During a visit to Sisak, Milanović was answering questions from the press concerning accusations from the ruling HDZ party that he had pro-Russian views and that his statements caused harm to Croatia’s reputation.
“The dumb foreign minister visited Moscow the other day,” Milanović said in reference to Grlić Radman’s official visit to Russia on 17 January.
“What was he doing in Moscow? I would expect he went to reproach (Russian Foreign Minister Sergey) Lavrov, but no, he goes there and hands in an official invitation for Putin to visit Croatia.”
“Is he the president of the state? Does he speak on my behalf? He does not. (PM Andrej) Plenković is not the head of state and cannot play host to Putin,” said Milanović.
“So the very same Russians that you threaten and stigmatise you hypocritically invite to Croatia,” Milanović said.
The president denied having been the one to speculate that Croatian troops would go to Ukraine.
“No, it was Jutarnji List (daily) that did it, saying on its front page that NATO is looking for 1,500 soldiers” and asking if Croatia would send them, Milanović said.
“And what is that but alarming the public?”
“I never said that NATO had asked for that, I said preemptively that Croatia would not send its troops.”
“Croatia will not send troops to Ukraine, and as for Poland and Lithuania, we’ll see in the future,” Milanović said, adding that HDZ officials did not know what they were saying, did not listen to what was said, and did not read the newspaper “that is the long arm and prosthetic device of the Plenković government.”
Croatia was not liberated by NATO
Milanović went on to say that Hanza Media, the company that publishes Jutarnji List, scared the public by saying that 1,500 Croatian troops would go to Ukraine.
“Someone had to tell the public that that is a lie, so I said it.”
Speaking of the situation in eastern Europe and possible deployment of troops along Ukraine’s eastern border, Milanović said that Croatia would not promise anything to anyone unconditionally.
“That’s not credibility, that’s lack of intelligence. We’ll see what happens. If the situation escalates, our people will not expose themselves to the risk,” Milanović said, adding that ultimately, the decision was up to him.
“Either that or the two-thirds majority in the parliament, and that will never happen because people have a brain in their head and care for this country, unlike the HDZ, which only steals, insults and disgraces,” said Milanović.
“Croatia has not been asked anything yet, and should not be,” he said, repeating that Croatian troops would not be sent to Ukraine.
“If things get more complicated, the army will not go anywhere. They will be in Kosovo and in Croatia. Croatia paid too high a price and nobody helped it significantly in its struggle. Croatia was not liberated by NATO but by Croatian soldiers.”
“Croatia does not owe anyone anything to have to gamble and for (Croatians) to be sheep for slaughter,” Milanović said, recommending that his critics go to Ukraine.
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