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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03ZAGREB1393 2003-06-18 07:43:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

CROATIAN OFFICIALS CONDEMN THE RIOT IN BELGRADE

Tags:   PREL PGOV PHUM HR 
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					  UNCLAS ZAGREB 001393 

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM HR
SUBJECT: CROATIAN OFFICIALS CONDEMN THE RIOT IN BELGRADE

REF: BELGRADE 1420



1. FOLLOWING THE JUNE 15 ATTACK ON THE CROATIAN EMBASSY IN
BELGRADE BY A LARGE GROUP OF SPORTS HOOLIGANS (REFTEL) --
WHICH CAME AFTER SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO DEFEATED CROATIA IN
THE WATER-POLO FINALS OF THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS IN
KRANJ, SLOVENIA -- CROATIA'S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP PUT OUT
STRONG STATEMENTS OF CONDEMNATION. PRIME MINISTER RACAN
REGRETTED THAT THE VANDALISM IN BELGRADE HAD NOT
IMMEDIATELY BEEN CONDEMNED AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS IN
BELGRADE. "WE ALL KNOW HOW THE LACK OF PROMPT REACTION TO
THIS TYPE OF PRIMITIVISM LED TO THE EVIL THAT OCCURRED IN
OUR RECENT PAST," RACAN SAID IN A TELEVISED STATEMENT. THE
PM ALSO CRITICIZED CROATIAN HOOLIGANS AT THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
WHO ATTACKED SUPPORTERS OF THE SAM TEAM. HE ANNOUNCED THAT
HE WOULD PUSH FOR A LAW ON SPORTS FANS TO BE PREPARED ON AN
URGENT BASIS.



2. FOR HIS PART, FOREIGN MINISTER TONINO PICULA CANCELED
HIS TRIP TO MONTENEGRO SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 16 AND 17.
PICULA CALLED THE INCIDENTS THE WORST SINCE THE TWO
COUNTRIES ESTABLISHED DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS IN 1997, BUT HE
ALSO EXPRESSED HOPE THAT THE TENSIONS WOULD SUBSIDE SOON.
THE SAM AMBASSADOR TO ZAGREB, MILAN SIMURDIC, WHO WAS ON
HAND FOR THE FINALS IN SLOVENIA, TOLD US JUNE 17 HE HOPED
THE MATTER WAS OVER. HE HAD BEEN CALLED IN TO THE MFA AT
12:30 AM AFTER THE ATTACK ON THE EMBASSY BUILDING IN
BELGRADE. HE SAID HE REGRETTED THAT PICULA FELT A NEED TO
CANCEL HIS TRIP TO PODGORICA. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
HAD HE TRAVELED, AND EVEN PERHAPS STOPPED OVER IN BELGRADE
ON HIS WAY BACK.



3. DEPLORING THE INCIDENT IN BELGRADE, AS WELL AS THE ONE
IN SLOVENIA WHICH PROMPTED IT, PRESIDENT MESIC SAID THAT
BLAME CAN USUALLY BE SHARED. "ONE EVENT CAUSES THE OTHER."
HE ADDED, HOWEVER, THAT "ORGANIZERS ARE ALSO TO BLAME SINCE
THEY KNEW THIS WAS A HIGH-RISK GAME BUT FAILED TO TAKE
APPROPRIATE (SECURITY) MEASURES."

COMMENT


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





4. THE LATEST INCIDENTS, INVOLVING SPORTS HOOLIGANS ON
BOTH THE SERBIAN AND CROATIAN SIDES, ARE NOT LIKELY TO
AFFECT SERIOUSLY THE TREND IN THE OVERALL BILATERAL
RELATIONSHIP. RELATIONS BETWEEN AUTHORITIES IN ZAGREB AND
BELGRADE ARE GENERALLY PROGRESSING -- TO WIT, THE RECENT
DECISION BY EACH GOVERNMENT TO DO AWAY WITH, AT LEAST
TEMPORARILY, VISA REQUIREMENTS. THE INCIDENTS, HOWEVER, DO
SHOW THAT UNDER THE POLITICAL SURFACE WARTIME ANIMOSITIES
REMAIN, AND WILL HAVE TO BE MANAGED AS THE PROCESS OF
NORMALIZATION UNFOLDS.
MOON

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