DS LEW IN ZAGREB: NATO PARTNERSHIP, EU ACCESSION

Posted on September 9, 2011


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DE RUEHVB #0121/01 0571308
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 261308Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
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INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L ZAGREB 000121

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SCE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2020
TAGS: PREL PVOV HR
SUBJECT: DS LEW IN ZAGREB: NATO PARTNERSHIP, EU ACCESSION
AND CROATIA’S REGIONAL ROLE

Classified By: Vivian S. Walker, Deputy Chief of Mission, for reasons 1
.4 (b) & (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Deputy Secretary Jacob Lew traveled to
Zagreb February 17-18 as head of the presidential delegation
to the inauguration of Croatia’s third president, Ivo
Josipovic. Croatia’s ISAF contributions, EU accession and
role in the region emerged as key themes of the visit. In
addition to his attendance at the Feb. 18 inauguration event,
Deputy Secretary Lew met with President elect Josipovic on
the evening of the 17th, and, in the margins of the
inauguration, held bilateral meetings with the Croatian
Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Presidents of Slovenia
and Albania. During an official dinner, Deputy Secretary Lew
also had the opportunity to discuss Croatia’s key foreign and
domestic policy challenges with senior GoC officials and
advisors. The GoC expressed deep appreciation for Deputy
Secretary Lew’s visit, which served to reinforce the
excellent bilateral relationship between Croatia and the US
and to advance key issues on the bilateral agenda. End
Summary.

¶2. (C) During a meeting with President Ivo Josipovic on the
eve of his inauguration as Croatia,s third president, Deputy
Secretary Lew congratulated Josipovic on the deepening of
democracy and democratic institutions in Croatia over the
last ten years. Josipovic responded by thanking the USG for
its continued support and friendship. The Deputy Secretary
noted that the USG and the GoC share a number of multilateral
priorities, particularly in Afghanistan, adding that the USG
hopes that Croatia will be able to join with the US in
increasing its contribution to ISAF. Having flown in and
out of the air base at Mazar-al-Sharif, which is secured by
Croatian forces, Deputy Secretary Lew said that he could
personally attest to the importance of Croatia’s
contribution. The Deputy Secretary noted that training of
Afghan National security forces is essential in securing
Afghanistan’s future and particularly thanked Croatia for its
role in this area. He also asked both President Josipovic
and later FM Jandrokovic to consider providing more trainers
for police (ANP) and military (ANA).

¶3. (C) Josipovic said that the two foreign policy priorities
for his administration are EU accession and the development
of good relations within the region. With respect to EU
accession, Josipovic noted that many challenges have been
met, such as the forthcoming opening of Chapter 23, but that
significant reforms remain, particularly in the realm of
public administration. Josipovic said that it is essential
for Croatia to build good relationships with its neighbors,
adding that there are “unresolved consequences of the war (of
the 1990s) that must be addressed now. The current
generation has the responsibility to address and resolve
these issues.” Turning to domestic priorities, Josipovic —
a legal expert — cited the fight against corruption and
judicial reform as two essential and interrelated priorities
for his mandate. He commended efforts carried out by the
state prosecutor’s office to deal with local and regional
mafia elements, and said that improved sentencing laws and
proposed changes to the constitution will help to assure that
extradition procedures will be implemented when appropriate:
“citizenship cannot be used to avoid prosecution.”

¶4. (C) On the issue of economic reform, Josipovic noted that
“not enough” has been done. He cited the high rate of
unemployment and the growing number of poor people as
particular concerns: “We need to control the social
situation,” he said, or “disorder and chaos” may follow,
which would be “potentially destabilizing” for a small
country like Croatia. He agreed with the Deputy Secretary’s
observation that “this is the time to improve the trade and
investment environment,” adding that he will work with Prime
Minister Jandranka Kosor to deliver on the promise oQeform.
Josipovic said he was “very optimistic” about the potential
for cooperation between himself and Kosor and said he hoped
they could promote a common approach between the HDZ
(Kosor,s party) and his former party, the Social Democrats
(SDP). “No party affiliation can dominate” in the effort to
find a solution to the economic challenge. The Deputy
Secretary agreed, saying that getting leaders of opposing
parties to work together on difficult issues yields joint
ownership and new opportunities.

¶5. (C) The Deputy Secretary had dinner with a range of high
level Croatian government officials and advisors, in the
areas of foreign policy, defense, economics, culture and
education. Discussion focused on the current lack of
competitiveness of the Croatian economy and Croatia’s future
within the European Union. The Croatian guests spoke at
length about the challenge of developing normal relations

with Serbia, with this challenge amply illustrated as the
dinner guests received text message notification that the
Serb government had decided not to send a representative to
the next morning’s inauguration.

¶6. (C) During his meeting with Foreign Minister Jandrokovic,
the Deputy Secretary raised the GoC pledge made to Secretary
Clinton in December to increase its ISAF contribution, and
briefed Jandrokovic on the conversation with Josipovic,
especially with regard to OMLTs and POMLTs. Jandrokovic
responded that the government was now ready to implement this
pledge; following internal government deliberations, the next
step would be to seek approval from the new president and
then from the parliament. The Foreign Minister was
cautiously optimistic that this effort would be successful.
He said the army is prepared to increase the number of
training missions “very soon.” He noted all the assistance
Croatia had received from international friends in the 1990s
and said he viewed it as a moral obligation to do the same
for Afghanistan. NOTE: On February 22,just four days after
the visit, the Croatian government reaffirmed, with President
Josipovich’s support, its intent to increase its troop
contribution from 300 to 320.

¶7. (C) The Foreign Minister then outlined the status of
Croatia’s EU accession and said all negotiating chapters
should be opened and more than 20 closed by mid 2010. He
noted the positive moves of the British and Dutch on Chapter
23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and said the GoC will
continue all efforts to locate documents sought by the ICTY.
Jandrokovic noted the importance of Croatia’s EU accession to
others in the region, who say that if Croatia is not
successful then there is no hope for themselves. He also said
that Croatia wants to help others in the region, but will be
in a much stronger position from a resource perspective to do
so once it joins the EU. The Deputy Secretary welcomed
Croatia’s progress with Slovenia, but said improving
relations with Serbia is very important going forward.
Jandrokovic said the GoC wants to improve relations, but that
the Serbs need to come to terms psychologically with their
changed circumstances in the region and to adopt a genuine
Euro-Atlantic perspective. Jandrokovic and the Deputy
Secretary also discussed both countries’ efforts to reform
the diplomatic corps and redistribute resources to meet
current and future, rather than past, priorities. The
Foreign Minister also asked the status of an initiative he
discussed with the Secretary to post a U.S. diplomat at the
Croatian Foreign Ministry. The Deputy Secretary undertook to
check on developments.

¶8. (C) In a pre-inauguration bilateral meeting, Albanian
President Topi thanked the Deputy Secretary for the USG’s
assistance and friendship, particularly with Kosovo. They
noted that the second anniversary of Kosovo’s independence
was the prior day. The president briefly touched on
relations with Albania’s neighbors. He said that there is a
great deal of ambiguity in Serbia’s foreign policy, with
moves to orient the country on an EU path while still
contesting the independence of Kosovo. Topi said Kosovo’s
status is irreversible. He said that Macedonia has many
problems but good relations with Albania, and Albania’s
relations with Croatia and Montenegro are at “the best level
ever.” Topi briefed the Deputy Secretary on the opposition’s
boycott of parliament and said he is attempting to facilitate
a dialogue between the government and opposition. The Deputy
Secretary thanked the president for Albania’s assistance
resettling Guantanamo detainees and for its important ISAF
contribution. He noted that the USG will soon open a
consulate in Herat where Albanian forces are deployed and
expressed appreciation for the GoA’s consideration to
increase its ISAF commitment. The Deputy Secretary expressed
some concern to Topi regarding recent developments with
Albania’s intelligence services. Deputy Secretary Lew’s
meeting with Slovenian President Turk is reported septel.

¶9. (C) Comment: Croatian officials expressed deep
appreciation for Deputy Secretary Lew’s visit, which they
said underscored the critical role the U.S. has played in
support of Croatia’s NATO membership and EU accession path.
(It is noteworthy in this regard that the U.S. was the only
bilateral relationship highlighted by Josipovic in his
inauguration speech.) Embassy believes the Deputy
Secretary’s demarches on Croatia’s ISAF contribution,
relations with Serbia and economic reform will have a
positive impact.
FOLEY

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