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Cablegate: The Art of Editing: Croatian Television Fails

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

UNCLAS ZAGREB 004592

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE AND PA
USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE
USIA FOR EEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: HR BK SR PREL PHUM
SUBJECT: THE ART OF EDITING: CROATIAN TELEVISION FAILS
TO MENTION AMBASSADOR'S CRITICISM OF BLASKIC PROMOTION

SUMMARY
-------
UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 04592 161635Z

1. ALTHOUGH THE WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL'S INDICTMENT OF SIX
BOSNIAN CROATS WAS NOT BIG NEWS IN THIS COUNTRY, THE
NAMING OF ONE OF THEM, TIHOMIR BLASKIC, THE NEXT DAY TO
A HIGH POSITION IN THE CROATIAN ARMY WAS. BY DAY THREE,
HOWEVER, THE CROATIAN MEDIA -- THANKS, NO DOUBT, TO THE
HIDDEN HAND OF POLITICAL CONTROL EXERCISED OVER IT --
LOST INTEREST IN THE STORY. IN FACT, CROATIAN
TELEVISION, TO WHOM PRESIDENT TUDJMAN FIRST FAXED WORD
OF BLASKIC'S NOMINATION, FAILED EVEN TO MENTION THAT
AMBASSADOR GAILBRAITH HAD PUBLICLY CRITICIZED THIS MOVE,
ALTHOUGH THEIR CAMERAS WERE PRESENT AND THEY REPORTED
EXTENSIVELY ON OTHER REMARKS HE MADE AT THE SAME TIME.

DEMONSTRABLY OUTSPOKEN
----------------------
2. ON NOVEMBER 15, AS THEY DO MOST DAYS, THE "MOTHERS
OF VUKOVAR" GATHERED IN THE PARK ACROSS THE STREET FROM
THE EMBASSY BETWEEN NOON AND ONE O'CLOCK. DRESSED IN
BLACK, THEY STAND BEHIND PICTURES OF THEIR SONS, WHO
HAVE BEEN BEEN MISSING SINCE 1991. SOME HOLD PLACARDS
ALOFT, REMINDING THOSE IN DAYTON NOT TO FORGET THE
MISSING IN VUKOVAR.

3. ON NOVEMBER 15, AS HE DOES MOST DAYS, AMBASSADOR
GALBRAITH STROLLED OVER TO TALK TO THE THEM. THIS TIME,
UNLIKE MOST DAYS, IN ADDITION TO THE DEMONSTRATORS AND
THE USUAL KNOT OF CURIOUS ONLOOKERS A LARGE GROUP OF
REPORTERS, FROM BOTH THE DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN MEDIA, HAD
GATHERED. THEY PEPPERED THE AMBASSADOR WITH QUESTIONS
ABOUT THE ISSUE OF THE DAY -- THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S
UNCLASSIFIED


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PAGE 03 ZAGREB 04592 161635Z
REACTION TO BLASKIC'S NEW POSITION. AMBASSADOR
GALBRAITH REPLIED BY REITERATING THE LONG-STANDING
AMERICAN POSITION -- THAT (TO QUOTE THE CROATIAN NEWS
AGENCY ACCOUNT) THE "CROATIAN GOVERNMENT HAS STATED THAT
IT WILL COOPERATE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL FOR
WAR CRIMES COMMITTED IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. WE EXPECT
THAT IT WILL DO SO." THE CROATIAN NEWS AGENCY'S SHORT
REPORT ALSO QUOTED THE AMBASSADOR AS SAYING: "BLASKIC
AND KORDIC WERE INDICTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL WAR CRIMES
TRIBUNAL, AND ALL COUNTRIES IN THE REGION, IN THIS CASE
CROATIA AND BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA, HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO
ARREST AND EXTRADITE THEM. . . . COOPERATION WITH THE
WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL WILL BE ONE OF THE ELEMENTS THAT
WILL DETERMINE OUR RELATIONS WITH THE STATES OF THIS
REGION."

NOT THE TOP OF THE NEWS
-----------------------
4. MOST NATIONAL DAILIES CARRIED THIS REPORT, THOUGH
THEY HARDLY PLAYED IT PROMINENTLY. IT TENDED TO BE A
VERY SHORT SIDE BAR TO A LARGER STORY ON THE
AMBASSADOR'S REMARKS TO THE MOTHERS OF VUKOVAR.
CROATIAN TELEVISION, HOWEVER, TOOK THIS TO ITS LOGICAL
EXTREME. ALTHOUGH IT SHOWED A PICTURE OF THE AMBASSADOR
ACTUALLY MAKING HIS STATEMENTS ABOUT BLASKIC AND KORDIC
ON THE MAIN EVENING NEWS, THE REPORTER'S VOICE-OVER
MENTIONED NOT ONE WORD ABOUT THIS PART OF HIS REMARKS,
BUT INSTEAD DEVOTED SEVERAL MINUTES TO AN ACCOUNT OF THE
STATEMENTS THE AMBASSADOR MADE TO THE MOTHERS ABOUT THE
NEED TO ACCOUNT FOR THE MISSING.

UNCLASSIFIED


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 04592 161635Z
5. THIS INTERESTING EXERCISE IN NEWS JUDGMENT WAS
ESPECIALLY IRONIC BECAUSE CROATIAN TELEVISION WAS THE
FIRST IN THIS COUNTRY TO RECEIVE THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF
BLASKIC'S NEW POSITION, BEFORE EVEN THE PRESIDENCY
ITSELF. THE ANNOUNCEMENT, WHICH WAS PICTURED ON THE
NEWS ON THE EVENING OF NOVEMBER 13, HAD BEEN FAXED
DIRECTLY FROM DAYTON; APPARENTLY DONE ON AN AMERICAN
WORD-PROCESSOR, THE NECESSARY CROATIAN DIACRITICAL
MARKINGS HAD BEEN PENCILLED IN BY HAND. SOMEONE HAD
OVIOUSLY CHOSEN TO SACRIFICE GOOD FORM FOR GRE
AT SPEED.

6. SARAJEVO MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.

FINN


UNCLASSIFIED


NNNN

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