After meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic commented on reactions to her yesterday statement which caused a stir in Croatia.
"I absolutely reject any claims heard in Croatia saying that what I said was that that freedom of movement should end and borders closed. That is incorrect, those are malicious interpretations which took my statements out of context and which aim to stop everything we talked about regarding demography," said Grabar-Kitarovic.
Her Tuesday statement in Brussels in which she described EU's freedom of movement as the biggest drawback of Croatia's EU membership due to hundreds of thousands of Croatians leaving the country since joining EU in July 2013 caused a stir in the Croatian media.
"What I really said was that the freedom of movement is one of the biggest advantages of Croatia's accession to the European Union, but that it also had a drawback, which is many people leaving Croatia. However, I also said that mobility is a good thing, that people have the right to work and study abroad," she added.
Later on Tuesday, an unnamed government source told news agency Hina that Grabar-Kitarovic's statement was unusual, and added that the population drain experienced by Croatia is both a common problem in new EU member countries, as well as an issue that the government is actively trying to tackle.
"I clearly emphasised that the people leaving are not the problem, the problem is in political structures, irresponsible politicians who deny reality, twist my words, so that they can spin public opinion away from these trends and their responsibility for them, their inaction, their lack of decision-making... towards discussing something that is absolutely incorrect," said Grabar-Kitarovic.