Croatian PM Apologises for President’s Outburst on Ukraine

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has apologized to Ukraine after President Zoran Milanovic said it was one of the most corrupt countries in the world - and that Croatia should withdraw its soldiers from there, even though no Croatian soldiers are actually stationed there.

On Tuesday, Milanovic said: "Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, it is economically stagnating and hasn't gotten anything from the EU".

He added that Croatia "has nothing to do" with the escalating conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and that if the situation there escalates, Croatia will withdraw "every last soldier".

"As far as I know, there are no Croatian soldiers in Ukraine," PM Plenkovic responded, adding that a contingent of Croatian soldiers recently got back from Poland. He called Milanovic's statement unreal and offensive. It also looked as if "it was said by a Russian official", Plenkovic added, news outlet N1 reported.

"In the name of the government of Croatia, I would like to apologize to people of Ukraine, one of the first countries to recognize Croatia," the Prime Minister said, adding that parts of Ukraine are currently occupied by Russia, just as parts of Croatia were once occupied during Croatia's own struggle for independence in the 1990s, Croatian news agency HINA reported.

Defence Minister Mario Banozic confirmed that there are no Croatian soldiers in Ukraine.

"The closest where we have soldiers is Poland, where there are four officers, and the whole procedure of withdrawing soldiers is not that simple," Banozic said, referencing the obligations that come with NATO membership.

Milanovic has a history of off-the-cuff remarks and outbursts that have embarrassed the centre-right government.

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