Prime Minister and President at Odds over Invitation to Putin?

By 22 March 2018

ZAGREB, March 22, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday commented on President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's invitation to Russia's President Vladimir Putin to visit Croatia, saying that questions about whether the invitation was appropriate should be directed at the president.

"I saw the news a little while ago. The president obviously spoke with President Putin following her visit to Moscow a few months ago. This was probably agreed then, as far as I am aware from our talks after she returned from that visit. The call was probably made on the occasion of his re-election," Plenković said.

Asked whether he had held consultations with Grabar-Kitarović and whether he was aware that she was going to call Putin, Plenković answered, "We saw each other last night." Asked whether the invitation for a visit was appropriate at this moment considering the recent attack with a nerve agent in England, Plenković said that that was something the president should be asked.

"That's something that you have to ask the president about. She has been developing dialogue with Russia's president for some time now. This seems to be something that is in the context of their dialogue of the past few months and has less to do with recent events," Plenković added.

The European Union is divided in its opinion whether to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his re-election. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have congratulated Putin while other officials don't want to in light of the recent attack on a former Russian spy in England.

Asked whether an encounter between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could be held in Croatia, considering speculation that the meeting will be held on neutral territory, Plenković said: "Everything is possible. We hadn't thought about that yet. I saw President Donald Trump's statement after the telephone call a few days ago. We'll see, there's still time," Plenković said.