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04ZAGREB584 2004-04-05 15:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L  ZAGREB 000584 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2014

REF: STATE 69468

Classified By: Nicholas M. Hill, Polecon Counselor, Reasons
1.4 (B) and (D).


1. (C) The new Croatian government is doing everything it
can to keep its EU and NATO bids on track and forge better
ties with the U.S. Foreign Minister Miomir Zuzul conveyed
confidence in a dinner on April 1 with the Ambassador and
EUR/SCE Director Chuck English. He said the Prime Minister's
trip to Washington last week went "extremely" well. They
were grateful for the President's supportive remarks at the
NATO ceremony at the White House. The new HDZ-led government
was cooperating with the War Crimes Tribunal "100 percent,"
and Carla del Ponte seemed to be very happy (septel). The
government remained commited to deliver any indictees to The
Hague that it could, including the five Bosnian Croats whose
indictments the court just issued.

2. (C) The GOC spoke with one voice. PM Sanader was
completely supportive of Washington's Iraq policy and would
do what it could to play a role -- although the opposition in
parliament limited its options. The Ambassador and English
urged the government to contribute troops to the new
protection force for the UN pressence in Iraq (ref). Zuzul
said he would take the matter up with the prime minister (see
para 5). Zuzul was confident the government would meet its
commitments to Croatia's Serbian community on property and
refugee issues. End summary.

3. (C) In a wide-ranging discussion over dinner April 1,
Foreign Minister Zuzul told the Ambassador and visiting
EUR/SCE Director Chuck English that the prime minister's
visit to the U.S. went extremely well. PM Sanader was
delighted with the remarks of the President at the White
House Accession ceremony for the seven newest NATO members
and three aspirants, including Croatia, Macedonia and
Albania. The president had more words of encouragement for
the aspirants than for the new members, Zuzul, who
accompanied the PM, said. The prime minister was delighted
in a pull aside with the President to hear praise for
Sanader's position on the Iraq war and terrorism. While
SecDef Rumsfeld was unable to meet separately with Sanader,
the PM had three separate encounters with Rumsfeld and was
pleased with the words of encouragement.

4. (C) Zuzul said that the GOC's commitment to getting into
NATO as fast as possible remained firm, although interest in
Alliance membership generally had declined in Croatia. The
government looked forward to the visit of NATO Secretary
General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer sometime in May. In addition
to meetings, Scheffer will speak to the Parliament. Zuzul
noted that, according to one poll, the public's support for
NATO was down from the upper sixties a few years ago to the
low fifties now. The Foreign Minister said that President
Mesic and some of his key advisors were at best ambivilent
about membership. The president is facing elections next
winter and is not likely to push Alliance membership
prominently in his election plank. "It's not popular to talk
about NATO in Croatia right now."

Troops/Assistance to Iraq?


5. (C) Zuzul said that Croatians seem to connect NATO
membership with the more controversial matter of sending
troops to Iraq. The GOC wants to play a helpful role, but
right now sending troops was extremely unpopular. Zuzul said
that while in Washington he talked to experts at Walter Reed
hospital; the GOC was considering offering medical
assistance. Zuzul had in mind making Croatian pediatric
facilities available to Iraqi children -- if children could
be transported to Zagreb for care. Passing points (ref), the
Ambassador and SCE Director English pressed Zuzul to consider
contributing troops to a contingent charged with protecting
what will be a large-size UN mission in Baghdad after the
transfer of sovereignty in June. Zuzul said he was
"personally" disposed to the idea, but securing enough
support would be problematic. He will consult with the prime
minister. Zuzul noted that fear of terrorist reprisals was a
problem in Croatia -- the president himself, whose support
would be critical to deliver troops to Iraq, has talked about
the terrorist threat a number of times, both to the public
and in private meetings with the government.

ICTY Cooperation


6. (C) Zuzul stressed that the GOC was doing everything it
could to cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal. "We're
cooperating 100 percent, not 90 percent." He said he was on

the phone with Carla del Ponte and the ICTY Liaison Office in
Zagreb constantly. Del Ponte told Justice Minister
Skare-Ozbolt this week that the government's efforts
"exceeded" her expectations. Zuzul underscored that the GOC
objects to some of the recent indictments that have arrived
from The Hague -- which characterize aspects of the Homeland
War as a "joint criminal enterprise" -- but would cooperate
regardless. The government has helped to deliver two
indictees already, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac, and has
consulted with the most recent group of indictees --
including Croatian Defense Council (HVO) Military Police
Chief, Valentin Coric -- and they would go to The Hague on
April 5. Zuzul said that this effort was not easy
politically, but the government had "no choice."

7. (C) The Ambassador and SCE Director pressed Zuzul hard
on the need to track down ICTY fugitive Ante Gotovina.
Authorities must demonstrate that they have "turned over
every stone" in their efforts to apprehend him, English said.
Getting Gotovina remained an essential priority in
Washington and the government must deploy all viable means to
find him -- and demonstrate as much to the Tribunal. Zuzul
countered that the government was doing everything it could
and would continue to do everything it could -- but it was
difficult to prove a negative. "Nobody would be happier than
we if Gotovina turned up in The Hague, but I'm not



8. (C) Zuzul said he was much more optimistic that the
government would enjoy success on its promises concerning
facilitating the return of ethnic Serb refugees. PM Sanader
was in constant touch with the Serb members of Parliament --
who are unofficial coalition partners of HDZ -- and would
fulfill commitments made at the beginning of the HDZ-led
government's mandate. Issues associated with return of
refugeess, including property restitution, were vexing, Zuzul
continued, but unlike with Gotovina, the government has more
control over the situation and would be able to deliver.
English noted that much was riding on how well Croatia's
creaky justice sector performed -- a point stressed by our
OSCE interlocutors in Zagreb. (Croatian courts suffer from
enormous backlogs, and police have been slow to follow
through on evictions in behalf of ethnic Serb property
owners.) Zuzul was undeterred. The government has much more
control over this issue than over finding Gotovina.