the main opposition, the Social Democratic Party
(SDP), tops the ranking with 34-percent support. The Croatian
People's Party (HNS), a liberal opposition party, is the third most
popular party with eight per cent support. Departing President
Stjepan Mesic regained the position as the most popular politician
in Croatia, followed by his successor - Croatia's president-elect,
Ivo Josipovic. PM Kosor is the third most popular politician in the
country and SDP's leader Zoran Milanovic is fourth.

3. (U) New Chairman for Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee:
The Croatian Parliament has relieved Mario Zubovic (HDZ) of his
duties as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and chosen
Frano Matusic, also from the HDZ and an MP from Dubrovnik, as the
new chairman. The motion to unseat Zubovic came from the HDZ
Caucus, and was clearly linked to the role he has played in the past
few months as one of former PM Ivo Sanader's most loyal allies in
the Sabor. Zubovic has also been stripped of his partisan duties as
the HDZ's political secretary and deputy whip. Matusic, the new
committee chair, was a participant in a May 2004 International
Visitors program for new parliamentarians.


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