SENATORS VOINOVICH AND SHAHEEN DISCUSS REGIONAL

Posted on September 9, 2011


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E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2020
TAGS: PREL PGOV HR OVIP
SUBJECT: SENATORS VOINOVICH AND SHAHEEN DISCUSS REGIONAL
POLITICS WITH SENIOR CROATIAN LEADERSHIP

REF: A. 09 ZAGREB 691
¶B. ZAGREB 00055

Classified By: PolOff Peter D’Amico, Reasons 1.4 B/D

¶1. (C) Summary. On February 15 Senators Voinovich and
Shaheen met with PM Kosor, Foreign Minister Jandrokovic,
Defense Minister Vukelic, then-President Mesic and
President-Elect Josipovic. Prime Minister Kosor described
the GoC’s key goals as completing EU accession negotiations,
strengthening the economy, and fighting corruption. FM
Jandrokovic said the dialogue between Belgrade and Zagreb
that began in December had “stagnated” following President
Tadic’s decision not to come to Josipovic’s inauguration.
Nevertheless, he hoped the talks would soon be relaunched.
Josipovic described the situation in Bosnia as a “big mess”
and criticized the BiH Croats’ desire for a third entity.
Mesic said he wanted to see all the countries in Southeast
Europe join the EU and NATO. Senators Voinovich and Shaheen
said they shared this vision for the region. End Summary.

PM Kosor’s Key Domestic and Foreign Policy Priorities

¶2. (C) Prime Minister Kosor said her key goals are completing
EU accession negotiations, strengthening the economy, and
fighting corruption. Kosor thanked the Senators for the U.S.
role in supporting Croatia’s EU accession process, especially
the U.S. efforts to end the Slovenian blockade of their
negotiations. Her top priority is now to complete EU
negotiations this year. Senators Voinovich and Shaheen
congratulated Kosor on her progress with EU accession and
anti-corruption efforts. Senator Voinovich noted that he
wanted all of the countries that once made up Yugoslavia to
eventually be members of the EU and NATO.

¶3. (C) On the region, Kosor said Croatia would not give up on
the fundamental principles of Dayton for BiH. Even though
the Croatian constitution requires Zagreb to assist Croats
outside of Croatia, Bosnian Croats must recognize that their
state is Bosnia and their capital is Sarajevo. The Bosnian
Croats must rely on themselves for solutions rather than
Zagreb. Regarding Serbia, she said Croatia will continue to
build bridges for the sake of both countries’ common European
future. She and Slovenian PM Pahor are jointly-sponsoring a
regional conference next month to assist neighboring
countries on the EU path. The conference would demonstrate
how two countries that recently had problems can join forces
to work toward mutual goals. Commenting on Croatia’s global
role, Kosor reaffirmed the GoC’s support for the ISAF mission.

¶4. (C) Kosor characterized the fight against corruption as
part of her effort to improve the economy. While she
acknowledged the poor state of the economy and the need for
strong recovery efforts, she repeatedly emphasized that
Croatia’s problems were the result of the global crisis,
rather than a crisis of the government’s economic policies.
(Comment: While the global crisis has had an impact on
Croatia’s economy, domestic factors such as the unfriendly
business climate and the excessive share of government
spending in GDP also contribute to sluggish growth. Post
plans to engage the PM directly on this issue in the near
future. End Comment.)

FM and DefMin On Croatia’s Regional Politics, EU Bid, and ISAF

¶5. (C) At lunch with Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic and
Defense Minister Branko Vukelic, Senators Voinovich and
Shaheen reviewed key regional and bilateral issues. The FM
stressed the GoC’s unequivocal support for BiH’s sovereignty
and territorial integrity. The main challenge was assuring
the equal rights of the three constituent peoples, while also
establishing an effective and functioning government.
Political reform had to take place in order to preserve
stability in BiH, and Jandrokovic noted the GoC’s efforts to
engage Bosnian Croats constructively in the political reform
process (ref A).

¶6. (C) Regarding Serbia, Jandrokovic noted that a dialogue
between Belgrade and Zagreb began before Christmas (ref B),
but the talks “stagnated” following President Tadic’s
decision not to come to the Josipovic inauguration.
Jandrokovic hoped the talks would be relaunched soon after
the February 18 inauguration since improving relations with
Serbia remains a priority for the GoC. Jandrokovic said that
Croatia will “probably negotiate” with Serbia over the
competing genocide suits at the ICJ. However, Jandrokovic
raised concerns about the GoS’s efforts to make resolution of
bilateral problems, such as the refugee issue, pre-conditions
for Croatia’s EU accession. Jandrokovic characterized
Serbia’s role in the region as “ambiguous.” For example, the

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GoS says the right things about territorial integrity for BiH
but then works with RS PM Dodik without consulting Sarajevo,
which sends mixed messages.

¶7. (C) In reference to Croatia’s cooperation with the ICTY,
Jandrokovic noted that “four countries (Great Britain,
Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands) now understand that the
GoC is working in good faith.” He said the GoC had no reason
to hide the documents and added that “our main goal is to get
into the EU and we have no desire to jeopardize that.” Asked
about EU enlargement fatigue, Jandrokovic argued EU member
states were “positive” regarding Croatia, but many were
“negative” regarding enlargement in general. He added that
Croatia must work to persuade EU member states that the GoC
is on the level of European standards. “We are not perfect,”
the FM concluded, but the GoC would do its best to meet the
EU requirements.

¶8. (C) Speaking about Croatia’s ISAF contribution, DefMin
Vukelic said the GoC wanted to increase troop numbers in
Afghanistan but “budget cuts are making it difficult.” The
FM added that more political groundwork was needed. (For
more details see septel on Deputy Secretary Lew’s meeting
with the FM.) The Senators expressed strong appreciation for
Croatia’s engagement in Afghanistan.

Josipovic Discusses Regional Politics

¶9. (C) At dinner then President-Elect Josipovic characterized
the situation in BiH as a “big mess.” The Dayton Accords
stopped the war but also laid the seeds for a destructive
political situation. The “asymmetrical relationship” between
the three constituent peoples in BiH was a major cause for
concern. The Bosnian Croats recognize that government
structures are not working, and believe they have no
alternatives. Josipovic was critical of BiH Croats’ desire
for a third entity, however, and stated that it was “driven
by money and nationalism.”

¶10. (C) Josipovic said the international community needed to
do what it could to change the mentality in BiH. The
international presence is a significant deterrent against
violence in Bosnia. Furthermore, as long as Croatia and
Serbia made it clear they will not tolerate extremism,
Josipovic believed stability would prevail. He also
expressed the hope that the upcoming elections in BiH would
bring about positive change.

¶11. (C) On ISAF, Senator Shaheen urged that Croatian endeavor
to increase its contribution in line with increased U.S.
efforts in Afghanistan.

Mesic Supports SE Europe Joining Euro-Atlantic Institutions

¶12. (C) President Mesic thanked the U.S. for its assistance
in getting Croatia into NATO and moving the country closer to
EU membership. Mesic wanted to see all the countries in
Southeast Europe join the EU and NATO. The European project
would not be complete until Southeast Europe was part of
Euro-Atlantic institutions. The process of joining the EU
and NATO was key to improving the way people approached
political issues in the region. Senators Voinovich and
Shaheen said they shared this vision for Southeast Europe.
Mesic hoped that the global economic crisis would not stop
Euro-Atlantic expansion from moving forward.

¶13. (C) Comment: Croatian officials greatly appreciated the
visit of Senators Voinovich and Shaheen, and viewed it as an
important sign of continued high-level U.S. interest in their
country. The visit also reinforced our key bilateral,
regional, and multilateral priorities with Croatia, including
continued cooperation on regional stability, EU accession,
economic reform, anti-corruption efforts and Croatia’s ISAF
contribution. Post thanks Senator Voinovich for his
long-standing support and looks forward to working with
Senator Shaheen on the way ahead for Croatia and the region.

¶14. (U) CODEL Voinovich did not have the opportunity to
review this message.
FOLEY

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