Croatian President Calls on Trump and Putin to Show Responsibility for Global Stability

By 16 July 2018

ZAGREB, July 16, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has expressed hope that her American and Russian counterparts will show responsibility for global stability and the trans-Atlantic relationship when they meet in Helsinki on Monday.

"I'm really hopeful that the two state leaders will show enough … responsibility for global stability and the trans-Atlantic relationship," Grabar-Kitarović told The Associated Press in Moscow on Sunday.

She met Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Sunday before attending the World Cup final between Croatia and France.

Putin and US President Donald Trump held their first bilateral meeting in Helsinki on Monday.

Grabar-Kitarović said that the two leaders should remember they were the guarantors of the whole world's stability. She expressed concern about Russian interference in southeast Europe, where Moscow has sought to use its economic influence and powerful energy sector to counter EU and NATO outreach.

The AP said that the Croatian president shrugged off Trump's aggressive behaviour with NATO allies at a meeting on Wednesday and Thursday. "It's about his personality. I don't take it against him," she said.

Grabar-Kitarovic insisted on the importance of talking to Russia instead of isolating it. "We want to have a dialogue about common threats to our security. We have to work together," she said.

"Grabar-Kitarović steered clear of sensitive issues, such as the pro-Ukrainian sentiment among some Croatian soccer players at the World Cup that has angered the tournament's Russian hosts," the news agency said. "Sports brings people together. People in all of our countries are tired of ideological differences, of going back into the past all the time," the Croatian president said.

Grabar-Kitarović noted that one reason the Russia-US relationship is of "utmost importance" to her region and the broader world is so "we never ever see again" massacres like the ones carried out during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

The AP noted that Grabar-Kitarović used her country's surprise success on the soccer field to raise its profile. "She posed in a red-and-white chequered team jersey on social media posts at every opportunity, gave Trump a team T-shirt when they met at NATO, and joined Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron in the rain on Sunday night to congratulate France's team one-by-one after their victory."

In the interview, the Croatian president sympathized with Trump's rationale for assailing European allies at the NATO summit in Brussels for not spending enough on weapons and their own defence. "Certainly, it's not fair that the United States is carrying the burden for the defence of Europe. We're first and foremost responsible for our own security," Grabar-Kitarović said.