wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10ZAGREB9 2010-01-05 14:09:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

PM'S BOLD MOVE AGAINST EX-PM IS A STRONG SIGNAL

Tags:   PGOV HR 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO0988
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHVB #0009/01 0051409
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051409Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9786
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000009 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/05/2020
TAGS: PGOV HR
SUBJECT: PM'S BOLD MOVE AGAINST EX-PM IS A STRONG SIGNAL
AGAINST CORRUPTION

REF: ZAGREB 000006

Classified By: Poloff Daniel Meges for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Prime Minister and chief of the Croatian
Democratic Union (HDZ) Jadranka Kosor announced on the
evening of January 4 that the HDZ presidency had decided to
strip former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader of his membership in
the party. Kosor emphasized that Sanader's criticism of the
party leadership during his January 3 press conference not
only sowed discord in the party, but threatened the
stability of the coalition government and therefore required
sanction. Kosor's decision to remove Sanader was backed by
three-quarters of the HDZ leadership, with only three of
Sanader's closest associates opposing the action. Sanader's
ouster has proven popular with the public, and the HDZ's
coalition partners have universally hailed the move as
positive. Kosor's actions strengthen her hand within the
party, and local media are portraying the intra-party drama
as part of an effort to combat corruption at all levels of
government. END SUMMARY



2. (U) After a 10 hour meeting of HDZ leaders on January 4,
Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor announced the revocation of
former Prime Minister and HDZ chairman Ivo Sanader's party
membership. Her comments emphasized that his removal was
spurred by his unprecedented and unwarranted criticism of the
HDZ leadership during his January 3 press conference, which
violated party statutes, sowed discord within the party
ranks, and threatened overall government stability. Kosor's
move to oust Sanader received the support of 16 members of
the HDZ presidency. Bianca Matkovic, currently Minister
Without Portfolio, and MP Petar Selem abstained, while
Sanader's close personal friends Speaker of Parliament Luka
Bebic, MP Mario Zubovic, and former Deputy PM Damir Polancec
opposed Sanader's removal. Sanader, for his part, commented
to the media that he would accept the party's decision "if it
is to the benefit of the HDZ."



3. (U) Early polls and numerous commentaries indicate that
the public is solidly behind Kosor's marginalization of
Sanader. Similarly, the HDZ's coalition partners all have
indicated that the decision to remove him was appropriate and
even necessary to assure their continued support for the
HDZ-led government. President Mesic also voiced support for
Kosor's action, saying that it was a "logical" reaction to
Sanader's attempt to wrest control of the party and the
government away from Kosor.



4. (C) Following the meeting with HDZ leaders, Kosor
postponed seeing the HDZ's coalition partners until January 5
and instead met with Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko and
Chief State Attorney Mladen Bajic. While no formal statement
was issued after this meeting, local media report the trio
discussed several ongoing corruption scandals that could lead
back to Sanader. This meeting is consistent with the pledge
made to post on January 4 by the PM's office that Sanader's
return would not disrupt the GoC's anti-corruption efforts.
(reftel) In fact, the PM's office referred post to a New
Year's message from Kosor to the public that called on
Croatians to stand together to fight for the rule of law as
they did in the 1990s to defend their country. Kosor
emphasized in several public venues recently that she would
be relentless in fighting corruption and that "no one would
be above the law."

5 (C) In response to Sanader's move, the opposition Social
Democratic Party (SDP), called for early elections.
Nevertheless, the government seems able to maintain its
majority in the parliament with the strong backing of the HDZ
and their coalition partners. In addition, Mesic has come
out against the idea of early elections. However, Sanader
can still activate his seat in parliament even after having
been expelled from the party. He may be able to rally HDZ
MPs in sufficient numbers to threaten the stability of the
government. (NOTE: By law, parliamentary mandates belong to
the individuals who won them during the 2007 parliamentary
election, and thus who can hold them as independent
representatives even if they are no longer members of a
party. As such, each of those individual who voted to
support Sanader or abstained in the HDZ presidency vote could
return to the Sabor as independent parliamentarians. End
Note.)



6. (SBU) Thus far, Kosor has been careful to separate her
handling of Sanader and her treatment of his closest
supporters, seeking to promote unity within her own party as
well as the coalition. Immediately after the press
conference HDZ vice president Vladimir Seks indicated that
Bebic--the most prominent HDZ official to support
Sanader--was unlikely to face sanctions over his overt

ZAGREB 00000009 002 OF 002


support for Sanader's return. Additionally, Kosor made a
statement on January 5, after meeting with her coalition
partners, that she still "had confidence in Bebic," and
indicated that despite his contrary vote she expected him to
respect the decision of the HDZ presidency. During a January
5 Christmas reception hosted by the Serb National Council,
Kosor reiterated, to much applause, the importance of a
united front in the face of the current economic crisis and
the fight against organized crime and corruption.



7. (C) COMMENT: PM Kosor's decision to expel Sanader from
the HDZ has received strong backing from her party, her
coalition partners and the public. She has shed the last
vestige of her image as a "soft" leader who lacks support
within her party. Instead, she has emerged as a force to be
reckoned with, someone who will take no prisoners in the
fight against corruption. At the same time, her calibrated
response to those closest to Sanader seems aimed at limiting
the damage to the party and ensuring that HDZ MPs firmly
support the government coalition, highlighting her commitment
to constructive, not destructive change. END COMMENT
WALKER