Enron deal runs out of energyIn the wake of talks at Enron's headquarters in Houston, Texas, First Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granić announced this week that the Jertovec power plant deal has been cancelled, adding that Enron will retain the right to build a power plant in a future deal "in accordance with market standards."
Under the new agreement, Croatia will take the next two years to carry out internal reforms in the energy sector, at the end of which Enron will have 90 days to indicate whether it wishes to sign a five-year deal to construct a new plant at either Jertovec or Osijek.
Meanwhile, Croatian Electricity Board (HEP) director Ivo Cović announced this week that under the terms of the deal, HEP will continue to purchase unspecified quantities of electricity from Enron at an un-stated fixed rate for the next 18 months, after which Enron will have to bid to meet Croatian demands on the free market. (Jutarnji List, HRT, Globus)
Questions about gay slays in Split
A recent edition of Feral Tribune has raised questions about the church-state relations in the wake of four unsolved stranglings in Split. All four victims, Feral reports, were of "different ages and professions," linked only by their association with the city's gay community. The paper's Vladimir Marijanić speculates that the profession of the fourth victim, Catholic priest Petar Blagić, caused the police to step back from their investigation.
HDZ still bugging opponents?In an exclusive report, Nacional's Berislav Jelinić reported that an ultra-right wing faction of former President Franjo Tuđman's Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) have stolen "sophisticated wiretapping equipment" from the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), which is now being used for surveillance of the offices of the President Stipe Mesić, Prime Minister Ivica Račan and other government offices and ministries.
Quoting "those in the know" and "sources close to the Minister of Defence," Jozo Radoš, the Nacional report claims that the stolen equipment includes night vision cameras and classified audio and video recorders of US origin now being used to fuel an "underground intelligence network" to help support HDZ activities.
Ivanišević "satisfied" with ICTY visitIn the wake of his first visit to the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, Minister of Justice Stjepan Ivanišević said last weekend that the ICTY's Claude Jorda will ask that the UN Security Council withdraw a motion threatening Croatia with sanctions as a result of non-cooperation with the Tribunal.
"The demands for full cooperation with the Tribunal have been met, and it is normal that that request for sanctions be annulled," Ivanišević was quoted as saying at a press conference Friday.
In between meetings with prominent Croatian prisoners held at the Scheveningen detention facility, Ivanišević held a series of talks with Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte and Tribunal President Jorda. Among the issues discussed were Croatian proposals for compensation packages for any persons acquitted before the Tribunal and to limit pre-trial detention to a maximum of six months.
The issue of transferring presidential and Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS) documents to the Tribunal remains a sticking point between ICTY and Croatia. While del Ponte has acknowledged the receipt of several thousand documents pertaining to the former HVO (Bosnian Croat Defence Forces), Ivanišević said that the transfer of presidential and former Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS) documents has been "temporarily halted."
The minister noted that the restructuring of the HIS, the transfer of all HIS files to the State Archives and "necessarily more strict" declassification procedures had resulted in the temporary halt.
Ivanišević and del Ponte also discussed the ICTY's special inquiry into the shelling of Dubrovnik, where the government is particularly interested in the prosecution of Serb rebel leader Milan Martić, and the dispatching of a four-member Croatian team to The Hague to discuss investigations into the Ahmići massacre in Bosnia. (Večernji list, HINA)
Croatia to apply for full NATO membershipIn a statement released to HINA late last Friday, 9 June, Minister of Defence Jozo Radoš announced that Croatia would apply for full NATO membership this coming fall. Radoš said Croatia had made particular progress on many of the preconditions for membership, highlighting in particular efforts to enshrine civilian control of the military. (HINA)
Anti-fascist legislation pendingHuman rights groups finished the week even, scoring two wins and two losses in the nation's ongoing confrontation with ultra-nationalism.
Losses came as Split city council voted Monday 12 June to name a city square after late president Franjo Tuđman, and on 8 June when local ultra-nationalists in Slunj held a ceremony to commemorate Jure Frančetić, a prominent member of the Ustaša movement during the Second World War.
Meanwhile, the Split council also voted 12 June to remove Mile Budak's name from a local city street. Budak, wartime Ustaša minister of education, is widely credited as having coined the phrase "one third we shall deport, one third we shall convert, and one third we shall kill" in reference to Croatia's Serbs.
The Slunj ceremony was strongly condemned by Prime Minister Račan's Social Democratic Party (SPD) and local human rights groups. On Tuesday, Račan announced in Zagreb that the government is preparing a bill banning the use of fascist symbols and imagery throughout the country, particularly at rallies. (Jutarnji list, HRT)
"Door open to Brussels""The doors of Brussels are wide-open to Croatia today," was how Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Drobnjak characterised a vote by the European Union's Council of Ministers approving the European Commission's recommendations to start negotiations on Croatian membership in the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe and EU association.
Portugal's Jaime Gama was quoted by HRT as saying that negotiations could begin as early as this fall, providing the two sides exchange proposal packages by the end of July. Meanwhile, talks between the EU and Croatian working groups preparing the packages opened Wednesday in Zagreb. (HINA, HRT)
Economic stimulus?A bill designed to increase Croatia's attractiveness to international investors unanimously passed its first reading in the Sabor's House of Representatives Wednesday. Minister of the Economy Goranko Fižulić, fresh from talks with investors in the UK and Ireland and the Enron renegotiation in Houston, said the bill would place Croatia "in a position of advantage" over "other countries in transition such as Hungary or the Czech Republic."
Fižulić said that record unemployment and Croatia's lagging export sector continue at the root of the country's economic problems, which he said could only be solved by opening Croatia to foreign investment. Under the bill considered by the lower house, the government would establish real-estate and job creation funds, providing partial matching funding to enterprises that invest at least HRK six million (USD 760,000) in opening new business ventures in the country.
The funds are designed to lower exceptionally high real-estate costs in some parts of the country while reducing profit and payroll taxes. (Jutarnji list)
Arkan still makes for good copyŽeljko "Arkan" Ražnatović may be dead, but the erstwhile assassin for hire and leader of the paramilitary "Tigers" continues to make for good copy throughout the Balkans. In an exclusive investigative report this week, Globus outlined links between the Croatian military and Ministry of Internal Affairs, Arkan, the Sicilian Mafia and the Israeli Mossad (secret intelligence service) in a series of arms deals to replenish dwindling Croatian stores beginning around Christmas of 1991.
Choking under a United Nations arms embargo, middlemen allegedly acting for the Croatian government struck deals with the Israeli Mossad to secure Eastern European arms suppliers, and with the Sicilian Totorini crime family to safeguard an Adriatic transport route. Detailing the complicated routing of funds and weapons -and the spread of the trade to Bosnia prior to the outbreak of war- Globus notes that by summer 1992, the Adriatic routes had become "suspicious" and were in danger of being closed down. Croatian arms procurers then turned to Serbian irregular troops, including Arkan and his Tigers, who, in search of profit, sold excess weapons and arranged larger deals through third parties.
While rumours of inter-party weapons trading have long abounded, the Globus report is unusual for its use of conclusive, newly unearthed documentary evidence.
Volleyball at The HagueOn his recent trip to the Hague to discuss cooperation between Croatia and the ICTY, Justice Minister Stjepan Ivanišević met with high profile Croatian internees - but not with Mladen "Tuta" Naletilić.
Ivanišević said, "Tuta did not refuse to meet, but said he was too busy with his volleyball games."
Patrick FitzPatrick, 17 June 2000
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