Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman has apologised after greeting German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock with a kiss during an EU meeting, a gesture that drew criticism as inappropriate.
Radman said he was not immediately aware that he had possibly embarrassed his German counterpart with the overly friendly greeting during a meeting of foreign ministers from the EU and several countries in the process of joining the EU in Berlin on Thursday.
“Maybe it was an awkward moment,” Radman said, according to Croatian media.
“If someone saw something bad in it, then I apologise to whoever took it that way.”
Due to his plane being delayed, he saw Baerbock only at the “family photo” in which all the EU ministers gathered to pose together, Radman continued.
“I don’t know what the problem was. I didn’t see it; I wasn’t aware of it. We always greet each other warmly. It’s a warm human interaction between colleagues.”
Video footage of the incident had shown Radman trying to kiss Baerbock while the “family photo” was being taken and how she quickly turns away to the side.
German tabloid newspaper Bild first reported on the incident. According to Bild, people close to Baerbock said it was an awkward attempt to greet each other quickly.
Critics in Croatia accused Radman of publicly embarrassing a top German government official and bringing shame on his own country.
“Forcibly kissing women is also called violence, isn’t it?” wrote former Croatian prime minister Jadranka Kosor, who led the country from 2009 to 2011, in a post to social media.