Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman has come under fire and faced accusations of “violence” and a lack of knowledge about diplomatic protocol following an uncomfortable attempt to kiss his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock. The incident occurred during a group photo of the participants of an EU ministerial meeting in Berlin, and clips of the incident quickly went viral on social media.
In the video, Grlic-Radman can be seen grabbing Baerbock by the hand and attempting to kiss her, but she moves away and avoids his lips. German tabloid Bild described the incident as a “smooch attack” on Baerbock by her Croatian colleague, noting that she turned away quickly to avoid being kissed. Bild claimed that the embarrassing situation arose because Grlic-Radman arrived late for the photo, after all the other ministers had already exchanged kisses. Baerbock’s team explained to the paper that it was simply a clumsy attempt to quickly greet each other.
The failed kiss caused outrage in Croatia, with leading newspaper Jutarnji List running a headline that read “Shame” and calling for Grlic-Radman to apologize to Baerbock. Croatian women’s rights activist Rada Boric criticized Grlic-Radman’s behavior as “highly inappropriate,” stating that Baerbock was clearly caught off guard by such intimacy.
Former Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor took to social media to condemn the incident, writing, “Forceful kissing of women is also called violence, isn’t it?” Ivana Kekin, a member of the Croatian parliament’s committee for gender equality, criticized Grlic-Radman for lacking diplomatic skills, knowledge of protocol, and basic etiquette.
In response to the backlash, Grlic-Radman apologized, stating, “If anyone saw something bad in this, then I apologize.” However, he downplayed the significance of the kiss, explaining that they always greet each other warmly, as a warm human approach to a colleague.
This incident comes in the wake of FIFA’s decision to suspend former Royal Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales from the sport for three years over his kissing a female player on the lips during the celebrations of Spain’s victory in the Women’s World Cup. Rubiales faced a sexual assault probe and resigned as head of Spanish football following the incident, but he maintains that the kiss was consensual.
The incident between Grlic-Radman and Baerbock serves as a reminder of the importance of respecting personal boundaries and adhering to diplomatic protocols in professional settings. It highlights the need for individuals in positions of power to be aware of their actions and the impact they can have on others.