Books on Croatia
% of GDP
Update No: 091- (26/11/04)
Mesic Leads Croatia's Presidential Race
Incumbent Stjepan Mesic is the frontrunner in Croatia's presidential
election, according to a poll by Nacional. 52.8 per cent of respondents would
vote for the Croatian People's Party (HNS) candidate.
In February 2000, Mesic defeated Drazen Budisa of the Croatian Social Liberal
Party (HSLS) in a run-off.
Deputy prime minister Jadranka Kosor of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is
second with 16.9 per cent. In November 2003, Croatians renewed their House of
Representatives. Ivo Sanader of the HDZ formed a coalition government with the
Democratic Centre (DC).
The list of presidential candidates also includes Slaven Letica of the Croatian
Right's Party (HSP). Football coach Miroslav Blazevic-who led the Croatian
national team to a third-place finish in the France 1998 World Cup-is said to be
considering a run as well.
The president is largely considered as a ceremonial dignitary in Croatia, but is
the commander of chief of the armed forces, oversees both foreign policy and
intelligence services, and confirms the prime minister designate after the
The election is scheduled for Jan. 2, 2005. Croatia became an official candidate
for European Union (EU) membership in June.
Outing the spooks
A massive mystique surrounds the question of British intelligence operations
in central Europe and the Balkans. The British are still widely regarded as the
most scheming and duplicitous adepts of the art of espionage. The exploits of
Philby, Burgess and Maclean have become legendary. Sir Fitzroy Maclean,
Churchill's emissary to Tito in the war, is seen as a sort of spook, although he
was in fact an accredited brigadier and military envoy, not least because he is
thought to have been seen by Ian Fleming as a prototype for James Bond.
Over the last few weeks newspapers in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina
have been exposing the identities of several British MI6 intelligence agents
operating in the Balkans.
The most important agent is, they say, Anthony Monckton, who was based in the
British embassy in Belgrade and was regarded as "the uncrowned king of the
intelligence agencies" in the Balkans. He is credited with several coups,
above all organising the kidnap of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The
Hague in 2001.
Other agents named include Gareth Lungley, first secretary for political affairs
at the British Embassy in the Croatian capital Zagreb, Christopher Looms an ICTY
employee, Julian Braithwaite, Information Director to Paddy Ashdown, who is the
High Representative for Bosnia, and Alistair Sommerlad stationed at the British
Embassy in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
The names were leaked after a major restructuring of intelligence agencies in
the Balkans. A number of agents were sidelined or fired-including Franjo Turek,
director of the Croatian counter-intelligence agency POA (Protu-obavjestajne
agencije) and Zeljko Bagic, national security advisor to the Croatian President
Stipe Mesic. They have been quick to take their revenge.
Monckton was first publicly identified as an MI6 officer based in Zagreb in a
list of 116 alleged MI6 agents that surfaced on the internet. The British Labour
government's then-foreign secretary, Robin Cook, declared the list to be the
work of former MI6 agent Richard Tomlinson. However, Tomlinson has repeatedly
denied that he had anything to do with the publication of the list.
The book Requiem for a State Secret published in February 2004 by Zoran
Mijatovic, former deputy head of the Serbian intelligence agency DB, alleged
that Monckton was Britain's leading agent in the Balkans. Mijatovic, who retired
soon after Milosevic's downfall, blames Monckton and MI6 for interfering in the
restructuring of the DB and lobbying against his reappointment.
Monckton's name did not reach a wider audience until the Belgrade newspaper
Nedeljni Telegraf-publishers of Mijatovic's book-disclosed it in an article on
August 11 2004.
In the article Serbian intelligence officials criticise Monckton for being inept
or interfering, giving as examples his inquiries into the assassination of
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic last year, spying for Ashdown in Bosnia,
not warning about the pogrom against Serbs in Kosovo in March 2004 and
blackmailing Milo Djukanovic, the prime minister of Montenegro, to persuade him
to back down on his demands for independence from Serbia.
A few days later the Croatian weekly Nacional also identified Monckton, but
added the names of the other alleged MI6 agents-claiming they were part of a
"one-year intelligence and media operation by British spies stationed in
Zagreb, Belgrade and Sarajevo" directed "against the security of the
Republic of Croatia, or rather the final phase of weakening that system and
removing those people who protected the system from the infiltration of foreign
agents, such as former POA director Franjo Turek and Zeljko Bagic, former
Another POA agent, Damir Jukica, told Nacional that he was fired earlier this
year for criticising MI6 influence. He said MI6 "as all other foreign
agents and their associates, would not have harmed Croatia if they had only
worked in the areas where the interests of both countries overlap" and
accused the organisation of "seriously compromising Croatian state
Jukica said he would have found MI6's activities acceptable if Croatia had
"become a British colony or if we had been given status similar to Bosnia,
where an international protectorate is in effect."
Even in Bosnia objections to MI6 spying operations appeared in the weekly paper
Slobodna Bosna. It complained that following Ashdown's appointment as High
Representative, the country had been "transformed into a British
intelligence protectorate and a base for the activities of British agents in
According to Slobodna Bosna in 2002, Ashdown sacked Munir Alibabic, director of
Bosnian intelligence FOSS (Federalne obavjestajno-sigurnosne sluzbe) after he
complained about the infiltration of British spies into FOSS and was replaced
with Ivan Vuksic. The paper says MI6 used FOSS to spy on investigators for the
ICTY and Ashdown's US deputy, Donald Hayes.
In June 2004, FOSS was merged with the intelligence service of Republika Srpska,
forming the Bosnian Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA) with the loss of
approximately 130 Bosniak OSA employees in what is described as a
"purification" process by the OSA's new director Almir Dzuvo.
More recently, the Serbian magazine Ekstra Magazin (September 26, 2004)
concluded, "The West Balkans region is becoming the polygon for winning
predominance between intelligence agencies from the US and Great Britain."
The magazine claimed that after European troops (EUFOR) take over from
multinational troops (SFOR) in Bosnia, the US plans to use the new NATO centre
in Sarajevo where 600 civilians work on intelligence "to pushback the
influence of other networks."
The British press has either not reported the events in the Balkans, or tried to
limit the damage blaming the revelations on "vengeful Serbs" (the
Times, August 15, 2004), "rogue elements in the Croatian, Serbian and
Bosnian security services who don't want the Balkans cleaned up" (the
Guardian August 27, 2004) or "disgruntled local intelligence services"
(Daily Telegraph, September 27, 2004).
They do not want to jeopardise the national interests of the UK that according
to the Guardian, has been "particularly active in the Balkans on the
MI6's over-riding objective, it is said, is to protect and promote British
economic and political interests in the face of greater economic penetration by
its rivals. The Croatian Embassy in the US reports, for example, that the US,
Germany and Austria each invested approximately one billion US dollars in
Croatia between 1993-2000, whilst Britain invested only US$102 million.
Another major concern is Britain's international credibility; Prime Minister
Tony Blair has promoted the ICTY as an expression of his so-called ethical
foreign policy. However, the tribunal is beset with problems.
None of the charges of organising genocide-for which the western powers demanded
military intervention-have been proved so far. Instead Milosevic has
successfully used the tribunal to indict the Western powers for their own role
in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. The US administration has insisted
that the ICTY prosecution complete all its cases by 2008 and all appeals by 2010
and yet the three most-wanted suspects-Croatian General Ante Gotovina and
Bosnian Serb leaders Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic-are still fugitives years
after their indictments. An additional blow for the prosecution is the recent
reduction of the 45 year sentence given to Bosnian Croat general Tihomir Blaskic
to nine years and his imminent release from prison.
Whatever the claims, counter claims, black propaganda or misinformation that run
through the MI6 spying scandal one thing is clear. Compliant governments of
nominally different political persuasions in the Balkans are following the line
laid down by western financial and political institutions and the intelligence
agencies must be made to do likewise, in the view of the western powers.
Does Exposure mean Checkmate
A Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) government headed by Prime Minister Ivo
Sanader came to power in December 2003. The HDZ was founded by the nationalist,
racist and anti-Semite Franjo Tudjman in 1989, the year he became president of
the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the
western powers lost interest in the unity of Yugoslavia which they had viewed as
a bulwark against Soviet expansion and came to regard Yugoslavia's old,
centralised state structure as an obstacle to the privatisation of state-owned
industry and the penetration of western capital.
The German government and later the US and other European governments pushed for
the rapid recognition of Croatia after Tudjman announced the country's
independence in 1991. Tudjman became a western ally in limiting Serbia's
influence in the Balkans and received support from the US and Germany in the
1992-1995 civil war in Bosnia, enabling him to conquer large sections of
northwest Bosnia, driving out hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs, living
there. The ICTY have indicted General Gotovina for "command
responsibility" for war crimes carried out at this time.
The HDZ was in power throughout this period, losing elections to a Social
Democratic-led coalition in 2000. When Sanader's HDZ regained power last year,
unemployment stood at 18 percent, average family income remained at $100 a week
and the public debt had soared. During the election campaign Sanader claimed to
be remoulding the HDZ as a German Christian Democrat type party and offered
voters a signed "Guarantee Card" promising tax cuts, increased
economic growth, living standards and employment and accession to the European
Union and NATO. Some HDZ politicians suggested a referendum would be held on
whether Gotovina should hand himself over to the ICTY.
The European Union and the IMF are now demanding further cuts to social benefits
and economic liberalisation in return for more loans. The government must drop
promised increases in pensions, wages and allowances to disabled war veterans,
increase utility prices, reduce labour legislation, rapidly privatise remaining
state companies and lift barriers on imports of agricultural products from the
Since coming to power Sanader has declared he will fully cooperate with the ICTY
as demanded by the EU. He arranged the surrender to the tribunal of six Bosnian
Croat leaders of Herzegovina-Bosnia, a region that attempted to secede from
Bosnia in 1992 and two generals Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac.
He used the evidence of former Croatian police chief Ranko Ostojic that
"the police would have long ago arrested General Gotovina, but was being
obstructed by the counterintelligence agency and the Office of the
President" to begin his purge of the POA.
Soon after, Sanader apparently gave MI6 freedom to roam throughout Croatia for
two months in order to track down Gotovina. He told new POA chief Josko
Podbevsek to provide the agency with two offices and the names of Gotovina's
associates and allow MI6 to bring in three surveillance vans to discover the
location of mobile phones and then track them by satellite. It is said the scope
of the operation was so large that even Sanader and President Mesic were
cautious about using their mobile phones.
With MI6 granted free access to Croatia, both ICTY Chief Prosecutor Carla del
Ponte and British Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane optimistically announced
Gotovina would be in custody by the end of June 2004. MacShane added that the UK
would withdraw its objections to plans for Croatia's EU membership in 2007
saying, "Gotovina no longer remains an obstacle. Croatia can start
Instead Gotovina remains at large and MI6 operations in the Balkans have been
Many leading members of the HDZ and army officers consider Gotovina a national
hero and are increasingly bitter at Sanader's cooperation with the ICTY. The
EU's attempts to make Croatian membership of the organisation conditional on
compliance with the ICTY and further economic restructuring is backfiring. A
poll by the Institutit Puls polling agency shows support for the EU has fallen
from 72 percent in January to 49 percent now.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Croatian minister, Chinese official discuss trade cooperation
A Croatian delegation headed by the minister of the economy, labour and
entrepreneurship, Branko Vukelic, recently visited Shanghai, China's most
important business and trade centre, the Economy Ministry said in a statement,
HINA News Agency reported.
On the third day of his official visit to China, Vukelic met the president of
the Shanghai Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Cen Furong, and
the vice-president of the Chinese People's Political Consultation Conference,
Vukelic mentioned successful cooperation between Zagreb and Shanghai, which will
celebrate 25 years of friendly relations in 2005.
Cen Furong said that the cooperation could be enhanced by China using Croatian
ports for the transport of its goods to countries in the region and by Chinese
firms investing in the Croatian economy.
The Croatian delegation ended its visit following a tour of the Jin Qiao export
production zone, a part of the Pudong industrial development zone where some 500
foreign firms are present, the statement said.
Croatia, Serbia PMs vow to settle outstanding issues
Croatia and Serbia are determined to settle their outstanding issues - and some
agreements the two sides are negotiating could be ready by November, Croatian
Premier, Ivo Sanader, said in Thessalonica, Greece on October 21st, after talks
with his Serbian counterpart, Vojislav Kostunica, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
"We are determined to settle outstanding issues, primarily humanitarian
ones, bilaterally," Sanader said, announcing he would visit Belgrade
officially for the first time in November.
"The normalisation of relations between Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro
has no alternative. The wounds from the past definitely have to be healed but,
without forgetting the past, we must focus on the future," Sanader said.
Sanader and Kostunica met for the first time in Thessalonica, where they
attended the eighth dialogue between the Orthodox Church and European People's
Parties (Christian Democrats). The Croatian premier announced that an agreement
on the protection of national minorities would be signed during his Belgrade
visit, saying: "It would be a big step forward in bilateral
In Belgrade, the two leaders discussed issues for protecting minorities within
their populations, unsolved border issues, refugee return and restitution of
property, and economic cooperation. The visit of Sanader that is to take place
in November will be the first meeting of the two countries' representatives at
prime minister level.
Zagreb and Belgrade, former foes that fought each other when Croatia broke away
from Yugoslavia in 1991 to become independent, have been working on
normalisation of their relations.
However, there are many outstanding issues that burden their relations,
including refugees, missing persons, war crimes and return of property,
according to dpa.
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