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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05ZAGREB431 2005-03-17 16:11:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

EU DELAY: SANADER SAYS GLASS STILL HALF FULL

Tags:   PGOV PREL EU HR 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L ZAGREB 000431 

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EUR/SCE - KABUMOTO, BENEDICT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL EU HR
SUBJECT: EU DELAY: SANADER SAYS GLASS STILL HALF FULL

REF: A. ZAGREB 418

B. ZAGREB 173

C. 04 ZAGREB 2207

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph Frank for reasons 1.5 (b) & (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: PM Ivo Sanader did his best to
put a positive spin on the GAERC's March 16 decision to delay
negotiations with Croatia, focusing on the approval of the
negotiating framework and the fact that more countries were
in favor of opening negotiations than against it. During the
PM's address to Parliament today, he said the decision should
not discourage anyone and the government must maintain its
focus on reforms. All indications are that Sanader remains
firmly in control of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union
(HDZ), with no rumblings from the party's right wing.



2. (U) Opposition leaders generally supported Sanader's line,
saying Croatia must press on with reforms despite the delay
and confirming they will not seek early elections. This
generally constructive approach appears to have soothed any
public anxiety (ref A). Only the far right Croatian Party of
Rights (HSP) tried to make political hay out of the decision,
laying responsibility for the delay, which HSP president Anto
Djapic said could last 20 years, squarely at the feet of the
Sanader government.



3. (C) Today's muted public reaction is a welcome
development. Most Croatians are unsurprised and generally
unconcerned with the delay. A common opinion expressed in
television interviews and polls has been that the country is
unprepared to begin negotiations anyway. Euroskeptics are
attempting to claim the day, with leaders of the interest
group "Independence and Progress" (SIN), the most vocal
opponent to EU membership, calling for a public protest on
Zagreb's main square to essentially thumb their noses at
Brussels. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

CROATIAN NATIONAL TELEVISION TAKES LEADERS TO TASK


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



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4. (U) Relatively little attention is being focused on the
role of ICTY fugitive Ante Gotovina on the delay. However,
perhaps the most significant media event of the past 48 hours
was a Croatian National Television segment comparing comments
made by Sanader, opposition leader and former PM Ivica Racan,
Speaker of Parliament Vladimir Seks and others over the last
4 years, ranging from opposition to the indictment and
evasive answers to questions about efforts to apprehend
Gotovina to the most recent calls for his arrest. The clear
message was, "If you were the ICTY, would you trust these
guys?"

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FORESEES NO CHANGES IN ACTIVITIES


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5. (C) Christos Makridis, political counsellor at the
European Commission's Zagreb mission, told EconOff today that
he had not seen any adverse political reaction to the delay
so far. If the postponement is a matter of months, business
will go on more or less as usual, with EU programs continuing
to assist in preparing Croatia for membership. If the delay
does drag into years, Makridis said, the public could turn
against necessary and sometimes painful reforms.
FRANK


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