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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03ZAGREB2200 2003-10-10 13:59:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

CROATIAN ELECTIONS PUT OUR BILATERAL ISSUES ON HOLD

Tags:   PREL PGOV PHSA PBTS HR NATO 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L  ZAGREB 002200 

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE - NARDI/KABUMOTO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHSA PBTS HR NATO
SUBJECT: CROATIAN ELECTIONS PUT OUR BILATERAL ISSUES ON HOLD

REF: ZAGREB 2033

Classified By: Poloff Justin Friedman, reasons 1.5 (b) & (d)

Summary
-------



1. (C) With the parliamentary campaign heating up, some
bilateral issues have been put on hold until they can be
addressed without political interference. In separate
meetings, Presidential Foreign Policy Affairs Advisor Ivica
Mastruko and MFA Asstant Minister for Non-European Affairs
Drazen Margeta told the DCM that plans to discuss an ICC
non-surrender agreement and a deployment of Croatian troops
to Iraq will have to wait for the next government. Mastruko
criticized the Sabor's declaration of an economic and fishing
zone in the Adriatic as a purely political move aimed at
swaying voters in the upcoming elections. Margeta said
movement on IPR issues would also have to wait until after
the new parliament settles in. End Summary.

Article 98


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





2. (C) In separate meetings to discuss ongoing U.S. concerns
about doing business with Libya (septel), DCM express
continued U.S. interest in pursuing an Article 98 agreement
with Croatia with Presidential Foreign Policy Affairs Advisor
Ivica Mastruko on October 6 and MFA Asstant Minister for
Non-European Affairs Drazen Margeta on October 7. Mastruko,
who attended the meeting between President Mesic and A/S
Rademaker on September 23 in NY, said that President Mesic
felt Croatia could not sign an Article 98 agreement until
ICTY indictments of Croatian citizens had been satisfactorily
resolved. Mastruko believed that this could be achieved by
the end of this year, although he noted that the ICTY
gameplan cited the end of 2004 as the deadline for issuing
all indictments. When the DCM noted that the Croatian
Government had also cited EU restrictions as preventing the
conclusion of an Article 98 agreement, Mastruko said that the
president,s position on this issue was &autonomous8 from
that of the Government. He suggested that Mesic did not have
a position regarding EU restrictions.



3. (C) Assistant Minister Margeta reiterated the GoC's
interest in finding a mutually agreeable formulation on
extradition that would include Article 98-like provisions.
DCM welcomed Croatian engagement on the issue, but said that
the proposed framework would not satisfy U.S. needs. He
noted that 66 countries had signed Article 98 agreements,
including Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania and Romania. Margeta
responded that Croatia was different from its neighbors, and
the GoC felt itself under considerable public pressure due to
the extradition requirements of the ICTY. Nevertheless,
Margeta said the GoC would continue to pursue the matter to
find a solution acceptable to both sides.



4. (C) DCM said that the standard NATO Status of Forces
Agreement addendum that Post had given the GoC in September
for review contained language similar to Article 98 without
mentioning the Article specifically. GoC agreement to this
standard language would be welcomed as another positive step.
Margeta said the GoC wanted to get military-to-military
cooperation back on track and asked if this SOFA agreement
would be enough to secure a waiver of current sanctions under
the American Serviceman's Protection Act (ASPA). DCM
responded that while no decisions had been made, Croatia
would have to build a stronger case for possible waiver. The
GoC had taken some positive steps including its contribution
of troops for Afghanistan and its assistance on the
successful U.S. Navy ship visit to the BiH port of Neum. The
GoC's backing away from an Iraq troop contribution was a
negative that would need to be overcome.

Troops to Iraq


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





5. (C) In pointing to President Mesic,s statements that
Croatia should not send a military contingent to Iraq without
a new UNSCR, DCM pointed out to both interlocutors that a new
draft resolution was being negotiated in NY and should be
available soon. In any event, the government in its June 12
&determination8 that it would commit troops to Iraq had
cited in a diplomatic note to the U.S. Embassy cited UNSCR
1483 as sufficient grounds. Presidential Advisor Mastruko
was obviously unaware of the diplomatic note, but made clear
that the government,s position had changed (reftel).
Mastruko and Margeta both confirmed that once a new UNSCR had
been approved, the government would move ahead to gain Sabor
approval for the deployment.


6. (C) Assistant Minister Margeta agreed with DCM's point
that the Iraq mission would not be a typical UN peacekeeping
operation, but more like SFOR or KFOR. Margeta said that

Croatian forces were continuing to train for this mission and
were ready to go once a decision had been made. He commented
that the GoC wanted to improve bilateral relations, and hoped
that a UN resolution would facilitate the positive step of a
GoC troop contribution for Iraq.

Declaration of Fish and Ecology Zone


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





6. (C) Mastruko lamented the Sabor,s decision last Friday to
declare a fishing and ecology zone in the Adriatic over the
expressed reservations of the EU, Slovenia and Italy. He
predicted that this decision, which was taken solely to
please the public in advance of the November elections, would
cause Croatia substantial problems with the EU,
"perhaps bigger than Govotina." Mastruko (HNS) sharply
criticized Sabor leader and HSS party leader Tomcic for
pushing this proposal through the Sabor. Mastruko said it
was the wrong decision taken for the wrong reasons.



7. (C) Margeta observed that the reactions of the EC, Italy
and Slovenia to the declaration were not as hard as had been
expected. He emphasized that Croatia had a legal right to
make this move, which was motivated primarily over concerns
for the environment and the fishing economy in the Adriatic.
He expected that the next important signal would come when
Prime Minister Racan delivered Croatia's answers to the EU
questionnaire the following Thursday (10/9) in Brussels. He
said the GoC would focus diplomatic efforts for the next year
on explaining the need for this move, emphasizing in
bilateral discussions with Italy and Slovenia the possibility
of "polishing" the declaration.

ICTY


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





8. (C) Mastruko, who left the meeting with the DCM to join
President Mesic for his meeting with ICTY Prosecutor Carla
del Ponte, said he believe that del Ponte already written her
report to the UN Security Council and was &only going
through the motions8 in her visit to Zagreb. Mastruko was
pleased to hear of the visit by Ambassador Prosper on October


7. He noted that the meeting with State Attorney Bajic would
be very useful but that the meeting with Minister of Justice
Anticevic-Marinovic would be a waste of time since &she will
not be in the next government.8 Margeta also welcomed
Ambassador Prosper's visit and asked about what del Ponte
would be saying to the UN. DCM responded that del Ponte had
told the diplomatic community what she had told the GoC;
namely, that while cooperation on documentary requests was
improving, the Gotovina issue remained a major problem.

IPR MOU


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





9. (SBU) DCM also briefed Mastruko and Margeta on the IPR
MOU issue since it has the potential to escalate into a
significant bilateral irritant. Croatia was on the watch
list and could be elevated to the priority watch list.
Margeta noted this issue was very complex and movement would
be difficult until after elections and new parliament has
settled in. DCM noted that the EU required action on this
issue by the end of 2004 as a condition of EU membership and
this issue should be dealt with sooner, rather than later.

Comment


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





10. (C) As the parliamentary election campaign heats up, many
of our core bilateral issues are being put on hold. Approval
for sending troops to Iraq, if the next government supports
it, will certainly have to wait until the necessary
parliamentary committees are stood up to approve such a
decision.



11. (C) On Article 98, Since Mesic has consistently supported
actions to burnish Croatia,s credentials for EU membership,
we tend to believe that Mesic would in the end acquiesce to
the government position to follow the EU lead. In addition,
the Mesic position to wait until ICTY indictments are
resolved will put off until next year ) perhaps well into
next year ) any willingness to sign an Article 98 agreement.
Having said that, ultimately the Government and not Mesic
will decide under what conditions it will sign an Article 98
agreement. End Comment.
FRANK


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