Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said on Thursday that because of President Zoran Milanovic's statements about Ukraine, he had to call nearly every one of his counterparts and apologise.
Milanovic said on Tuesday that Ukraine did not belong in NATO, that it was one of the world’s most corrupt countries, that president Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in 2014 in a military coup, and that the crisis on the Ukraine-Russia border was a consequence of the US home policy.
Ukraine issued a strong response and Milanovic’s statements were reported by world media.
“We are appalled. I, as minister, have indeed a heavy burden and responsibility because of the ambassadors, who have been besieging me, asking what to say and how, how to communicate,” Grlic-Radman told the press.
“I have to call nearly every minister and apologise, say that what Milanovic said is not the government’s official position.”
He said there was allegedly an initiative in Ukraine to declare Milanovic persona non grata.
“I think the Croatian state doesn’t deserve such behaviour” from the president, the minister said, “the Croatian state created with the blood of Croatian defenders, which was led by the visionary first Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, who would certainly turn in his grave were he to hear such a narrative.”
He said this was an attempt “to destabilise the Croatian authorities” and that it had caused Croatia “big reputational damage” in the international community.
Ukraine is not the first state with which Milanovic has managed to “make Croatia quarrel” as ambassadors have been summoned because of his statements also in Bulgaria, Austria, Hungary, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, he added.
Grlic-Radman expects of the president “a constructive policy, one which will promote peace, stability and cooperation, send positive, affirmative messages, which will result in cooperation with other presidents and which will contribute to the further affirmation of Croatia’s foreign policy.”