One Year On: a Tale of 2 Croatian President Kolindas by The Guardian

Total Croatia News


July 16, 2019 – Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic makes international headlines exactly a year after her exploits in Russia. A symbol of the change in Croatia from last year’s euphoria. 

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Something feels very wrong. 


A year ago, Croatia was throwing a party like no other, and even though the national team had eliminated my native England in the semi-final, I could not help get caught of in the euphoria of the moment. 

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic became one of the most recognised faces on the planet and searches for ‘Croatian president bikini’ skyrocketed (you can find out why here) as she hugged the players in the pouring rain in Moscow as President Putin looked on from under his sole umbrella. 

And while her performance in Russia (like most things in this country) was met with a mixed reaction back home, President Kolinda was an international hit, however, and The Guardian named her the real star of the World Cup

And just when you thought nothing could eclipse those incredible scenes, the next day Croatia did it again. Some 550,000 fans packed the streets of Zagreb to welcome home their heroes. 

Quite incredible. 

The tiny nation which dared to dream had won tens of million hearts all over the globe. Tourism chiefs were salivating at the benefits which would come from this unexpected gift. A few days later, Croatian National Tourist Board director, Kristjan Stanicic, provided an upbeat assessment of the tourism dividend for the 2019 season.

It was great to be alive, and Croatia was definitely the place to be.

And then… nothing. 

Things started to change. The football heroes of Moscow did not last long, and Croatia lost to England in the Nations Cup just three months later. 

Despite Stanicic’s upbeat assessment, media and social media reports of the 2019 season is that it is heading for disaster – Croatia certainly feels a lot emptier, and the Ministry of Tourism decided to take their award-winning, transparent tourism statistics software away from public scrutiny to delay the inevitable bad news. 

Corruption scandals dominated the domestic scene, with two ministers resigning in the last couple of weeks, with more potentially to follow. 

It just did not feel quite like the tiny country which dared to dream just a year later. 

But a year to the day since Kolinda was hailed as the real hero of the World Cup, she was making the headlines again in The Guardian – this time for very different reasons, as you can read in The Guardian piece – Croatian police use violence to push back migrants, president admits

It doesn’t quite give off the same vibes as that crazy night in Russia, does it?

A bit like many things in Croatia this summer – something is not quite right. 

When is the next World Cup again?


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