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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05ZAGREB625 2005-04-20 12:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

ANOTHER RIGHT WING MAKEOVER - PARTY OF RIGHTS

Tags:   PGOV PREL HR 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L  ZAGREB 000625 

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EUR/SCE, ENGLISH, GAUDIOSI, KABUMOTO, BENEDICT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/20/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL HR
SUBJECT: ANOTHER RIGHT WING MAKEOVER - PARTY OF RIGHTS
COURTS DIPLOMATS

REF: ZAGREB 418

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



1. (U) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: The Croatian Party of Rights
(HSP) re-introduced itself to the international community
April 12 as a modern, pro-European, center-right party based
on tolerance, democracy, and love of the homeland. At a
lunch for diplomats, HSP President Anto Djapic, under the
tutelage of recently recruited advisor and Tudjman-era
Foreign Minister Mate Granic, issued new party guidelines
that support -- among other about-faces -- Euro-Atlantic
integration, cooperation with the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), friendly relations
with all neighbors, and the territorial integrity of Bosnia
and Herzegovina.



2. (U) Currently polling in third place among political
parties, the HSP expects to receive more than ten percent of
the vote at local elections on May 15 ) the best results in
party history. Djapic and Granic plan to parlay this
expected local success into a share of the national
government, and they are campaigning hard to make the HSP
more acceptable to the diplomatic corps. PM Ivo Sanader
turned the party away when forming his government in 2003 due
to international pressure. But with eight parliamentary
seats on offer and current coalition partners grumbling, the
PM may be hard pressed to resist the HSP's new allure.



3. (C) Post remains skeptical that the HSP's makeover is more
than a thin veneer around the party's leadership in Zagreb.
While the will to become moderate may be sincere at the top,
it will be difficult for the party to transform its base in
the rest of Croatia, where the black shirts of the HSP's
fascist past still hang in some closets. Post already can
see some daylight between Djapic's lunch rhetoric and the
party's behavior in the field. In addition, the HSP has
evolved as a party of opposition, never having been in power
at the national level and serving only in coalition at the
local level. As party president, Djapic is accustomed to
saying whatever he pleases without having to follow through
or take responsibility. If he succeeds in his quest for a
role in government, Djapic will face the true test of his
leadership. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

BLACK SHIRTS OFF, PINSTRIPES ON


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





4. (U) The HSP invited ambassadors from all neighboring
countries, EU member states and permanent members of the UN
Security Council to the April 12 lunch with the party's
eight-member presidency, but the diplomatic corps responded
cautiously, either declining or sending pinch hitters at the
level of first secretary and below. The exceptions among the
roughly 25 attendees: the Papal Nuncio and the Chinese
Ambassador -- the first due to the Vatican's special
relationship with Croatia, the second most likely because he
didn't understand the significance of the event.



5. (U) According to Djapic, the event was intended to fight
prejudices against party. He acknowledged the HSP's
hard-line war stance during the 1990s and its ties to the
Ustashe, supporters of Croatia's WWII fascist puppet state,
but stressed that there is no longer any connection. "We are
fighting for a better future, not a better past," he said.
He condemned all crimes committed by the Ustashe and said he
is prepared to pay his respects at nearby Jasenovac to the
victims of that notorious Ustashe concentration camp. Granic
is also planning a trip for Djapic to Yad Vashem in Israel
where he will condemn the Ustashe's WWII crimes. "We should
pay our respects to all innocent victims in Croatia," he
said, "regardless of whether they were victims of the red
side or the black side." However, the HSP opposes
manipulation of the number of victims of Jasenovac, which
range from 70,000 to 750,000 depending on the political
affiliation of the historian. Djapic maintains that Croatia
must do more to discover the victims of crimes during the
most recent war and sanction the perpetrators.

FOREIGN POLICY FLIP: SUPPORT FOR EU, NATO, ICTY, ETC.


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



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




6. (U) On foreign policy, one of the key areas where the HSP
has alienated the international community, Djapic announced
support for Croatia's membership in both the EU and NATO. He
noted that the quality of negotiations connected with EU
entry are more important than the speed, and criticized the
GoC's EU-centric outlook, stressing the need for excellent
relations with all permanent members of the UNSC, especially
the US, China and Russia.



7. (U) According to Djapic, the party supports friendly
relations with all neighbors and believes questions that


cannot be resolved bilaterally should be send to
international arbitration, such as the Piran Bay border
dispute with Slovenia. On BiH, the party supports
territorial integrity but expects full equality and
sovereignty of Croats there. On SaM, Djapic said, "We know
what happened between us. We should work to ensure it
doesn't happen again" through open dialogue.



8. (U) The HSP is aware of Croatia's international
obligations, Djapic said, and supports cooperation with the
ICTY. He believes, however, that the GoC has not used all of
the legal mechanisms at its disposal to resolve open issues,
such as challenging the basis of indictment against fugitive
Ante Gotovina.


LOCAL ELECTIONS: SPRINGBOARD TO NATIONAL GOVERNMENT?


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



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





9. (C) Djapic claimed the May 15 local elections "will change
the political landscape in Croatia, and the HSP will play an
important role." Both he and Granic hope that a double digit
finish will position them to enter coalition with the ruling
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in the GoC, as some of PM
Sanader's current partners, namely the Independent Serbian
Democratic Party (SDSS) and the Croatian Party of Pensioners
(HSU), grow more costly and less reliable. The HSP is open
to cooperation with all other parties with the exception of
the SDSS, as some members of its leadership participated
directly in the war against Croatia (for example, SDSS
president Vojislav Stanimirovic was a minister in the
so-called Republika Srbska Krajina).



10. (U) Despite differences with the SDSS, Djapic stressed
the party's support for the Constitutional Law on National
Minorities, which is designed to protect minority rights and
ensure minority representation in government and public
administration. The HSP also supports all conventions the
GoC has signed related to minorities and expects other
countries to equally respect their Croatian minorities.

GRANIC AS PUPPET MASTER -- AND NEXT FOREIGN MINISTER?


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



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





11. (C) Djapic could not even attempt to sell this new image
without the help of Mate Granic; who, having left the HDZ
after Tudjman's death, sees his role as HSP advisor as a
ticket back into government. The lunch event and the party
guidelines were both clearly scripted by Granic, who knows
well from his MFA days what the international community likes
to hear. He warned PolOff privately, though, that the HSP
would not accept a role in the HDZ government unless the GoC
showed commitment to real reforms, including increased
economic discipline and replacement of what Granic called
incompetent ministers. Of note, Granic includes on his list
of "incompetents" Minister of Justice Vesna Skare Ozbolt,
popular among the international community for her aggressive
judicial reforms. In addition, the SDSS would have to leave
government, sending a truly mixed signal to the diplomatic
community.

IS THAT A CRACK IN YOUR FACADE OR A CONSISTENCY PROBLEM?


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



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





12. (C) In only took one day for HSP behavior to conflict
with Djapic's lunchtime rhetoric, and we expect more examples
are on the way. A declaration supporting anti-fascism caused
a stir in the Parliament in early April when deputies could
not agree on language to mark the 60th anniversary of the
fall of Hitler's Nazis. Djapic told diplomats that the
original declaration equated anti-fascism to communism under
which notorious crimes were also committed, but said the HSP
would support a new, jointly drafted declaration. However,
the party abstained when the declaration came to a vote,
feebly arguing that the new declaration did not condemn the
crimes of the communist regime.



13. (C) Even HSP Vice-President Tonci Tadic expressed doubts
to PolOff about the chances of the party emerging as truly
reformed, pointing to new members with big money but
questionable ethics. The HSP's newfound popularity is like a
sponge, Tadic said. "You squeeze it, then it sucks up all
the dirty water."
FRANK


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