Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday took as an insult a comparison of his rhetoric with that of US President Donald Trump, saying that Trump was a rabble-rouser and that he had ruined the international reputation of the United States.
"Without the United States the world is not the same and I mean it in the negative sense. Donald Trump has ruined it all. He incites hate, he is a rabble-rouser and that's it. This is something you won't hear from the Croatian prime minister or the foreign minister, but it has to be said," Milanovic said while attending a grape harvest organised on Mt Plesivica near Zagreb for foreign diplomats, including US Ambassador Robert Kohorst, who was appointed by Trump.
As for a reporter's remark that his rhetoric resembled Trump's, Milanovic said that he considered it an insult.
"I do not insult minorities nor do I support white supremacists. What's similar there?" he asked.
"I know what I stand for and which values I advocate, and my style is much more similar to that of Joe Biden, whom I have met and talked to," said Milanovic, who on Wednesday watched the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden.
Milanovic believes that Biden, as "the poorest of senators", has "the attitude of a working-class man and Catholic willing to confront thugs of any kind."
The Croatian head of state that the coming US presidential election was the most important event in the world in the last 20 years, since the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001.
He went on to say that Biden is "a level" above US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who will arrive in Dubrovnik on Friday.
"The US Secretary of State does not have time to come to Zagreb. I have not been invited there by anyone and speaking frankly, it's better that way," Milanovic said in a comment on Pompeo's visit to Croatia. Pompeo will stop in Dubrovnik as part of his tour of Europe.
He noted that the USA was showing interest in Croatia "two days before the elections".
"Some will say that I should be careful about what I say, because they will hold it against us. But that's the only way to go," Milanovic said.
Speaking of Croatia's plan to buy military aircraft in the context of four offers, submitted by the USA, France, Sweden and Israel, Milanovic reiterated that the US offer should have priority, but added "on the condition people in the USA stay true to the fundamental values of that country" which is not perfect because it grew on slave labour and had "racist and segregationist" monuments erected in the late 19th century to remind Afroamericans that they were slaves.
"Those things in America are sick and I maintain that such an America is ten times worse place to live in than Europe," Milanovic said, adding that the USA is a country for the rich while those who are not barely make ends meet.
US Ambassador calls US presidential debate "odd"
US Ambassador Kohorst, who also watched the debate between the two presidential candidates, said the debate was very odd.
They interrupted one another too much, he said, expressing hope future debates would be better.
He would not predict the outcome of the elections to be held on November 3, but said that in the last election he had voted for Trump, who then appointed him ambassador to Croatia.