wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04BRUSSELS5125
2004-12-03 17:22:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

EU WRESTLING WITH WHAT TO DO ABOUT CROATIA NOW

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  HR  TU  ICTY  EUN  USEU  BRUSSELS 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 005125 

SIPDIS

NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR TU ICTY EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: EU WRESTLING WITH WHAT TO DO ABOUT CROATIA NOW

REF: A. STATE 254097

B. THE HAGUE 3133

C. VIENNA 4164

Classified By: Rick Holtzapple, PolOff, Reasons 1.4 (B/D)

SUMMARY
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 005125

SIPDIS

NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR TU ICTY EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: EU WRESTLING WITH WHAT TO DO ABOUT CROATIA NOW

REF: A. STATE 254097

B. THE HAGUE 3133

C. VIENNA 4164

Classified By: Rick Holtzapple, PolOff, Reasons 1.4 (B/D)

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


1. (C) The discussions among EU Member States in the Council
on Croatia have been tense, and the EU remains fairly evenly
divided on how strictly to condition open accession
negotiations with Croatia on improved cooperation with the
ICTY. The Commission supports our position (REF A) and High
Rep Solana has been delivering a firm message to the Croats,
even if he is not taking any explicit position in the EU's
internal debate. For now, the Dutch and the British are
optimistic that the Presidency's proposed text will hold
through next week. But Germany, at the level of Chancellor
Schroeder, is pushing hard for a softer text. Both the Dutch
and British reps in Brussels would like to reach consensus at
25 in COREPER on Dec. 8 on the Croatia text for the European
Council Conclusions, to reduce the risk of trade-offs over
Turkey or elsewhere in the end game closer to Dec. 17.
Whatever we could do to persuade doubters (and stiffen
supporters) that Croatia really can do more to meet its ICTY
obligations on Gotovina would help. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) The meetings of the EU's Balkans Working Group (COWEB)
on Nov. 29 and Committee of Permanent Representatives
(COREPER) on Dec. 1 established that the EU remains firmly
split on what to decide about opening accession negotiations
with Croatia in early 2005. The starting point of the debate
has been the summit Conclusions language circulated by the
Dutch on Nov. 29. Two phrases are at the core of the
discussion: 1) "that the remaining indictee must be located
and transferred to the Hague as soon as possible"; and 2)
"opening the accession negotiations on (date) provided that
full cooperation with ICTY has been confirmed by the Council."



3. (C/NF) The UK has been leading the camp pushing for even
tougher language, such as by dropping mention of a specific
date. A UK contact (strictly protect) involved in the
negotiations told us Dec. 3 that the UK position is a
negotiating ploy, and London would be fully satisfied with
the current proposed language, since it means accession talks
would only open on that date after another Council decision
-- by consensus. The UK does not, however, want the Dutch or
others to know that. Joining the UK in support of a tough
line has been the Netherlands; Denmark, Sweden, Finland and
Lithuania ("all rock solid"); Poland ("so far"); and Belgium
("a bit wobbly"). The Czech Republic and Portugal have only
been willing to say that ICTY conditionality is important,
but have not taken a clear position on Conclusion language.
Slovenia's position is currently unclear to the British or
Dutch. In COWEB they supported the UK line, but the Brits
now fear they may be willing to negotiate over ICTY language
as they appear to be putting their highest priority on
getting the Conclusions to include a reference to their
bilateral border dispute with Croatia.


4. (C) The Commission does not get a vote on the Council's
decision, but sits in on all discussions. Mia Asenius, who
handles Croatia for new Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn,
told us that he is satisfied with giving a date provided that
Croatia cooperates with ICTY. The Dutch proposal, she said,
"could have been worse.".


5. (C) Another camp, led by Germany and Austria (despite the
Austrians' REF C claim they would support language setting a
date but making cooperation with ICTY a condition for
starting the negotiations), has been pushing to weaken the
Dutch proposal. They are joined in this effort by France,
Italy, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia. Hungary
has been unclear, but appears inclined to go along with
Austria and Germany. Estonia and Latvia supported Germany at
the Nov. 29 COWEB, and then were silent at the Dec. 1 COREPER.


6. (C) Nonetheless, our contacts report that the current
proposed language seems to be holding. Dutch PermRep De
Bruijn, summarizing the COREPER discussion, was reported to
have said that they heard arguments coming from both sides,
and so were inclined to stick with their original language.
A Dutch redraft of the entire Conclusions for the Dec. 17
summit is due to be circulated on Dec. 6, and expectations
are the Croatia language will be unchanged (though our Dutch
contact pointed out that the pen is being very closely held
up in the Hague). COREPER will debate the Dec. 6 draft again
on December 8. Both the UK and the Dutch would like to reach
agreement on the Croatia text at that meeting, but are unsure
of the chances.


7. (C/NF) The major risk, from both the Dutch and British
perspective, is what kinds of deals, potentially involving
Conclusion language on Turkey, might be made if the issue
gets pushed higher than COREPER. And Berlin is reported to
have already begun. Chancellor Schroeder has been arguing
the German view with Chirac, and on Dec. 3 spoke with Belgian
PM Verhofstadt, and is calling around to several other
capitals. This German lobbying effort has left the UK
worried that support from Belgium (despite a strong stand at
the level of FM de Gucht) and Poland could go wobbly (our
contacts even worry the UK might wobble if this language
isn't locked in prior to the summit). The Vatican has
reportedly also weighed in, with a series of demarches to EU
Member States arguing that the EU should not hold an entire
country hostage to the fate of one man.


8. (C) The Croatians, meanwhile, continue a furious round of
diplomacy. FM Zuzul met with Solana on Dec. 3, looking "very
nervous", according to an EU official. Zuzul argued the
GoC's overall good record of cooperation with ICTY recently
should not be ignored just because of the Gotovina case.
Solana's response, we were told by his staff, was "you have a
problem, you know the rules, you have a couple of weeks. We
understand it may not be easy for you, but do your best to
solve this."

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


9. (C) We do not expect the EU will solve this issue on
December 8. If Schroeder is making calls, Berlin is unlikely
to let the issue be resolved at PermRep-level. The German
lobbying effort is particularly worrying, and is reportedly
based largely on arguing the unreliability of Carla del
Ponte. While we may share their doubts about del Ponte,
Berlin is vulnerable in its arguments that the EU should
disregard the judgment of a duly appointed, UN-authorized
official under international law. Member States such as
Greece, Spain, Italy or Austria, who have never been strong
advocates of conditionality, are likely beyond reach. But we
fear several other Member States just do not understand that
between now and any date proposed for opening Croatia's
negotiations (March 22 currently leads the betting) is the
window of maximum leverage over the GoC. As such, they are
susceptible to Croatian and German arguments that there is
nothing more Zagreb could be doing to catch the man.
Whatever we could do to persuade doubters such as Hungary,
Slovakia, Estonia or Latvia (and stiffen supporters such as
Poland, Belgium, Portugal or the Czech Republic) that Croatia
really can do more to meet its obligations would help.

MCKINLEY