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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ZAGREB995
2003-05-06 14:50:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

GOC LURCHING FORWARD ON IMPLEMENTING MINORITIES LAW

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  PREL  HR  IT 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 000995 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2008
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR IT ITPGOV ITPGOV
SUBJECT: GOC LURCHING FORWARD ON IMPLEMENTING MINORITIES LAW

REF: 02 ZAGREB 2991

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

SUMMARY
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 000995

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2008
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR IT ITPGOV ITPGOV
SUBJECT: GOC LURCHING FORWARD ON IMPLEMENTING MINORITIES LAW

REF: 02 ZAGREB 2991

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

SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) IN DECEMBER 2002, THE CROATIAN PARLIAMENT PASSED A
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00995 01 OF 03 061502Z
NEW "CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL MINORITIES." THAT LAW
WAS WIDELY HAILED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AS A
REASONABLE COMPROMISE AND A STEP FORWARD FOR MINORITY RIGHTS
IN CROATIA. BUT THE CROATIAN GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN SLOW TO
IMPLEMENT IT, AND CAME UNDER FIRE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY FOR ITS DELAY. THE LAW CALLS FOR BROAD PROTECTIONS
OF MINORITY RIGHTS, INCREASED LEVELS OF REPRESENTATION AND
THE CREATION OF NEW LOCAL- AND NATIONAL- LEVEL "MINORITY
COUNCILS." THESE NEW COUNCILS WILL BE STATE-FUNDED AND,
WHILE THEY HAVE LITTLE DIRECT POLICY RESPONSIBILITIES, ARE
EXPECTED TO BE INFLUENTIAL IN DIRECTING STATE RESOURCES AND
IN SELECTING MINORITY CANDIDATES FOR LOCAL BY-ELECTIONS.


2. (C) ON APRIL 10, THE RACAN CABINET LURCHED INTO ACTION
AND ANNOUNCED THAT ELECTIONS FOR LOCAL MINORITY COUNCILS
WOULD TAKE PLACE ON MAY 18. MINORITY GROUPS COMPLAIN THAT
THE WARNING TIME IS TOO SHORT AND THAT BUREAUCRATIC SNAFUS
ARE PREVENTING REGISTRATION OF CANDIDATES. THE LEADER OF THE
CROATIA'S ETHNIC ITALIAN MINORITY HAS CALLED FOR A BOYCOTT.
THE OSCE MISSION IN CROATIA -- PERHAPS REFLEXIVELY -- HAS
JOINED WITH THE MINORITIES IN OBJECTING TO THE SHORT NOTICE,
BUT HAS ALSO CALLED ON ALL MINORITY GROUPS TO TAKE PART IN
THE ELECTION. END SUMMARY.

NEW "CONSTITUTIONAL LAW" ON MINORITIES ...
--------------


3. (C) CROATIA'S NEW "CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ON NATIONAL
MINORITIES" (CLNM) WAS PASSED ON DECEMBER 13 (REFTEL) AFTER A
DIVISIVE DEBATE FINALLY PRODUCED A COMPROMISE WITH WHICH

MINORITY GROUPS, THE OPPOSITION AND THE INTERNATIONAL
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00995 01 OF 03 061502Z
COMMUNITY DECLARED THEY COULD ALL LIVE. WHILE MINORITY
GROUPS DID NOT GET EVERYTHING THEY WANTED, GUARANTEED
MINORITY REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENT WAS INCREASED, AND THE
LAW IS GENERALLY ACCEPTED AS A STEP FORWARD FOR MINORITY
RIGHTS.

ESTABLISHES "MINORITY COUNCILS"
--------------


4. (SBU) THE CLNM CALLS FOR THE ELECTION OF NEW MINORITY
COUNCILS AT THE COMMUNITY, CITY AND COUNTY LEVEL. IN UNITS
OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT (CITIES AND TOWNS), EACH ETHNIC
MINORITY COMMUNITY WHICH HAS MORE THAN 200 INDIVIDUALS AND
MAKES UP AT LEAST 1.5 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL POPULATION MAY
ELECT A MINORITY COUNCIL. (A SINGLE TOWN WITH MORE THAN ONE
SIGNIFICANT MINORITY COMMUNITY COULD HAVE MORE THAN ONE
MINORITY COUNCIL.) IN ADDITION TO THE LOCAL MINORITY
COUNCILS, THE CLNM CREATED A NATIONAL-LEVEL COUNCIL MADE UP
OF FIVE MEMBERS APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNMENT, SEVEN ELECTED BY
THE LOCAL-LEVEL COUNCILS PLUS ALL OF THE DESIGNATED MINORITY
REPRESENTATIVES IN PARLIAMENT.


5. (SBU) IN MOST OF THEIR FUNCTIONS, MUNICIPAL MINORITY
COUNCILS ARE EXPECTED TO ACT AS LOCAL-LEVEL WATCHDOGS FOR THE
RIGHTS OF THE COMMUNITY THEY REPRESENT. COUNCILS ARE
EMPOWERED TO PROPOSE LOCAL LEGISLATION WITH THE AIM OF
ADVANCING THE GOALS OF THE MINORITY THEY REPRESENT. THEY MAY
ALSO REVIEW DECISIONS OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BODY AND, IF
THEY BELIEVE A DECISION UNFAIRLY DISADVANTAGES MINORITIES,
THEY MAY APPEAL IT DIRECTLY TO THE APPROPRIATE MINISTRY IN
ZAGREB, WHICH MUST IN TURN ANNUL THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
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PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00995 01 OF 03 061502Z
DECISION WITHIN EIGHT DAYS IF IT AGREES WITH THE LOCAL
COUNCIL. WHILE THE LAW DOES NOT IMPOSE QUOTAS FOR MINORITY
REPRESENTATION IN CITY OFFICES, COUNCILS HAVE THE RIGHT TO
"PROPOSE CANDIDATES FOR DUTIES IN STATE ADMINISTRATIVE BODIES
AND BODIES OF SELF-GOVERNMENT UNITS."


6. (SBU) THE CLNM INSTRUCTS MUNICIPALITIES TO ALLOCATE FUNDS
TO COVER THE ACTIVITIES OF LOCAL COUNCILS. COUNCILS HAVE THE
SAME STATUS AS NGOS AND ARE EXPRESSLY PERMITTED BY THE NEW
LAW TO USE FUNDS FROM PRIVATE DONATIONS, EVEN IF THEY ARE
FROM FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS.

ELECTIONS FOR MINORITY COUNCILS ON MAY 18
--------------


7. (SBU) COUNCILS WILL BE ELECTED BY THE SAME RULES WHICH
APPLY FOR ELECTIONS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT BODIES. ACCORDING TO
THESE RULES, THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF ELECTIONS MUST TAKE PLACE
NOT LESS THAN THIRTY DAYS BUT NOT MORE THAN SIXTY DAYS BEFORE
THE ELECTION. PM RACAN'S CABINET SET THE MAY 18 DATE FOR
ELECTIONS TO THE MINORITY COUNCILS AT ITS CLOSED SESSION ON
APRIL 10. THE DECISION BECAME FINAL ON APRIL 16, THE DATE OF
ITS PUBLICATION IN CROATIA'S OFFICIAL GAZETTE.

"TOO FAST," OBJECT MINORITY LEADERS

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ8098

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00995 02 OF 03 061502Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00
IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 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
ECA-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 SWCI-00 /006W
-------------- 606F9E 061502Z /38
P 061450Z MAY 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0117
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 03 ZAGREB 000995

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2008
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR IT ITPGOV ITPGOV
SUBJECT: GOC LURCHING FORWARD ON IMPLEMENTING MINORITIES LAW

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


8. (C) MINORITY LEADERS OBJECT TO THE SHORT NOTICE OF THE
ELECTIONS, BUT MOST HAVE BEGUN PREPARATIONS TO ENSURE THEIR
ORGANIZATIONS ARE REPRESENTED. SERB LEADER MILORAD PUPOVAC
COMPLAINED THAT THE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS PUBLISHED RIGHT BEFORE
THE EASTER SEASON, WHICH MEANT THAT MANY OF THE BUREAUCRATS
WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN ISSUING ELECTION MATERIALS WERE INSTEAD
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00995 02 OF 03 061502Z
STRETCHING LONG WEEKENDS INTO HOLIDAYS. FULLY 237
MUNICIPALITIES HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ENOUGH MINORITY POPULATION
TO ELECT MINORITY COUNCILS, EACH OF WHICH CAN HAVE FROM 10 -
15 MEMBERS (DEPENDING WHETHER IT IS A CITY/TOWN COUNCIL OR A
COUNTY COUNCIL), PUPOVAC EXPLAINED, AND IT IS A MONUMENTAL
TASK TO IDENTIFY CANDIDATES, PROVIDE THEM WITH REGISTRATION
FORMS, ENSURE THEY HAVE THE APPROPRIATE NUMBER NOMINATION
SIGNATURES AND THEN PAY THE FEE (ABOUT USD 7.00).


9. (C) PUPOVAC ADMITTED HE WAS CONCERNED THAT NATIONAL-LEVEL
ETHNIC POLITICAL PARTIES, LIKE HIS INDEPENDENT SERBIAN
DEMOCRATIC PARTY (SDSS), WOULD LOSE INFLUENCE IF THEY COULD
NOT REACH OUT TO ENOUGH LOCAL-LEVEL CANDIDATES IN TIME TO
SEAT A RESPECTABLE NUMBER OF LOCAL COUNCILORS. PUPOVAC
SPECULATED THAT WHILE THE COUNCILS HAVE NO FORMAL ROLE IN
SELECTING CANDIDATES FOR LOCAL-LEVEL BY-ELECTIONS (REQUIRED
TO ENSURE PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION BY MINORITIES IN LOCAL
COUNCILS), HE WAS SURE THAT THE COUNCILS WOULD BE INFLUENTIAL
IN THAT PROCESS.


10. (C) ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADER TIBOR SANTO, WHO HOLDS ONE
OF FIVE SEATS IN PARLIAMENT DESIGNATED FOR CROATIA'S ETHNIC
MINORITIES, AGREED THAT THE DEADLINE IS SHORT, BUT SAID THAT
HE EXPECTED ETHNIC HUNGARIANS TO FIELD LISTS OF CANDIDATES IN
ALL OF THE TWO DOZEN MUNICIPALITIES WHERE HUNGARIANS MAKE UP
ENOUGH OF THE POPULATION TO QUALIFY TO FORM MINORITY
COUNCILS. HE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAD NOT ACTED
INAPPROPRIATELY IN SETTING THE MAY 18 ELECTION DATE.

CALL FOR ITALIANS TO BOYCOTT COUNCIL ELECTIONS
-------------- -
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00995 02 OF 03 061502Z


11. (C) FURIO RADIN, THE MP REPRESENTING CROATIA'S ITALIAN
MINORITY IN PARLIAMENT, INSISTS THAT THE MAY 18 DEADLINE IS
FAR TOO SHORT AND HAS CALLED FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO SET
ANOTHER DATE FAR IN THE FUTURE. HE PUBLICLY CALLED ON ETHNIC
ITALIANS TO BOYCOTT THE ELECTION AND SAID THAT CROATIA'S
ITALIAN UNION (AN ISTRIA-BASED ETHNIC POLITICAL GROUPING)
WOULD NOT PARTICIPATE IN DRAFTING LISTS OF CANDIDATES. RADIN
TOLD OSCE PRIVATELY THAT THE DEADLINES ARE "IMPOSSIBLE TO
MEET" AND SPECULATED THAT THE MAY 18 DATE WAS "EITHER A
RESULT OF UTTER INCOMPETENCE OR A CLEAR WISH ON THE PART OF
THE GOVERNMENT TO DEMONSTRATE THAT MINORITIES WERE WEAK AND
INCAPABLE." RADIN POINTED OUT TO THE OSCE THAT THE ELECTION
RULES STATE THAT CANDIDATE LISTS MUST BE COMPLETED AND
SUBMITTED WITHIN TWELVE DAYS OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF
ELECTIONS. BECAUSE OF THE EASTER HOLIDAY, THIS PERIOD WAS
SHORTENED FURTHER.

IS RADIN JUST PROTECTING HIS INTERESTS?
--------------


12. (C) OTHER ETHNIC LEADERS WERE SURPRISED BY RADIN'S
VEHEMENCE AND, WHILE THEY RESPECT THE STRONG STANCE TAKEN BY
THE ITALIANS, THEY WONDER IF THE BOYCOTT TACTIC IS
COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. SERB LEADER PUPOVAC SPECULATED TO US THAT
ONE REASON THE ITALIANS MAY OBJECT TO THE NEW MINORITY ORDER
IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN KNOCKED DOWN A PEG. BEFORE PASSAGE
OF THE NEW CLNM, BOSNIAKS WERE NOT IDENTIFIED AS AN ETHNIC
MINORITY. NOW (USING DATA FROM THE MOST RECENT CENSUS),
BOSNIAKS ARE THE SECOND MOST NUMEROUS "NATIONAL MINORITY" IN
CROATIA, WHICH MEANS THAT THEY WILL GET A LARGER SLICE OF
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00995 02 OF 03 061502Z
STATE FUNDING THAN THE ITALIANS WILL.


13. (C) HUNGARIAN MP SANTO TOLD US THAT RADIN IS MOST LIKELY
CONCERNED THAT THE NEW MINORITY COUNCILS WILL DISPLACE THE
ITALIAN UNION. AS A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION, ONLY UNION
MEMBERS ELECT THEIR OFFICERS. CROATIA'S ITALIAN UNION IS
EXPRESSLY NAMED IN BILATERAL AGREEMENTS WITH THE GOVERNMENT
OF ITALY AS THE REPRESENTATIVE FOR ETHNIC ITALIANS IN
CROATIA. SANTO SPECULATED THAT IF ELECTIONS FOR THE NEW
COUNCILS ARE SUCCESSFUL, THE ITALIAN UNION'S STATUS WILL
DECREASE. HE SAID THAT THE MINORITY COUNCILS WERE NOT
INTENDED TO BE AN EXTENSION OF NATIONAL-LEVEL ETHNIC
POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS. THEY WERE INTENDED RATHER TO
EMPOWER A GROUP OF LOCAL MINORITIES TO SUPPORT AND DEFEND
MINORITY ISSUES AT THE LOCAL LEVEL.


14. (C) MATO ARLOVIC, CHAIR OF THE PARLIAMENT'S
CONSTITUTION, RULES AND POLITICAL SYSTEM COMMITTEE (WHICH
DRAFTED THE CLNM) TOLD US THAT RADIN'S RESISTANCE IS ALL
ABOUT MONEY. ACCORDING TO ONE PRESS ARTICLE, THE ITALIAN
GOVERNMENT IS FUNDING THE ITALIAN UNION TO THE TUNE OF ALMOST
3.5 MILLION EURO IN 2003. A MINORITY COUNCIL WHICH
REPRESENTES THE BROADER ETHNIC ITALIAN COMMUNITY IN CROATIA
MIGHT AT SOME POINT COMPETE FOR THIS FUNDING.

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ8102

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00995 03 OF 03 061503Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 DODE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00
IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 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
ECA-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-01 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 SWCI-00 /006W
-------------- 606FB1 061503Z /38
P 061450Z MAY 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0118
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 03 ZAGREB 000995

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2008
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR PHUM PREL HR IT ITPGOV ITPGOV
SUBJECT: GOC LURCHING FORWARD ON IMPLEMENTING MINORITIES LAW

OSCE PRESSES FOR GOC FLEXIBILITY
--------------


15. (C) PETER SEMNEBY, HEAD OF THE OSCE MISSION TO CROATIA,
MET WITH FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ANTE SIMONIC ON APRIL 25
TO LOBBY FOR MORE GOC HELP TO MINORITIES SEEKING TO REGISTER
AS CANDIDATES. PUBLICLY, THE OSCE IS ENCOURAGING MINORITIES
TO TAKE PART IN THE ELECTION, BUT PRIVATELY, THEY WONDER
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00995 03 OF 03 061503Z
WHETHER RADIN IS RIGHT AND WHETHER THE GOC HAS ENGINEERED
THIS PROCESS TO FAIL. DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER GORAN GRANIC HAS
BEEN TASKED BY THE CABINET WITH IMPLEMENTING THE CLNM --
GRANIC HAS BEEN INCREASINGLY OBSTRUCTIONIST TO INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITY EFFORTS ON REFUGEE RETURNS AND WAR CRIMES.


16. (C) PUPOVAC ADMITS THAT THE ACRIMONIOUS DEBATE BEFORE
PASSAGE OF THE CLNM MAY HAVE MADE SOME LEADING COALITION
FIGURES -- INCLUDING DPM GRANIC -- LESS EAGER TO REACH OUT TO
POLITICAL LEADERS OF THE MINORITY COMMUNITY. PUPOVAC SAID HE
MET WITH GRANIC JUST AFTER THE APRIL 10 CABINET MEETING WHEN
THE DATE FOR COUNCIL ELECTIONS HAD BEEN SET (BUT BEFORE
PUBLICATION), BUT THE DPM MADE NO MENTION OF THE MAY 18 DATE.
OSCE DEPUTY HEAD OF MISSION TODD BECKER (PLEASE PROTECT)
ADMITTED THAT THE GOC ACTIONS HAVE BEEN LEGAL, BUT ADDED THAT
HE THINKS THIS "OMISSION" COMBINED WITH THE DECISION TO
SCHEDULE ELECTIONS AT THIRTY-TWO DAYS AFTER ANNOUNCING
ELECTIONS (RATHER THAN CLOSER TO 60 DAYS) SHOWS THAT THE
GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WANT THESE ELECTIONS TO BE A SUCCESS.

GOC EXTENDS DEADLINE TO VERIFY VOTER ROLLS
--------------


17. (C) THERE ARE SOME RECENT SIGNS THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS
RESPONDING TO PRESSURE TO MAKE THE ELECTIONS A SUCCESS. MANY
MUNICIPALITIES HAVE ALREADY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE LISTS. ON
MAY 5, THE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED AN EXTENSION OF THE DEADLINE
FOR MINORITIES TO CHECK VOTER REGISTRATION LISTS TO ENSURE
ALL ELIGIBLE RESIDENTS WILL BE ALLOWED TO CAST BALLOTS.
PUPOVAC WELCOMED THE EXTENSION OF THE DEADLINE, BUT IT WAS
NOT ENOUGH FOR RADIN; HE TOLD US ON MAY 6 THAT THE ITALIANS
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00995 03 OF 03 061503Z
STILL PLAN TO BOYCOTT THE ELECTION AND PLANS TO SEEK A NEW
DATE FOR ITALIAN ELECTIONS. (WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE BOYCOTT
IS NOT TOTAL; SOME ETHNIC ITALIAN COMMUNITIES HAVE PROPOSED
CANDIDATE LISTS OVER THE OBJECTIONS OF THE ITALIAN UNION.)

COMMENT
--------------


18. (C) THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS BEEN PUSHING THE GOC
TO MOVE FORWARD ON IMPLEMENTING THE CLNM SINCE IT WAS PASSED,
AND THE MINORITY COMMUNITIES HERE HAVE CHEERED US ON. NOW
THAT THE GOC IS MOVING FORWARD, THE MINORITIES ARE CRYING
"FOUL" AND ARE ASKING FOR A DELAY IN THIS ELECTION. THIS
ELECTION SHOULD NOT HAVE COME AS A SURPRISE TO ANYONE IN THE
MINORITY COMMUNITY, LEAST OF ALL TO RADIN. HE HELPED DRAFT
THE CLNM AND KNOWS THE DEADLINES AND TIME LIMITS IN THE
ELECTION RULES. WE THINK THE OSCE'S CURRENT PUBLIC LINE IS
RIGHT ON THE MONEY: KEEP THE PRESSURE ON THE GOC TO COMMIT
RESOURCES AND SHOW FLEXIBILITY AS THE ELECTION APPROACHES
WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ENCOURAGING MINORITIES TO PARTICIPATE.
ROSSIN

CONFIDENTIAL

>