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Cablegate: Update No. 29 - Croatia Launches Pr Offensive

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

091844Z May 95

UNCLASSIFIED SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 01795

SIPDIS

USMISSION GENEVA
SECDEF WASHDC
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 001795

SIPDIS


VIENNA ALSO FOR BOSNIA; USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL CSCE
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
DEPT FOR A/S HOLBROOKE AND DS/OP/EUR

E.O. 12356: DECL: N/A
TAGS: PHUM MOPS PGOV MOPS PGOV MOPS PGOV HR
SUBJECT: UPDATE NO. 29 - CROATIA LAUNCHES PR OFFENSIVE
WITH BUS TOUR OF SECTOR WEST FOR DIP CORPS


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. ON MAY 8, EMBOFF VISITED THE SECTOR WEST TOWNS OF
JASENOVAC, OKUCANI, PAKRAC, AND A DETENTION CENTER IN
BJELOVAR WITH A GROUP OF ZAGREB BASED DIPLOMATS ORGANIZED
BY THE MFA. THE CONDITION OF THESE TOWNS IS AS DESCRIBED
IN OTHER REPORTING OF PREVIOUS EMBASSY TRIPS. THE SERBS
WE SPOKE WITH WERE CLEARLY DISTRESSED BY THE DILEMMA THEY
NOW FACE; WHETHER TO STAY IN CROATIA WHERE THEY FACE
POTENTIALLY BLEAK ECONOMIC PROSPECTS AND LIKELY
DISCRIMINATION, OR OPT FOR THE EVEN BLEAKER PROSPECTS AND
CONTINUING CONFLICT WHICH AWAIT THEM IN BOSNIA OR THE
REMAINING AREAS OF SERB-CONTROLLED CROATIA. END SUMMARY.
UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 01795 01 OF 03 091745Z

2. THE CROATIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ARRANGED A
VISIT TO SECTOR WEST FOR THE ZAGREB DIPLOMATIC CORPS ON
MONDAY, MAY 8, LED BY FOREIGN MINISTER MATE GRANIC. A
MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON EXPLAINED THAT THE POPULATION IN THE
SERB-HELD PORTION OF SECTOR WEST WAS ROUGHLY 43,000 PEOPLE
BEFORE THE 1991 WAR. OF THIS FIGURE, AROUT 25,000 WERE
SERBS, 16,000 CROATS, AND 2,000 "YUGOSLAVS." THE CROATS
HAD ALL FLED (14,000 ARE CURRENTLY REGISTERED IN ZAGREB).
OF THE SERB POPULATION, THE SPOKESPERSON CLAIMED THAT
15,000 STILL REMAINED IN THE SECTOR, WHILE 7,000 HAVE FLED
IN THE RECENT FIGHTING. (COMMENT: THE DIFFERENCE IS
PROBABLY ACCOUNTED FOR BY PEOPLE WHO EMIGRATED TO BOSNIA
OR SERBIA DURING THE INTERVENING THREE YEARS.)

-------------------------------------
JASENOVAC PRESERVED; OKUCANI DESERTED
-------------------------------------

3. THE VISIT BEGAN IN JASENOVAC, THE SITE OF THE WWII
CONCENTRATION CAMP. THE MONUMENT TO THOSE WHO HAD
PERISHED THERE OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO (MOSTLY SERBS)
REMAINED UNTOUCHED, AS DID THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH.
THE NEARBY CATHOLIC CHURCH, IN STARK CONTRAST, WAS BADLY
DAMAGED ALTHOUGH THE VAULTED ROOF REMAINED INTACT AND WE
WERE TOLD MASS WOULD BE CELEBRATED THERE THE FOLLOWING
DAY.

4. IN OKUCANI, THE MAJOR POPULATION CENTER IN THE SERB-
HELD PART OF THE SECTOR, THERE WERE SIGNS OF RECENT DAMAGE
TO THE HOUSING AND OTHER STRUCTURES IN THE CITY. MOST OF
UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 01795 01 OF 03 091745Z
THE HOUSES APPEARED DESERTED EXCEPT FOR STRAY CHICKENS AND
PIGS. THE GROUP VISITED THE ORTHODOX CHURCH, WHICH WAS
INTACT EXCEPT FOR SOME BROKEN WINDOWS. SILVER FRAMED
ICONS, BIBLES AND OTHER VALUABLE RELIGIOUS ARTICLES WERE
UNDISTURBED. IT APPEARED THAT THE PRIEST MIGHT HAVE FLED
WITHOUT TIME ENOUGH TO GO TO THE CHURCH AND COLLECT THOSE
THINGS MOST PRECIOUS TO HIM.

5. A NUMBER OF CROATIAN OFFICIALS MET US IN THE TOWN
CENTER. WE WERE TOLD THAT, OF A POPULATION OF 2,000 SERBS
BEFORE THE CROATIAN ACTION, ONLY A FEW HUNDRED REMAINED.
NUMEROUS GROUPS OF MUNICIPAL WORKERS IN BLUE COATS FROM
NEARBY TOWNS WERE ON THE SCENE TO HELP IN THE CLEAN-UP
EFFORT. ZAGREBACKA BANKA HAD OPENED A BRANCH OFFICE IN
THE CENTER OF THE TOWN. SIGNS HAD ALREADY BEEN POSTED AT
THE TOWN HALL FOR A NUMBER OF CROATIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICES
INCLUDING THE OFFICE FOR PENSIONS AND SOCIAL WELFARE AND
THE OFFICE FOR TAX COLLECTION.

6. THERE WERE SIGNS OF POSSIBLE LOOTING. PILES OF
CLOTHING COULD BE SEEN OUTSIDE SOME HOUSES, SUGGESTING
EITHER THAT LOOTING HAD TAKEN PLACE OR THAT OCCUPANTS HAD

UNCLASSIFIED


NNNNPTQ5777

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ5777

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 01795 02 OF 03 091828Z
ACTION EUR-01

INFO LOG-00 AID-00 AMAD-01 CIAE-00 SMEC-00 OASY-00 DOEE-00
DS-00 EB-01 FBIE-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-10
LAB-01 L-01 ADS-00 M-00 NSAE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01
PA-02 PM-00 PRS-01 P-01 SCT-00 SP-00 SR-00
SS-00 STR-01 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 SNIS-00 NISC-01
PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRME-01 PRMC-01 DRL-09 G-00 /036W
------------------C3CB8A 091829Z /38
P 091844Z MAY 95
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5704
INFO USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
HQ JTF PP NAPLES IT//CA/POLAD//
JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5-PMA/J21//
JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
USNMR SHAPE BE//POLAD//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ISP//
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ3/ECJ4/ECJ5//
HQUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE//J3/J4/J5//
CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK//N2/N22//
COM SIXTHFLT//N2//
NSC WASHDC
AMCONSUL MUNICH
USLO SKOPJE
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA
CINCUSAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE//DO/LG/XP/IN//
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
USMISSION USVIENNA
UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 01795 02 OF 03 091828Z
USMISSION GENEVA
SECDEF WASHDC
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 03 ZAGREB 001795

SIPDIS


VIENNA ALSO FOR BOSNIA; USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL CSCE
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
DEPT FOR A/S HOLBROOKE AND DS/OP/EUR

E.O. 12356: DECL: N/A
TAGS: PHUM MOPS PGOV MOPS PGOV MOPS PGOV HR
SUBJECT: UPDATE NO. 29 - CROATIA LAUNCHES PR OFFENSIVE
WITH BUS TOUR OF SECTOR WEST FOR DIP CORPS

DEPARTED HURRIEDLY (OR BOTH). HERE AND THERE WERE WAGONS
LOADED WITH AN ASSORTMENT OF WHAT APPEARED TO BE MOSTLY
PERISHABLE ITEMS. AS THE BUS DROVE BY A SMALL GROCERY
STORE, WE SAW CROATIAN MILITIA TAKING BOXES OUT AND
PUTTING THEM IN A PICKUP. THERE WERE NO CLEAR SIGNS,
HOWEVER, THAT LOOTING HAD BEEN SYSTEMATIC OR ON A WIDE
SCALE.

----------------------------
UNCERTAINTY REIGNS IN PAKRAC
----------------------------

7. THE FORMERLY SERB-CONTROLLED SIDE OF PAKRAC TOWNSHIP,
UNLIKE OKUCANI, IS A CONSIDERABLE DISTANCE FROM THE
BOSNIAN BORDER, AND PEOPLE HAD LITTLE OPPORTUNITY TO FLEE.
UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 01795 02 OF 03 091828Z
ROUGHLY 3,000 REMAINED IN AND AROUND THE TOWN. DAMAGE WAS
LIGHT. THE SERB MILITIA TRAPPED IN THIS AREA SURRENDERED
WITHOUT MUCH OF A FIGHT, ALTHOUGH THERE WERE REPORTS OF
ARMED SERBS STILL HOLED UP IN THE SURROUNDING HILLS.

---------------------
SOME INDIVIDUAL CASES
---------------------

8. WE WERE ABLE TO SPEAK PRIVATELY WITH THE (MOSTLY
FEMALE) SERBS WE ENCOUNTERED. NO ONE REPORTED ANY LOOTING
OR MISTREATMENT. THEY WERE CONCERNED FOR THEIR MEN, WHO
HAD BEEN TAKEN AWAY TO NEARBY BJELOVAR. THERE WAS ALSO
OBVIOUS CONCERN OVER WHAT THE FUTURE HELD IN STORE FOR
THEM. THE GOC HAD OPENED AN OFFICE THAT DAY TO REGISTER
THOSE WISHING TO APPLY FOR CROATIAN CITIZENSHIP AND
CLAIMED THAT 100 HAD ALREADY DONE SO. NEVERTHELESS, NO
ONE EMBOFF SPOKE TO HAD MADE A DECISION TO TAKE THAT STEP.
-
9. MANY HAD FLED TO THE AREA FROM THE CROATIAN CONTROLLED
PART OF THE SECTOR DURING THE 1991 WAR. AN ELDERLY WOMAN
FROM PAKRAC SAID THAT ALTHOUGH SHE HAD BEEN OFFERED THE
CHANCE TO RETURN NOW, SHE HAD NO INTENTION OF DOING SO
SINCE HER HOUSE HAD BEEN DESTROYED AND SHE HAD NOWHERE TO
LIVE. SHE INDICATED SHE WOULD LIKE TO GO TO BOSNIA IF
GIVEN THE CHANCE.

10. A YOUNG MAN WHO HAD FLED TO THE AREA FROM DARUVAR IN
1991 HAD BEEN ROUNDED UP WHEN THE CROATIAN FORCES ARRIVED
AND SENT TO BJELOVAR. HE HAD BEEN RELEASED THE NIGHT
BEFORE AS PART OF A GROUP OF 49 THAT HAD BEEN ALLOWED TO
UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 01795 02 OF 03 091828Z
RETURN. ALTHOUGH HE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONDITION OF
HIS HOME IN DARUVAR HE SAID HE HAD NO INTENTION OF
RETURNING THERE, WHERE HE FELT HE WOULD HAVE NO JOB
PROSPECTS AND VERY POSSIBLY FACE THE ILL WILL OF HIS
FORMER CROATIAN NEIGHBORS.

11. ANOTHER YOUNG MAN OF MILITARY AGE HAD ALSO RECENTLY
BEEN RELEASED FROM THE DETENTION CENTER IN NEARBY
BJELOVAR. HE WAS ORIGINALLY FROM PAKRAC. HIS MOTHER HAD
LEFT FOR BOSNIA THREE YEARS EARLIER. HE CANDIDLY
ACKNOWLEDGED THAT HE HAD BEEN ON ACTIVE MILITARY DUTY FOR
THE "RSK" MILITIA SINCE THAT TIME. HIS RECORD WAS
APPARENTLY NO IMPEDIMENT TO HIS RELEASE.

-------------------
"PLEASE RELEASE ME"
-------------------

12. THE DETEMTION CENTER IN BJELOVAR IS LOCATED IN A
SPORTS HALL. WE WERE TOLD THAT, TO DATE, THE CROATS HAD
DETAINED 1,475 SERBS IN VARIOUS SITES, OF WHOM 554 HAD
BEEN RELEASED, 105 WERE UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR WAR

UNCLASSIFIED


NNNNPTQ5779

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ5779

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 01795 03 OF 03 091829Z
ACTION EUR-01

INFO LOG-00 AID-00 AMAD-01 CIAE-00 SMEC-00 OASY-00 DOEE-00
DS-00 EB-01 FBIE-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-10
LAB-01 L-01 ADS-00 M-00 NSAE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01
PA-02 PM-00 PRS-01 P-01 SCT-00 SP-00 SR-00
SS-00 STR-01 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 SNIS-00 NISC-01
PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRME-01 PRMC-01 DRL-09 G-00 /036W
------------------C3CB92 091829Z /38
P 091844Z MAY 95
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5705
INFO USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
HQ JTF PP NAPLES IT//CA/POLAD//
JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5-PMA/J21//
JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
USNMR SHAPE BE//POLAD//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ISP//
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ3/ECJ4/ECJ5//
HQUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE//J3/J4/J5//
CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK//N2/N22//
COM SIXTHFLT//N2//
NSC WASHDC
AMCONSUL MUNICH
USLO SKOPJE
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA
CINCUSAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE//DO/LG/XP/IN//
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
USMISSION USVIENNA
UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 01795 03 OF 03 091829Z
USMISSION GENEVA
SECDEF WASHDC
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 03 OF 03 ZAGREB 001795

SIPDIS


VIENNA ALSO FOR BOSNIA; USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL CSCE
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
DEPT FOR A/S HOLBROOKE AND DS/OP/EUR

E.O. 12356: DECL: N/A
TAGS: PHUM MOPS PGOV MOPS PGOV MOPS PGOV HR
SUBJECT: UPDATE NO. 29 - CROATIA LAUNCHES PR OFFENSIVE
WITH BUS TOUR OF SECTOR WEST FOR DIP CORPS

CRIMES, AND 816 HAD YET TO BE QUESTIONED. IN BJELOVAR,
BEFORE OUR ARRIVAL, 187 HAD ALREADY BEEN RELEASED. THE
CENTER STILL CONTAINED 469 MEN, SOME OF WHOM WERE ELDERLY
BUT MOST LOOKED TO BE OF MILITARY AGE.

13. TO THE RADIO STRAINS OF TOM JONES SINGING "PLEASE
RELEASE ME," THE GROUP BROKE UP TO SPEAK PRIVATELY WITH
THE PRISONERS. NONE OF THE PRISONERS TO WHOM EMBOFF SPOKE
REPORTED ANY MISTREATMENT. ICRC HAD ALREADY VISITED AND
MANY HAD SENT MESSAGES TO THEIR LOVED ONES. EMBOFF SPOKE
TO A MAN FROM PAKRAC WHO HAD ALREADY BEEN INTERVIEWED BY
THE CROATS. IT WAS NOT CLEAR WHY HE WAS STILL IN BJELOVAR
WHEN SEVERAL OTHER MEN FROM PAKRAC HAD ALREADY BEEN
ALLOWED TO RETURN.

UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 01795 03 OF 03 091829Z
14. SEVERAL OF THE MEN WERE SERBS FROM BOSNIA OR SERBIA
WHO WERE PRESUMABLY IN THE "RSK" TO HELP DEFEND IT.
MINISTER GRANIC HAD PREVIOUSLY TOLD THE GROUP THAT A
NUMBER OF "WAR CRIMINALS" FROM SERBIA WERE AMO
NG THOSE
DETAINED, INCLUDING MEMBERS OF ARKAN'S "WHITE EAGLES." WE
WERE NOT ABLE TO CONFIRM WHETHER ANY INDIVIDUALS WERE
BEING HELD SEPARATELY FROM THE MAIN GROUP.

-------
COMMENT
-------

15. WHILE THIS MFA-ORGANIZED TOUR SERVED US LARGELY TO
CONFIRM IMPRESSIONS WE HAD OBTAINED IN THREE EARLIER
EMBASSY VISITS TO WESTERN SLAVONIA, IT WAS PROBABLY
VALUABLE FOR OTHERS IN THE DIP CORPS WHO WERE MAKING THEIR
FIRST TRIP. FROM THE GOC POINT OF VIEW, THIS FIRST EFFORT
TO GIVE FOREIGN MISSIONS A FIRST-HAND LOOK AT THE AREA
WILL DOUBTLESS PAY DIVIDENDS -- AS IT IS INTENDED TO -- IN
THE FORM OF REPORTS THAT WILL SERVE TO REASSURE MANY KEY
GOVERNMENTS THAT EARLY UN REPORTS OF ATROCITIES WERE
EXAGGERATED.

GALBRAITH


UNCLASSIFIED


NNNN

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