Russia’s Choice of Diplomat Expulsion Surprises Many

By 31 March 2018

The Russian government has decided to ban a former member of the Croatian embassy from Moscow.

Instead of an active diplomat from the Croatian embassy in Moscow, Russia has decided to expel a diplomat who is currently based in Zagreb. This was a response to Croatia’s decision to dismiss one Russian diplomat from the embassy in Zagreb, reports Večernji List on March 31, 2018.

According to unofficial information, the Croatian diplomat in question is Rina Eterović Goreta, who, until recently, worked at the Croatian embassy in Moscow and led it during the period when Croatia did not have an ambassador there. She is currently the chief of staff to Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić. Interestingly, Rina Eterović Goreta’s father, Josip Eterović, is an honorary consul of the Russian Federation in Split.

After this decision, Rina Eterović Goreta must not travel to Russia in an official capacity.

As expected, Moscow on Friday announced countermeasures against the states, including Croatia, which had expelled Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with Britain after the attack in Salisbury.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had summoned foreign ambassadors during the day to hand over protest notes and communicate the measures taken. Shortly after that, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a short, but telling statement. “The Croatian Ambassador to Moscow Tonči Staničić was informed about the decision of the Russian Federation's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deny hospitality to a Croatian diplomat, a former employee of the Croatian Embassy in Moscow,” it said, not releasing the name of the person.

The Russian selection of Rina Eterović Goreta, a former employee and the current chief of staff to the minister, as well as a daughter of the Russian honorary consul, surprised many.

“This is a very strange choice,” said one diplomat. Asked about the message which Russia wanted to send Croatia – since there is no obligation for a state to explain why it expels foreign diplomats – the diplomat said that the Russian decision could be viewed in two ways. On the one hand, it is better than dismissing any of the active diplomats from an embassy, ​​especially when it is as small as the Croatian one in Moscow is. However, on the other hand, this is a person who is in a position to influence the decisions in the Croatian Foreign Ministry.

Eterović Goreta was appointed as an advisor to Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor in 2010, and she was dismissed from the post in 2012. She then went to serve in Moscow. After Ambassador Igor Pokaz left his position in 2015 due to private reasons, the authorities in Zagreb could not agree on a diplomat who would replace him. As a charge d’affaires, Rina Eterović Goreta led the Croatian diplomatic mission in Moscow for two years, until the current Ambassador Tonči Staničić was appointed.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Sandra Veljković).