Prime Minister Plenković Surprised by Russian Criticism

By 23 November 2016

This is a lower level, and I deal with serious and responsible foreign policy, said Plenković.

Zagreb supports the Minsk Agreement whose goals for ending the war in the east of Ukraine are similar to the experience of peaceful reintegration in Croatia, said on Wednesday late afternoon Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, reacting to sharp criticism expressed by the Office of Information and Media of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry in reaction to his recent statements about Ukraine, reports Jutarnji List on November 23, 2016.

In a commentary published on Tuesday, a day after the Prime Minister, during his visit to Kiev, said that the experience of peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia in the 1990s could be beneficial to Ukraine in returning the control over rebellious eastern areas which are currently in the hands of pro-Russian rebels, the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed its concerned with Plenković’s statements.

Russian Foreign Ministry believes that “new parallel structure”, a working group formed by the Croatian government to cooperate with Ukraine and transfer Croatia's experience in the peaceful reintegration of occupied territories, will distract the attention of the Kiev authorities from fulfilling the obligations from the Minsk Agreement, which is for Russia the basis for solving the crisis which has no alternative.

However, Plenković told reporters on Wednesday late afternoon that the Croatian government supported the Minsk Agreement in 13 points. “When we compare its goals and remember the experience of Croatian reintegration process, there are a number of similarities”, said Plenković about the agreement which Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France signed on measures to end the war in the east of Ukraine.

“Our message is a message of peace, of experiences which Croatia had with occupied territories. We want to facilitate the processes so that Donetsk and Luhansk regions would be returned to constitutional structure of Ukraine, and I will say no more”, he said. Speaking about the commentary published by the Office of Information and Media, Plenković said that “it was just a statement of one department of the Russian Foreign Ministry”.

He described his official trip to Ukraine as “substantially fantastic”, and gave equal marks to the economic forum which attracted great interest of businesspeople. “I was surprised that this lower level of the Russian Foreign Ministry spoke about our experiences, confabulating, talking about the persecution of Serbs in Croatia, that we should focus on some other issues”, said Plenković. He added that he did not intend to respond to the Russian statement. That is “a lower level, and I deal with serious and responsible foreign policy. I have principled positions which are strongly supported by the entire government”, said the Prime Minister.

Asked about the fact that Croatia has not had an ambassador in Moscow for the past two years, Plenković said that the issue would be assessed by the end of the year. “This government was confirmed just four weeks ago. I am in discussions with the Foreign Minister, not just about Russia but also about many other destinations, and you will be informed about it. If there is an area where I will act more promptly than in other areas, that will be topics related to foreign policy. I think that we the very active in this area and the issue of the ambassador will be on the agenda by the end of the year.”

Russian reaction to Plenković’s statements was also a topic in Parliament on Wednesday.