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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BELGRADE1325
2006-08-22 10:15:00
SECRET
Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

ICTY ACTION PLAN UPDATE NUMBER 3: AUGUST 18, 2006

Tags:   ICTY  PREL  PGOV  PHUM  SR 
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RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 1361
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						S E C R E T BELGRADE 001325 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: CLOSURE OF ICTY
TAGS: ICTY PREL PGOV PHUM SR
SUBJECT: ICTY ACTION PLAN UPDATE NUMBER 3: AUGUST 18, 2006


Classified By: Ambassador Michael Polt, reasons 1.4 (b,d)

Summary

This cable describes GoS ICTY Action Plan implementation as
of August 18, 2006.

S E C R E T BELGRADE 001325

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: CLOSURE OF ICTY
TAGS: ICTY PREL PGOV PHUM SR
SUBJECT: ICTY ACTION PLAN UPDATE NUMBER 3: AUGUST 18, 2006


Classified By: Ambassador Michael Polt, reasons 1.4 (b,d)

Summary

This cable describes GoS ICTY Action Plan implementation as
of August 18, 2006.


1. (c) One month into the announcement of the Action Plan
(AP), there is still no sign of a sustained and public
senior-level effort to prepare the ground for a Mladic
handover. Visiting ICTY officials shared our disappointment
at the pace of work on the action plan, and agreed that the
ultimate success of the plan will depend in large part on PM
Kostunica's willingness to engage personally and committedly
- both to signal to the public a change in policy away from
"voluntary surrenders," and to signal to operational people
that they will in fact get the political cover/backing they
need if they succeed in locating and arresting Mladic. While
statements by Ljajic and others over the weekend of August
19-20 show some movement on a media campaign, the few
statements from the top levels of the government continue to
refrain from calling for Mladic's arrest and instead consist
of the usual half measures of affirming the government's
commitment to "fulfill its international obligations." End
summary.

ICTY Meetings


2. (c) Prior to our weekly meeting with Ljajic, DCM and
poloff met August 18 with ICTY chief investigator Patrick
Lopez-Terres at the local ICTY headquarters. He had come out
of some preliminary Belgrade meetings August 14-15 and a trip
to Montenegro August 16-17. He was scheduled to meet with
the AP team after meeting with us (more on that below). It
was clear after our discussions that we are of the same mind
with regards to actions so far, i.e., unimpressed.
Lopez-Terres said del Ponte is increasingly frustrated at the
lack of progress, and still suspects local officials are
withholding information. Lopez-Terres was a lot more focused
on Vukcevic and his role, and was apparently looking for ways
to put pressure on Vukcevic to do more to produce results.

In particular, Lopez-Terres criticized Vukcevic's "hands-off"
approach to the operational aspects of the Mladic hunt - in
contrast to Croatian prosecutor Bajic's more energetic role
in the Gotovina process. We shared with him our impression
that Vukcevic, while honest and forthright, is not going to
be in a position to make something happen until and unless
Kostunica gets on board and makes it clear to his people that
he is on board.

Actions


3. (c) Ljajic told us later in the day that the government
had made a decision to dismiss General Krstic from his post
at the Southern Serbia coordination body because of his
pro-Mladic comments (as he had hinted in our first meeting -
SEPTEL). We welcomed the news, but asked why this fact
wasn't made public, as what would seem an obvious part of a
vigorous media campaign. Ljajic somewhat sheepishly said
going public would give Krstic a soapbox, so they didn't want
to force the issue. We responded that this would just
present another opportunity to move a vigorous media campaign
forward, and reiterated that the government was missing an
opportunity to show it is willing to act forcibly against
those who contradict their (presumed) commitment to wrap up
Mladic.


4. (s) Ljajic also told us the GoS had a new lead ) a
friend of Tolimir's wife was spotted taking some medications
into Banja Luka ) the indication being that they had some
fresh leads on picking up Tolimir, but nothing more specific
(though he did say at the end he was hopeful there would be
something more substantial to report in the next 10-12 days).


5. (c) Ljajic said the GoS assessment now is that Mladic
has developed a new support network, and they are trying to
penetrate it, but they also had to face the possibility that
Mladic might never be caught.


6. (c) Finally, Ljajic said Lopez-Terres had declared
himself "impressed" after meeting with the AP team later in
the morning. He said the team had passed to Lopez-Terres all
their new activities (comprising just those items we have
reported from our last two meetings - SEPTELS), and that
Lopez-Terres seemed satisfied. We question whether Lopez-Terres
would have been impressed with the modest additional information
generated to date, given our conversations with him.

Media Plan


7. (c) Ljajic said a media team will be formed in the next
week to develop a comprehensive plan that would include TV
and radio spots on war crimes, leaking of investigative
details to the press (as mentioned in previous meetings -
SEPTELS), roundtables and seminars with prominent Serbian
analysts and academics about war crimes and facing the past,
and brochures and pamphlets explaining some of the war crimes
committed during the Balkan wars. He also said he has a
meeting scheduled with Kostunica the week of August 21, in
which he will urge the PM to come out with a definitive
public statement about Mladic (Note: The Ambassador plans to
see Kostunica August 24, when the USG 11-point proposal will
be high on the agenda. End note.). He asked for our help
with (a) paying salaries or giving other financial support to
the media team, and (b) appointing someone at the Embassy who
could liaise with the team and help them craft their message.
Ljajic was somewhat despondent on the ability of any media
campaign to reverse public opinion overnight. We reminded
him that the public needs little preparation for GoS action
against Mladic - the GoS media strategy should be executed as
additional pressure points on Mladic and his supporters.


8. (u) Following our meeting, there was a spate of
ICTY-related statements in the local press throughout the
weekend. Some were good - Ljajic noting his expectation that
Mladic would have to be arrested, FONMIN Draskovic's
(apparently uncoordinated) statement that the government
should prepare a media plan to explain to the Serbian people
the heinous crimes of which Mladic is accused, and a
statement by Bishop Grigorije of Hercegovina that his
congregation would not tolerate war criminals walking the
streets of their town (Trebinje). In addition, local media
(quoting unnamed government sources) reported on Krstic's
removal as deputy chief of the southern Serbia coordinating
body (SEPTEL) for making pro-Mladic statements.


9. (u) Unfortunately, the "government source" portrayed the
removal as at the insistence of the international community,
not as the principled act of a responsible government.
Notably, there has been no official statement from the
government about the removal. In addition, both Kostunica
and Local Government Affairs Minister Loncar made
ICTY-related statements over the weekend, but both
sidestepped the issue of arresting Mladic and instead stuck
to repetitions of the "fulfilling Serbia's international
obligations" line (though both did refer to Mladic's
"handover" to ICTY). Government spokesman Djuric made a
similar statement, forgoing an opportunity to call for
Mladic's arrest but putting particular emphasis on the need
to arrest former Bosnian commander Dudakovic (for his command
responsibility in war crimes appearing on recently-released
videos from Operation Storm and/or other engagements).

Comment


10. (c) Operationally, Ljajic seems confident new leads are
developing, though he cautioned that they are no nearer the
"final prize." Political buy-in from the high level people
who matter is still far from apparent one month into the AP.
We reminded Ljajic that del Ponte may make an assessment as
early as mid-September; that this assessment would have a
significant impact on the EU's decisions regarding restarting
SAA talks; and that MINFIN Dinkic has promised to pull G-17
Plus out of the government (and perhaps bring it down) if
talks haven't restarted by the end of September. The
lukewarm (at best) reception Dinkic got for his "Plan Plus"
proposal in Brussels August 17 ) Rehn essentially just
reiterated that Mladic has to be in The Hague for talks to
restart ) only reinforces what we see as the EU's skepticism
(shared by us) of Belgrade's political will.

MOORE