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03ZAGREB1719 2003-07-31 15:34:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L  ZAGREB 001719 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2013


Classified By: PolOff Darren Taylor for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d)


1. (C) The Government of Croatia is frustrated with the
leadership of the International Trust Fund and will block
extension ITF director Jernej Cimpersek's mandate. GoC
officials expressed their frustration with Cimpersek's lack
of professionalism and his unwillingness to focus on all
donor priorities which, they claim, has led to a
"polarization" of the demining community in the Balkans.
They acknowledged that Cimpersek has been difficult to work
with, but rejected the allegation that their decision was
based on personality conflict. The GoC asserted that their
decision is firm; as an extension can be passed only by
consensus of the managing board, it appears Cimpersek's days
as Director are numbered. GoC officials said they would
prepare a position paper for the ITF managing board and key
donors outlining reasons for their position. End Summary.

GOC: "It's Time For A Change at the ITF"


2. (C) On July 28, we met with senior GOC officials involved
in the work of the International Trust Fund (ITF). Present
were Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Davorko Vidovic,
MFA Advisor for Demining Dijana Plestina, and Croatian Mine
Action Center (CROMAC) Director Oto Jungwirth. Plestina --
who is PM Racan's wife -- described Croatia's building
frustration with ITF Director Cimpersek. She said the ITF
managing board reacted strongly to Croatia's announcement at
the July 22 board meeting at which it blocked extension of
Cimpersek's mandate, but insisted that Croatia's decision is
firm. Labor Minister Vidovic said that the position Plestina
presented was the view of the GoC, and that the decision to
block Cimpersek's extension had been taken in advance of the
July 22 meeting. The decision was final and would not be
reversed under any circumstances, asserted Minister Vidovic.

3. (C) Vidovic said that there have been a series of
incidents over the past year in which Cimpersek and his
deputy Goran Gacnik had acted inappropriately, both in public
and at regional fora on humanitarian demining. It seemed at
times that their goal was to embarrass GOC officials present
at the meetings or Croatia in general. He stated that while
the GOC was not completely innocent of responsibility for the
strained relationship, GOC officials were always willing to
sit at the table to discuss ways to find solutions.

4. (C) Vidovic explained that as the third largest donor to
the ITF behind the US and EU, the GoC recognizes its
responsibility to support the ITF's role in the region. The
ITF has contributed to important positive developments in
demining in the region, but the current leadership of the ITF
seems to have lost sight of the fact that it is the donors,
not the ITF staff, which are most responsible for these
successes. Vidovic said he had instructed key personnel to
draft a position paper outlining the GOC's position
concerning the ITF leadership, a copy of which will be
provided to ITF managing board members and key donors. He
had also alerted FM Picula about this issue to prepare him
for possible engagement.

5. (C) Plestina and Jungwirth stated that most of their
concerns centered on issues of professionalism, regional
ethnic biases, and the polarization of the demining community
in the region. They claimed they made repeated efforts to
improve their working relationship with the ITF, but
Cimpersek seemed to prefer to distance himself from Croatia
and engage as little as possible on Croatian matters. When
he did engage, it was often in a rude, uncooperative, or
unprofessional manner. During bilateral meetings, the ITF
director would launch into tirades about what the ITF was or
was not willing do in Croatia, and how Croats are his biggest
problem in the region. Plestina claimed other
representatives from regional mine action centers had lodged
similar complaints.

USG Intervention Appreciated, But Unsuccessful



6. (C) Vidovic and Plestina expressed appreciation for USG
efforts to improve the relationship with Cimpersek,
especially PM Assistant Secretary Bloomfield's personal
involvement during a GOC-sponsored conference on demining in
Dubrovnik in October 2002. They noted that even in the
presence of senior USG officials, the ITF director displayed
unprofessional behavior and used unacceptable language at

times when contentious issues were discussed.

7. (C) Plestina claimed that although they had low
expectations, the GoC had made efforts to improve the working
relationship after the meeting in Dubrovnik, if for no other
reason than they had been asked to do so by the USG. But
Cimpersek showed signs that he was unwilling to take steps to
improve the relationship. He did not attend meetings that
were held in Croatia and refused to travel to Croatia for
some time. He has been unwilling to meet with GOC leaders to
discuss ways of improving cooperation or to solicit GOC views
about developments at the ITF.



8. (C) The GoC decision to block Cimpersek's extension does
not come as a surprise; Plestina and CROMAC have complained
to us many times in the past, and we have been present at
meetings when Cimpersek has acted inappropriately. The
presence of Labor Minister Vidovic at the July 28 meeting was
clearly intended to ensure that we understood that the GoC
decision is a formal cabinet position and not just a
reflection of a personality conflict between the ITF director
and the PM's wife. Vidovic has in the past told us that he
does not want the disagreement over the leadership of the ITF
to become an irritant, but wants to make sure we understand
that the GoC position is final.

9. (C) We concur with the GoC that it is time for Cimpersek
to go and suggest that the managing board should seek a new,
more professional director who is committed to working
closely with governments in the region and with the main
donors, both in the field and in donor capitals.