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03ZAGREB519 2003-03-10 17:16:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

SANADER'S HDZ: RATINGS UP, BUT STILL NOT READY FOR

Tags:   PGOV PREL PREF PHUM HR 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 ZAGREB 000519 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR (BOGUE) AND EUR/SCE (NARDI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2013
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00519 01 OF 05 101728Z
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: SANADER'S HDZ: RATINGS UP, BUT STILL NOT READY FOR
PRIME TIME

REF: 02 ZAGREB 2659

CLASSIFIED BY: POLOFF A.F. GODFREY FOR REASONS 1.5 (B,D)

SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION
------------------------



1. (C) CROATIA'S OPPOSITION HDZ HAS BEEN WORKING HARD TO
REHABILITATE ITSELF IN THE EYES OF VOTERS EVER SINCE IT WAS
EJECTED FROM POWER IN JANUARY 2000. PARTY LEADERS CLAIM --
LOUDLY AND OFTEN -- THAT THE HDZ IS COMPLETING ITS
"DEMOCRATIC TRANSFORMATION" FROM THE CORRUPT, NATIONALIST
PARTY FOUNDED BY FORMER PRESIDENT TUDJMAN. BUT BEYOND A
STILL-INCOMPLETE POLITICAL PURGE AND THE APPLICATION OF A LOT
OF POLISH TO ITS FACADE, THE HDZ REMAINS UNRECONSTRUCTED AND
UNDEMOCRATIC, AND WHILE AN HDZ GOVERNMENT WOULD MOST LIKELY
BE MORE EFFICIENT THAN THE CURRENT COALITION, IT WOULD STILL
BE UNRELIABLE AND PROBABLY A HINDRANCE TO ACHIEVING OUR
REGIONAL STABILITY GOALS IN SOUTH-CENTRAL EUROPE.



2. (C) POLLS SHOW THAT CROATIA'S VOTERS, APART FROM THE HDZ
FAITHFUL, ARE STILL HESITANT TO ACCEPT HDZ PRESIDENT
SANADER'S DECLARATION THAT THE HDZ IS "NEW AND IMPROVED,"
DESPITE THEIR FRUSTRATION WITH THE CURRENT LACKLUSTER
COALITION. SANADER DESPERATELY SEEKS THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY'S VALIDATION SO HE CAN PUT TO REST THE WELL-PLACED
FEARS OF MANY CROATIANS THAT A RETURN OF THE HDZ TO POWER
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00519 01 OF 05 101728Z
WOULD HURT CROATIA'S CHANCES TO JOIN THE EU AND NATO. U.S.
ACCEPTANCE OF THE HDZ AS "NORMAL" IS CENTRAL TO SANADER'S
STRATEGY. FOR MORE THAN A YEAR, HE HAS SOUGHT TO CHANGE THE
USG POLICY OF ONLY MEETING HIM AT THE WORKING LEVEL. OUR
POLICY OF KEEPING SANADER AT ARM'S LENGTH IS WELL-KNOWN IN
CROATIAN POLITICAL CIRCLES.



3. (C) AS THE PRE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN CROATIA BEGINS TO
WARM UP, OUR ABILITY TO INFLUENCE SANADER IS AT ITS PEAK. ON
FEBRUARY 21, THE AMBASSADOR MET PRIVATELY WITH SANADER FOR
THE FIRST TIME. A POLISHED SALESMAN CONVINCED OF THE QUALITY
OF HIS "PRODUCT," SANADER TOUTED HIS "REFORM" RECORD AND DID
HIS BEST TO ESTABLISH REGULAR TIES WITH THE EMBASSY. BUT THE
AMBASSADOR USED THE ONE-ON-ONE MEETING TO DELIVER A SHARP
MESSAGE OF WHAT THE HDZ MUST DO BEFORE THAT TAKES PLACE.
FROM COOPERATION WITH ICTY TO ACTIVELY SUPPORTING REFUGEE
RETURN AND TO RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS IN THE REGION, THE
AMBASSADOR LAID DOWN CLEAR EXPECTATIONS OF THE HDZ. ON PARTY
REFORMS, HE PRESSED SANADER TO MOVE BEYOND POLITICALLY
EXPEDIENT PERSONNEL CHANGES AND DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO
REFORM BY ADDRESSING COMPREHENSIVELY THE HDZ'S LEGACY OF
CORRUPTION AND ETHNIC WAR AND BY ENSURING LOCAL HDZ LEADERS
HEW TO A PUBLICLY-DECLARED, MORE PROGRESSIVE HDZ POLICY.
SANADER CLAIMED HE WAS ON TRACK TO MAKE FURTHER CHANGES TO
THE HDZ AND DEMONSTRATE ITS COMMITMENT TO PROGRESS IN THE
REGION. WE WILL HAVE TO SEE AND INSIST ON RESULTS BEFORE WE
GIVE HIM THE VALIDATION HE SEEKS. OUR FIRST REAL OPPORTUNITY
TO SEE RESULTS WILL LIKELY NOT COME BEFORE THE NEXT ELECTION
CAMPAIGN IS OVER. END SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION.

HDZ: HOSTAGE TO HISTORY
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00519 01 OF 05 101728Z


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





4. (C) THE CROATIAN DEMOCRATIC UNION (HDZ) HAS FOR MOST OF
THE PAST TWO YEARS BEEN CROATIA'S HIGHEST-POLLING POLITICAL
PARTY (AROUND 20 PERCENT, PLUS OR MINUS THREE). BUT EVEN AS
THE COALITION PARTIES HAVE FALTERED, PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE
HDZ HAS NOT GROWN BEYOND 25 PERCENT. THIS SUGGESTS THAT FEW
VOTERS OUTSIDE THOSE ALWAYS FAITHFUL TO THE HDZ BRAND ARE
READY TO TRUST THE PARTY, EVEN THREE YEARS AFTER IT WAS VOTED
OUT. ALTHOUGH TUDJMAN'S HDZ SECURED CROATIA'S FUTURE AS AN
INDEPENDENT STATE, IT ALSO BROUGHT THE COUNTRY TO THE BRINK
OF FINANCIAL RUIN AND INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION, LEAVING IT FAR
BEHIND RIVALS IN THE RACE FOR THE PRIZES OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE
EU AND NATO. VOTERS SEEM TO REMEMBER ALL THAT.



5. (C) DURING THE TUDJMAN ERA, THE HDZ VIEWED ITSELF MORE AS
A POLITICAL MOVEMENT THAN A POLITICAL PARTY. ALL "GOOD
CROATS," REGARDLESS OF THEIR POLITICAL ORIENTATION, WERE
SUPPOSED TO UNITE IN THE HDZ TO BATTLE FOR CROATIA'S
INDEPENDENCE AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC,
PERCEIVED OR INVENTED. OPPOSITION TO THE HDZ WAS LABELLED AS
"COMMUNIST" AND LEADERS CALLING FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION WERE
ACCUSED OF TRYING TO RECONSTITUTE YUGOSLAVIA. THIS
SIMPLISTIC UNDERSTANDING OF POLITICS PERSISTS IN SOME

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ8989

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00519 02 OF 05 101729Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
DOTE-00 PERC-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00
VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 MOFM-05
MOF-01 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01
PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SCT-00 SP-00
IRM-00 STR-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 EPAE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00
PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00 /012W


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

41E985 101729Z /38
P 101716Z MAR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9643
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY
USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 05 ZAGREB 000519

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR (BOGUE) AND EUR/SCE (NARDI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2013
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00519 02 OF 05 101729Z
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: SANADER'S HDZ: RATINGS UP, BUT STILL NOT READY FOR
PRIME TIME

OBSERVERS, AND CAN STILL BE SEEN IN HARDLINE COMMENTARY LIKE
THAT OF "WASHINGTON TIMES" COLUMNIST JEFFREY KUHNER. HDZ
PRESIDENT IVO SANADER HAS, SINCE HE WAS FIRST ELECTED AS
PARTY PRESIDENT AFTER THE HDZ'S CRUSHING ELECTORAL DEFEAT IN
JANUARY 2000, SOUGHT TO RE-MAKE HIS PARTY AS A "NORMAL"
CENTER-RIGHT POLITICAL OPTION. BUT IN HIS FIRST TERM AS HDZ
PRESIDENT, SANADER MADE CHANGES ONLY TO THE PARTY'S IMAGE,
BLAMING STRONG INTERNAL OPPOSITION FROM RIVAL AND TOP TUDJMAN
HENCHMAN IVIC PASALIC.

CLEANING HOUSE AND SETTLING POLITICAL ACCOUNTS


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

-



6. (C) WHEN SANADER DEFEATED PASALIC AND WAS RE-ELECTED TO
THE PARTY PRESIDENCY IN APRIL 2002, HE BEGAN A SERIES OF
POLITICAL PURGES IN THE HDZ TO ROOT OUT THOSE SENIOR MEMBERS
AT THE CENTRAL AND LOCAL LEVELS STILL LOYAL TO PASALIC. THIS
CULMINATED IN THE EJECTION OF PASALIC LATER IN 2002 AND OF
SEVERAL LOCAL PARTY COMMITTEES THAT WOULD NOT TOE THE LINE.
BUT WHILE MOST OF THOSE WHO FOLLOWED PASALIC OUT THE DOOR (OR
WERE PUSHED OUT) WERE FROM THE HDZ'S MOST EXTREME NATIONALIST
WING, THE PURGES WERE CONDUCTED SOLELY FOR REASONS OF LOYALTY
TO SANADER'S LEADERSHIP, NOT IDEOLOGY. MANY OF THE HDZ'S
NATIONALIST DINOSAURS REMAIN WITH SANADER.

HDZ'S SIGHTS SET ON NEXT ELECTION


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


CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00519 02 OF 05 101729Z



7. (C) WITH HIS INTERNAL BATTLES BEHIND HIM AND THE SUPPORT
OF A FEW SLICK, MODERN POLITICAL OPERATORS (LIKE FORMER
AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S. MIOMIR ZUZUL AND HDZ VICE PRESIDENT
JADRANKA KOSOR), SANADER NOW HAS HIS SIGHTS FIRMLY ON THE
NEXT ELECTIONS. WITH THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT FLOUNDERING FROM
CRISIS TO CRISIS (MOST CREATED BY THEIR OWN INTERNAL
BICKERING), THE HDZ OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO TAKE A COMMANDING
LEAD IN THE POLLS.



8. (C) HOWEVER, THE HDZ CONTINUES TO POLL IN THE RANGE OF 23
PERCENT, AHEAD OF PM RACAN'S SDP, BUT STUBBORNLY FAR BELOW
THE LEVEL REQUIRED TO BE ABLE TO GOVERN BY ITSELF. SANADER'S
TASK IS SIMPLE TO UNDERSTAND, BUT HARD TO ACHIEVE: TO RETURN
TO GOVERNMENT, THE HDZ NEEDS EITHER TO CONVINCE MORE VOTERS
TO BACK HIS PARTY OR TO CONVINCE OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES THAT
HIS HDZ WOULD BE A TRUSTWORTHY PARTNER IN COALITION. AND HE
HAS TO DO THIS WHILE KEEPING THE NATIONALIST RIGHT-WING CORE
OF HIS HDZ FIRMLY IN HIS CAMP.

HDZ NEEDS USG SEAL OF APPROVAL TO CONVINCE UNDECIDEDS


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



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





9. (C) ONE RECENT RELIABLE POLL SHOWS THAT NEARLY 40 PERCENT
OF THOSE WHO INTEND TO VOTE IN THE NEXT ELECTION HAVE NOT
MADE UP THEIR MINDS. SANADER BELIEVES CROATIA'S UNDECIDED
VOTERS ARE LOOKING TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO JUDGE
WHETHER THE HDZ HAS BECOME A PARTY CAPABLE OF GOVERNING THEIR
COUNTRY OUTSIDE OF WARTIME. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE KONRAD
ADENAUER FOUNDATION AND SOME CONSERVATIVE EU PARTIES
AFFILIATED WITH THE EUROPEAN PEOPLE'S PARTY, OTHER IC LEADERS
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00519 02 OF 05 101729Z
HAVE TAKEN THE SAME LINE AS WE HAVE, KEEPING THE HDZ AT ARM'S
LENGTH UNTIL IT DEMONSTRATES -- ON THE ISSUES THAT MATTER,
NOT JUST PERSONNEL -- THAT IT HAS CHANGED.



10. (C) WE HAD BEEN WEIGHING FOR SOME TIME A MEETING WITH
SANADER TO EXPLAIN WHERE THE HDZ NEEDS TO CHANGE; AS THE
PRE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN CROATIA BEGINS TO WARM UP, OUR
ABILITY TO INFLUENCE SANADER IS AT ITS PEAK. THERE IS ALSO
LESS TO LOSE: AS THE COALITION PARTIES ARE INCREASINGLY
SEIZED WITH ELECTIONS, THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALL BUT STOPPED
TAKING UNPOPULAR STEPS ON SOME OF THE ISSUES WE CONSIDER MOST
IMPORTANT, LIKE REFUGEE RETURN.



11. (C) SANADER'S RECENT CLEAR AND POSITIVE STATEMENTS ON
IRAQ INFLUENCED THE TIMING OF OUR MEETING, WHICH WAS TAKEN
(AS INTENDED) BY THE GOC AS A SHOT ACROSS ITS BOW. OUR AIM
WAS TO PROD PM RACAN INTO TAKING A MORE CONSTRUCTIVE LINE ON
PROVIDING LOGISTICS SUPPORT TO CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT CARRYING
U.S. TROOPS TO THE MIDEAST. ALTHOUGH THE DETAILS OF THE
MEETING WITH SANADER REMAIN OUT OF THE PRESS -- AS AGREED --
WE LEAKED NEWS OF THE MEETING TO THE SDP, EXPLAINING THAT THE
HDZ'S STANCE SUPPORTING USG CALLS FOR ACTION ON IRAQ WAS ONE
OF THE REASONS. PM RACAN ANNOUNCED HIS GOVERNMENT'S DECISION
TO APPROVE USG LOGISTICS REQUESTS SOON AFTER. RACAN REFERRED

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ8987

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00519 03 OF 05 101729Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
PERC-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00
INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 MOFM-05 MOF-01 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PA-00
PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SCT-00 SP-00 IRM-00
STR-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01
G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00 /013W


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

41E992 101729Z /38
P 101716Z MAR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9644
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY
USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 05 ZAGREB 000519

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR (BOGUE) AND EUR/SCE (NARDI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2013
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00519 03 OF 05 101729Z
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: SANADER'S HDZ: RATINGS UP, BUT STILL NOT READY FOR
PRIME TIME

INDIRECTLY TO THIS SANADER MEETING TO THE AMBASSADOR WHEN HE
INFORMED THE AMBASSADOR THAT THE GOC WOULD APPROVE THE USE OF
CROATIAN AIRSPACE AND AIRFIELDS (ZAGREB 409).



12. (C) ON FEBRUARY 21, THE AMBASSADOR MET PRIVATELY WITH
SANADER AT THE RESIDENCE. THE AMBASSADOR OPENED THE MEETING
BY THANKING SANADER FOR HIS STRONG STATEMENTS IN SUPPORT OF
THE USG POSITION ON IRAQ. SANADER TOLD THE AMBASSADOR
CONVINCINGLY THAT THIS WAS NOT JUST HIS, BUT HIS PARTY'S
POSITION, TAKEN NOT TO GAIN FAVOR WITH THE U.S., BUT BECAUSE
THE HDZ BELIEVES IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. HE KNOWS THE
POSITION RUNS AGAINST PUBLIC OPINION. THE AMBASSADOR
EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR SANADER'S VIEW, BUT UNDERSCORED
THAT IRAQ IS IN A CATEGORY OF ISSUES THAT SHOULD BE ABOVE
POLITICS. WE HAD INTERPRETED THE HDZ'S FEBRUARY 19 VOTE
AGAINST THE GOC DECISION TO SUPPORT THE VILNIUS-10 DECISION
IN A SABOR COMMITTEE AS PLAYING POLITICS WITH THE ISSUE.
SANADER WAS DEFENSIVE, SAYING THAT THE COMMITTEE VOTE WAS NOT
ON THE POLICY, PER SE, BUT TO APPROVE A GOVERNMENT REPORT
ABOUT THE POLICY, A REPORT WITH WHICH HIS PARTY DID NOT FULLY
AGREE SINCE IT FELT THE GOC WAS MISHANDLING THE IRAQ ISSUE.

AMB: NO BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT FOR HDZ


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





13. (C) THE AMBASSADOR THEN DESCRIBED FOR SANADER WHY HE HAS
BEEN HESITANT TO ENGAGE WITH THE HDZ AND WHY THE USG WILL NOT
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00519 03 OF 05 101729Z
TAKE HIS PARTY'S ASSERTIONS AT FACE VALUE. WE HAVE A LONG
MEMORY. THE AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT HE PERSONALLY WAS INVOLVED
IN SOUTH CENTRAL EUROPE WHEN THE POLICIES THE HDZ GOVERNMENT
WAS IMPLEMENTING WERE WORKING IN DIRECT OPPOSITION TO U.S.
GOALS FOR REGIONAL STABILITY IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. THE
HDZ GOVERNMENT HAD BEEN USEFUL TO US ON SOME FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ISSUES, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT CAME TO SUPPORTING NATO AIR WAR
AGAINST THE FRY, BUT ON ALMOST EVERY OTHER ISSUE -- FOR
EXAMPLE THE TUDJMAN GOVERNMENT'S DISRUPTIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH
CROATS IN BOSNIA, ITS ACTIVE OBSTRUCTION OF THE RETURN OF
ETHNIC SERBS TO THEIR HOMES IN CROATIA, ITS OBSTRUCTION OF
COOPERATION WITH ICTY AND, OF COURSE, ITS PERVASIVE
CORRUPTION AND CRONY CAPITALISM -- THE HDZ HAD BEEN ON THE
WRONG SIDE. THIS HISTORY WOULD CONTINUE TO COLOR THE
EMBASSY'S RECOMMENDATION TO WASHINGTON ON HOW TO ENGAGE WITH
THE HDZ.

FINISH YOUR "PURGE" -- GET RID OF GLAVAS AND ROJS


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



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





14. (C) THE AMBASSADOR TOLD SANADER THAT WE HAD BEEN
FOLLOWING THE PERSONNEL CHANGES IN HDZ CLOSELY. WHILE THE
DEPARTURE OF PASALIC AND SOME OF HIS CLOSEST ASSOCIATES WAS A
GOOD THING, THERE WAS MUCH MORE HOUSECLEANING TO DO. RETIRED
GENERAL LJUBO CESIC-ROJS IS A CARICATURE OF THE TUDJMAN HDZ,
STILL TRYING TO DISGUISE HIS SMUGGLING AND ILLEGAL GAINS WITH
PATRIOTIC STATEMENTS AND WITH ONE FOOT IN HERZEGOVINA. WORSE
STILL, OSIJEK STRONGMAN BRANIMIR GLAVAS, WAS STILL ONE OF
SANADER'S MOST TRUSTED ADVISERS. (INDEED, MANY ARGUE THAT
GLAVAS' VOTE-RIGGING AT THE LAST HDZ CONVENTION KEPT SANADER
IN CONTROL OF THE PARTY.) THE AMBASSADOR RECALLED IN DETAIL
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00519 03 OF 05 101729Z
GLAVAS' ROLE IN CLOSE LEAGUE WITH FORMER DEFENSE MINISTER
SUSAK THAT HELPED SPARK WAR IN 1991 IN THE MURDER OF OSIJEK
POLICE CHIEF RIEHL-KIR AND THE BOROVO SELO ATTACK. AS LONG
AS GLAVAS WAS IN THE HDZ, THE AMBASSADOR TOLD SANADER, WE
WOULD NOT TAKE IT (OR HIM) SERIOUSLY.

NO ROOM FOR POLITICAL MANEUVER ON COOPERATION WITH ICTY


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



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





15. (C) ON ICTY COOPERATION, THE AMBASSADOR SAID THERE IS NO
ROOM FOR COMPROMISE. IF THE HDZ WANTS THE RESPECT OF THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, IT MUST SHOW RESPECT TO ITS
INSTITUTIONS. IF THE HDZ EXPECTS TO BE ACCEPTED AS A
RESPONSIBLE PARTY, THEN ITS LEADER MAY NOT SAY THAT IF IN
GOVERNMENT HE WOULD SEEK TO RE-OPEN CROATIA'S LAW ON
COOPERATION WITH ICTY WHEN HE COMES TO POWER. NO HDZ LEADER
CAN EXPECT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BY THE U.S. AS A REFORMER IF
HE BASES HIS CAMPAIGN ON THE "WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP OUR
GENERALS" THEME. WHEN THE NEXT INDICTMENT COMES DOWN FROM
THE TRIBUNAL, THE AMBASSADOR CONTINUED, CROATIA'S RESPONSIBLE
POLITICAL LEADERS MUST CALL FOR WHOMEVER IS INDICTED TO GO TO
THE HAGUE OR BE TRANSFERRED PROMPTLY.

HDZ SHOULD PUT ITS MONEY WHERE ITS MOUTH IS ON RETURNS

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ8992

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00519 04 OF 05 101730Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
PERC-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00
INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 MOFM-05 MOF-01 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PA-00
PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SCT-00 SP-00 IRM-00
STR-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01
G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00 /013W


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

41E9B2 101730Z /38
P 101716Z MAR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9645
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY
USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 04 OF 05 ZAGREB 000519

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR (BOGUE) AND EUR/SCE (NARDI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2013
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00519 04 OF 05 101730Z
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: SANADER'S HDZ: RATINGS UP, BUT STILL NOT READY FOR
PRIME TIME



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



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





16. (C) THE AMBASSADOR TOLD SANADER THAT REFUGEE RETURN AND
REINTEGRATION IS AN ISSUE WHERE THE HDZ CAN SHOW WHETHER IT
IS REFORMED WITHOUT WAITING FOR ELECTIONS. HE CALLED ON
SANADER TO BACK UP HIS POSITIVE PRIVATE STATEMENTS WELCOMING
RETURN WITH PUBLIC POLICY STATEMENTS TO PARTY MEMBERS,
INSISTING THAT THEY ENCOURAGE LAWFUL RETURN. THE AMBASSADOR
URGED SANADER TO CALL ON HDZ MAYORS AND COUNTY PREFECTS TO
COOPERATE WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
TO FACILITATE REFUGEE RETURN. THE AMBASSADOR POINTED OUT
THAT SOME HDZ OFFICIALS, EVEN IN AREAS WHERE THE EFFECTS OF
THE WAR ARE STILL STRONGLY FELT, ARE SUPPORTING RETURNS; THE
USG IS PLEASED TO HAVE ENTERED INTO SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP
RELATIONSHIPS WITH SOME MUNICIPALITIES WHERE HDZ HOLDS A
MAJORITY. IN THE FIELD, READINESS TO MOVE FORWARD IS A MORE
IMPORTANT CRITERIA FOR SELECTION IN THESE PROGRAMS THAN PARTY
AFFILIATION, THE AMBASSADOR SAID. BUT THE WORST
OBSTRUCTIONIST MAYORS WERE DISPROPORTIONATELY HDZ. SANADER
NEEDED TO LEAD HIS PARTY TO BE CONSTRUCTIVE EVERYWHERE IT
GOVERNED.

SANADER: "HEY, WE'RE NOT ALL BAD"


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





17. (C) SANADER THANKED THE AMBASSADOR FOR HIS FRANK
MESSAGES; HE SAID HE GENUINELY APPRECIATED THE USG'S
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PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00519 04 OF 05 101730Z
UNVARNISHED VIEW OF WHERE THE HDZ STOOD. WHILE HE
ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE HDZ HAS ITS "WARTS," SANADER SAID HE IS
NEVERTHELESS PROUD OF HIS PARTY. PRESIDENT TUDJMAN WAS A
STATESMAN WHOSE CONTRIBUTION WILL BE RECOGNIZED BY HISTORY.
SANADER SAID HE KNOWS HIS PARTY'S TRANSFORMATION IS
INCOMPLETE; THE HDZ STILL HAS A WAYS TO GO BEFORE IT BECOMES
THE RESPONSIBLE, CENTER-RIGHT PARTY HE HOPES TO CREATE.



18. (C) HE TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT WHEN HE WAS ELECTED
PARTY PRESIDENT IN APRIL 2000, IT WAS STILL TUDJMAN'S HDZ
THAT HE TOOK OVER, VERY MUCH A WARTIME PARTY. DESPITE
PASALIC'S DEPARTURE WITH A FEW OF HIS FAITHFUL, THE
PARLIAMENTARY CAUCUS WAS AND IS STILL FULL OF "LITTLE
TUDJMANS," MANY OF WHOM DO NOT SHARE THE IDEOLOGY OF THE
PARTY SANADER SEEKS TO DEVELOP. UNTIL THESE PEOPLE LEAVE THE
PARTY, THE HDZ WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE MANY OF THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF A NATIONAL MOVEMENT RATHER THAN A
MAINSTREAM POLITICAL PARTY.



19. (C) SANADER HOPES TO ADDRESS THE HDZ'S LACK OF TOLERANCE
AND TRANSPARENCY BY CHANGING THE PEOPLE AT THE TOP OF THE
PARTY WITH MORE PROGRESSIVE, YOUNGER PARTY MEMBERS. WITH THE
WIN OVER PASALIC IN 2002, SANADER CLAIMED HE NOW HAS COMPLETE
CONTROL OF THE NATIONAL LEVEL ELECTORAL LISTS. HE
"GUARANTEED" THE AMBASSADOR THAT FULLY 80 PERCENT OF THE
CURRENT PARLIAMENTARY CAUCUS WOULD BE OUT OF THE SABOR AFTER
THE NEXT ELECTION. HE CLAIMED THAT ROJS WAS ALREADY ON THE
WAY OUT. HE DID NOT TAKE ON THE AMBASSADOR'S DENUNCIATION OF
GLAVAS BY NAME, BUT ARGUED THAT EASTERN SLAVONIA (LITERALLY,
GLAVAS' STOMPING GROUND) IS A "DIFFICULT" AREA WHERE "THERE
ARE STILL MANY WAR WOUNDS." ON RETURNS, SANADER CLAIMED THAT
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00519 04 OF 05 101730Z
HIS PARTY'S POLICY IS THAT ALL WHO WISH TO RETURN SHOULD BE
ABLE TO DO SO. HE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE ISSUE IS NOT
ADDRESSED IN A UNIFORM WAY BY HDZ LOCAL LEADERS. SANADER
EXPLAINED THAT ONE OF THE WAYS HE IS "DEMOCRATIZING" THE HDZ
IS TO PUSH RESPONSIBILITY FOR ISSUES DOWN TO THE LOCAL LEVEL;
IN DOING SO HE GIVES UP A MEASURE OF CONTROL OVER LOCAL
OFFICIALS' BEHAVIOR.



20. (C) NEVERTHELESS, SANADER POINTED OUT THE HDZ HAS
RECENTLY TAKEN SOME POLICY POSITIONS WHICH SHOW PROGRESS. HE
TOOK CREDIT FOR THE HDZ'S SUBSTANTIVE CONTRIBUTION TO
CROATIA'S PROGRESSIVE NEW CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL
MINORITIES, FOR ITS VOTE IN THE SABOR TO APPROVE THE
DEPLOYMENT OF A CROATIAN MILITARY POLICE UNIT TO AFGHANISTAN
AND HIS PARTY'S PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S LAUNCH OF
CROATIA'S APPLICATION FOR EU MEMBERSHIP.



21. (C) SANADER SAID HE WAS PROUD OF THE HDZ RECORD IN
SUPPORTING CONSTRUCTIVE RELATIONS WITH CROATIA'S NEIGHBORS.
THE HDZ HAS BROKEN TIES WITH THE HDZ-BIH, HE ASSERTED, AND
SUPPORTED THE GOC POLICY OF PROPER STATE-TO-STATE RELATIONS.
HE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD WORK HARDER TO RESOLVE
OUTSTANDING BORDER ISSUES WITH SERBIA-MONTENEGRO. SANADER
SAID HE UNDERSTANDS THE COMPLEXITY OF THE BORDER ISSUES (HE

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INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AID-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
PERC-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00
INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 MOFM-05 MOF-01 AC-01
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01 CAEX-01 PA-00
PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SCT-00 SP-00 IRM-00
STR-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01
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--------------------------

41E9CC 101730Z /38
P 101716Z MAR 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9646
INFO AMEMBASSY BELGRADE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SKOPJE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TIRANA PRIORITY
USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY
USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 05 OF 05 ZAGREB 000519

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR (BOGUE) AND EUR/SCE (NARDI)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2013
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PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00519 05 OF 05 101730Z
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM PREL PREF PHUM HR HRPGOV
SUBJECT: SANADER'S HDZ: RATINGS UP, BUT STILL NOT READY FOR
PRIME TIME

MENTIONED THAT HE HAD ALREADY MET WITH THE SERBIA-MONTENEGRO
AMBASSADOR TO CROATIA), BUT ARGUED THAT WHILE IT MAY TAKE
TIME TO RESOLVE THESE ISSUES, IT ALSO TAKES LEADERSHIP,
LARGELY ABSENT IN THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT. (IN A LATER
MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR, S-M AMBASSADOR SIMURDIC
CHARACTERIZED HIS MEETING WITH SANADER IN LESS POSITIVE
TERMS.)



22. (C) SANADER WAS EAGER TO SET A DATE FOR A FUTURE MEETING
WITH THE AMBASSADOR, AND SAID HE WOULD AGREE ON ANY TERMS
PROPOSED. HE ALSO SOUGHT TO ESTABLISH MORE REGULAR CONTACT
WITH THE EMBASSY. ON THE ISSUE OF REFUGEE RETURN, HE
PROPOSED SETTING UP A WORKING GROUP OF EXPERTS FROM THE HDZ
AND THE EMBASSY TO DISCUSS WAYS TO MOVE THE ISSUE FORWARD.
THE AMBASSADOR PARRIED THE IDEA OF WORKING GROUPS ON THIS
ISSUE AND ON ICTY, PREFERRING TO CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE
HDZ'S "REFORM" AND THEN SEEK TO ENGAGE WITH SANADER FOR
FUTURE MEETINGS BASED ON THE PARTY'S FORWARD PROGRESS.



23. (C) BY AND LARGE, SANADER STUCK TO THE "NO PRESS"
GROUND RULES SET UP IN ADVANCE, ALTHOUGH OUR BACK-CHANNEL
MESSAGE (SEE PARA 11 ABOVE) DID GENERATE SOME PRESS INTEREST
ABOUT A "SECRET" MEETING BETWEEN SANADER AND AN EMBASSY
"SENIOR OFFICIAL." SANADER PUBLISHED A MAJOR INTERVIEW ON
MARCH 1 IN WHICH HE ADDRESSED SOME OF THE AMBASSADOR'S
CONCERNS, BUT MISSED IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITIES TO DEMONSTRATE
HIS PARTY'S COMMITMENT TO THE GOALS OUTLINED BY THE
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PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00519 05 OF 05 101730Z
AMBASSADOR DURING THEIR MEETING. AS HE HAS IN THE PAST, HE
ACKNOWLEDGED THE HDZ'S FAILURE TO CURB RAMPANT CORRUPTION
DURING THE TUDJMAN REGIME. ON ICTY, HE SPOKE OUT OF BOTH
SIDES OF HIS MOUTH IN THE SAME INTERVIEW. WHILE HE SAID THAT
"ALL UN MEMBER STATES MUST COOPERATE WITH THE TRIBUNAL" AND
VOWED TO USE LEGAL CHALLENGES WHICH CROATIA HAS A RIGHT TO
PURSUE, HE "REJECTED THE UNACCEPTABLE POLITICAL
QUALIFICATIONS" IN THE GOTOVINA INDICTMENT AND DECLARED THAT
THE HDZ WOULD STICK TO THIS POSITION. (TO BE FAIR, THE GOC
DOES LITTLE BETTER.)

COMMENT


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





24. (C) SANADER, CLEARLY ONE OF CROATIA'S NATURAL SALESMEN,
STRIKES US AS PERSONALLY GENUINE, BUT IT IS ALSO CLEAR THAT
HE IS NOT COMMITTED TO ANYTHING BUT RETURNING THE HDZ TO
GOVERNMENT. SANADER KNOWS THAT HIS ACHILLES' HEEL IS THE
ABILITY OF POLITICAL OPPONENTS IN THE CURRENT COALITION TO
CONVINCE CROATIANS THAT A VOTE FOR THE HDZ IS A VOTE AGAINST
MEMBERSHIP IN THE EU. THAT MEANS THIS PRE-ELECTION PERIOD IS
OUR BEST OPPORTUNITY TO GET SANADER AT LEAST TO MAKE
STATEMENTS (EVEN IF ACTIONS WOULD BE UNREALISTIC TO EXPECT)
IN SUPPORT OF OUR REGIONAL STABILITY GOALS.



25. (C) OUR MEETING WITH SANDER DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE ARE
ANY CLOSER TO RECOGNIZING THE HDZ AS A VIABLE DEMOCRATIC
OPTION FOR CROATIA. WE WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE THIS POINT
PRIVATELY TO OTHER POLITICAL LEADERS IN CROATIA. OUR
RAMPED-UP ELECTION-YEAR DEMOCRACY-BUILDING ASSISTANCE
CONTINUES TO BE AIMED AT SUPPORTING THE HDZ'S POTENTIAL
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PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00519 05 OF 05 101730Z
OPPONENTS BY HELPING THEM IDENTIFY RESONANT CAMPAIGN THEMES
AND BY GETTING OUT THE VOTE -- EVERY VOTER WHO NEEDS TO BE
GOTTEN OUT IS A COALITION VOTER; HDZ IS A SOLID BLOC.



26. (C) THE NEXT STEP IS UP TO SANADER'S HDZ. WE SET CLEAR
BENCHMARKS. SANADER'S COMMITMENT TO REFORM BOTH ON POLICY
ISSUES AND ON TRANSFORMING THE HDZ INTO A DEMOCRATIC PARTY
SHOULD BE RELATIVELY EASY TO GAUGE, BOTH BY HIS PUBLIC
STATEMENTS AND IN THE CANDIDATES THE HDZ PUTS UP FOR THE NEXT
ELECTION. FOR CROATIA TO BECOME A FULLY FUNCTIONAL
DEMOCRACY, THE HDZ NEEDS TO BECOME A NORMAL POLITICAL PARTY
WHICH VOTERS COULD CHOOSE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE CURRENT
LINEUP. THIS MEETING WAS A FIRST SERIOUS EFFORT TO ENGAGE
AND TEST SANADER'S WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO EFFECT THAT
CHANGE. WE REMAIN FROM MISSOURI AS TO THE CHANGES HE WILL DO
SO.
ROSSIN

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