Ukraine voices ‘deep disapointment’ over Croatian president’s comments

File photo. The President of Croatia Zoran Milanovic during a NATO summit at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 14 June 2021. [Pool/EPA/EFE]

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned Croatian Ambassador Anica Džamić on Wednesday (26 January) following Croatian President Zoran Milanović’s scathing comments about Ukraine, including that it is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and does not belong in NATO.

Milanović, a former Social Democrat known for blunt and vitriolic comments, said on Tuesday that Croatia would not have a military presence in Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion and that the events in Ukraine of 2014, known as the Revolution of Dignity, were a military coup.

He also said that Europe had not done enough to assist Kyiv, and that the tensions on the Ukraine-Russia border were a consequence of the US home policy.

President: Croatia will not be involved in Ukraine crisis

Croatia would in no way get involved in the Ukraine crisis if it escalated, nor send its soldiers if that were the case, said President Zoran Milanović after visiting the Kraš chocolate factory on Tuesday.
Ukraine does not belong in NATO, …

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the Ukrainian ministry said Milanović’s statements on the events of 2014 had offended the feelings of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who had given their lives for the European future of Ukraine.

“The statements of [the] Croatian president about Ukraine’s membership in NATO as well as on distancing of Croatia from providing assistance to our country during the Russian aggression caused deep disappointment”, the statement reads, adding that such approach “stands against the general human values, taking into consideration the bitter war experience of the Croatian nation”.

“The Croatian president showed his contempt and ingratitude for the assistance that Ukraine and Ukrainians had provided to Croatia during its struggle for independence, as well as in fighting devastating fires last year”, the ministry in Kyiv goes further.

The Ukrainian side said Kyiv is convinced that “this ingratitude is his personal trait” and is not shared by the Croatian people, with whom “we are united by friendship and mutual respect”.

The Ukrainian ministry also said that Milanović’s statements “retransmit Russian propaganda narratives, do not correspond to Croatia’s consistent official position in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, harm bilateral relations and undermine unity within the EU and NATO in the face of current security threats in Europe”.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded a public refutation of “the insulting statements by the President of Croatia”, as well as “non-repetition in the future”.

The Ambassador of Ukraine is also supposed to hand in a corresponding demarche in Zagreb.

At the same time, Croatia’s conservative Prime Minister Andrej Plenković apologised to Ukraine, “one of the first countries to recognise Croatia”, after Milanović’s statements.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tweeted on Wednesday his gratitude to Plenković “for his unwavering support to Ukraine at this moment of truth”.

Plenković and Milanović are political opponents. At the EU level, Croatia is represented by its prime minister, while the president’s role is mostly ceremonial, on top of being the supreme army commander and a co-creator of foreign policy.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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