FM says president pitting herself against her country


Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Vesna Pusic said in an interview with Croatian Radio on Wednesday that at last week’s meeting of the Visegrad Group (V4) in Hungary President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had pitted herself against her country and that she was acting as a spokesperson for the opposition Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.

Grabar-Kitarovic’s attendance at the meeting of the Visegrad Group is not an issue, “the issue is the fact that the head of state pitted herself against her country, which is unprecedented.” The President, for example, sees no problem in the deployment of military troops on the Hungarian-Croatian border, Pusic added.

Pusic’s statement was a response to an interview with Grabar-Kitarovic in the Jutarnji List daily, in which she criticised the foreign minister.

“I don’t like to publicly comment on people, but I have to say that a lot of foreign diplomats have expressed their surprise with the fact that (Mrs Pusic), who is running for the position of U.N. Secretary General and is foreign minister in the Croatian government, can criticise the president the way she has been doing it, namely purely in line with her party policy. And how can a person who is so intolerant and refuses dialogue with the Opposition in Croatia think that she can be Secretary General of the United Nations where you have to talk to the devil himself to resolve problems,” Grabar-Kitarovic said.

The head of state said in the interview that Croatia has an incoherent foreign policy, stressing that it should focus on the EU and NATO rather than serve for the promotion of personal interests or ideological beliefs.

“Croatia’s foreign policy is clear,” said Pusic. “It has its goals, comparative advantages and its roles in individual projects. Foreign policy cannot be conducted from meeting to meeting, like ‘Now I am at a V4 meeting and it is our foreign policy, and now I am at some other meeting and that’s our foreign policy,'” Pusic said.

She added that her cooperation with the president, who is a co-creator of the country’s foreign policy, had started in a civilised manner, but as “the (parliamentary) elections are approaching, she is more and more becoming a spokesperson for the HDZ and it is very difficult to cooperate with someone who is the head of state and acts as if in the Opposition.”

Asked where Grabar-Kitarovic’s role as a spokesperson for the HDZ was reflected, Pusic said: “In her criticism of what everyone considers good – our conduct in and handling of the refugee crisis – and in her siding with Hungary in a situation where Hungary says that it will put a wall and a barbed wire fence on the border with Croatia.”