|04ZAGREB2013||2004-11-18 15:22:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Zagreb|
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 ZAGREB 002013
1. (U) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Politicians and analysts from
across nearly the entire political spectrum have praised PM
Ivo Sanader's November 15 visit to Belgrade and his meetings
with SAM President Svetozar Marovic and PM Vojislav Kostunica
as a key step forward in post-war reconciliation. According
to the MFA, concrete results from this visit include an
agreement on the protection of minority rights (septel) and a
joint statement recognizing the two countrie' shared goal of
Euro-Atlantic integration and highlighting the importance of
regional cooperation. In Croatian political circles, the
substance of the trip is far outweighed by the magnitude of
the visit itself, the first of a Croatian head of government
to the SAM capital.
2. (C) The visit is also a reassuring sign of Sanader's
control over the right wing of his party, particularly in the
run-up to presidential elections expected in early January.
The PM continues to succeed in his pro-integration and
pro-reconciliation foreign policy, keeping the ruling
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) squarely in line with the
expectations of the international community. Only the far
right Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) opposed the Belgrade
trip, saying it was poorly timed, three days before the
anniversary of the fall of Vukovar. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.
DOCUMENTS HIGHLIGHT COMMON EUROPEAN GOALS
3. (U) In a now familiar refrain, Damir Kusen, Assistant
Minister in the MFA for EU, NATO and member states, told the
DCM that both sides were committed to addressing their
differences in a "European spirit." Kusen said during the
visit the GoC announced its intention to withdraw all
military forces from along the SAM border by the end of 2004,
and hoped their neighbors would reciprocate. The GoC will
also extend its visa exemption for SAM citizens by 6 months,
with the possibility of making the policy permanent
(presumably after the border is completely de-militarized).
SAM's deliverables, according to Kusen, included support for
Croatia's bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security
Council, and the return of land registries and books from a
monastic library taken by the JNA during the war. The GoC
hopes to focus an expected Kostunica visit to Zagreb in the
spring on trade and economic cooperation.
4. (U) Minority issues dominated much of the visit. MOJ
Vesna Skare-Ozbolt signed an agreement on the protection of
national minorities with the SAM Minister of Human and
Minority Rights Rasim Ljajic. Kusen emphasized that the GoC
sees the final phase of refugee returns as a bilateral issue
with SAM, and hopes to speed up the resolution of missing
persons cases. Kusen noted that the GoC's budgetary
challenges will temporarily delay resolution of the return of
property to Serbs, but said SAM officials understand this.
Several days before the Belgrade visit, according to Kusen,
the GoC provided the Serbian government with a
much-publicized list of war crimes indictments (a version of
which has since appeared on the internet) in an effort to
address concerns that fear of arrest prevents some Serb
refugees from returning.
MINORITIES AND OPPOSITION AGREE ON SIGNIFICANCE OF VISIT
5. (C) SAM Ambassador to Croatia Milan Simurdic, who
accompanied Sanader on the entire Belgrade visit, called it
truly historic. He told the DCM that the Serb minority in
Croatia was very satisfied with Sanader's decision to make
the trip and he viewed it as very productive.
6. (C) Furio Radin, an Italian minority MP who chairs the
Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Rights of
National Minorities, told PolOff that PM's visit was
"necessary and courageous, particularly just before the
presidential elections." Radin praised Sanader's foreign
policy, calling it the best part of the current government.
He noted that the real proof of the PM's success was his
support among minority MPs, and all have praised his Belgrade
7. (C) Professor Damir Grubisa, a left-wing political
scientist who left the Tudjman government in protest over its
expansionist policy toward Bosnia, said the visit shows that
Croatia and SAM are pushing the war into the past. Grubisa,
who does not often agree with the PM, called Sanader a
"shrewd statesman," and commended his "business-like
approach" to regional relations. The Belgrade visit, Grubisa
told PolOff, showed real leadership on Sanader's part and
will open a dialogue that will make all future cooperation