EU official sparks backlash after awkwardly trying to kiss colleague during photocall

‘I don’t know what the problem was... We always greet each other warmly’

Barney Davis
Sunday 05 November 2023 12:33 GMT
Croatia foreign minister's awkward EU summit kiss causes controversy

This is the awkward moment an EU minister tries to kiss another diplomat during a photocall at a conference aiming for closer European ties.

Croatian foreign minister Gordan Grlić-Radman was seen shaking hands with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock before leaning forward to kiss her in front of the world’s media in Berlin.

Ms Baerbock is seen turning her head to avoid the kiss, before he makes contact with her cheek.

He has been criticised in some Croatian media reports, with women’s rights activist Rada Boric describing the incident as “highly inappropriate”.

But Grlić-Radman moved to defend himself, telling reporters: “I don’t know what the problem was... We always greet each other warmly. It is a warm human approach to a colleague”.

Ms Baerbock has so far not made comment on the awkward exchange which German media have nicknamed “Kuss-Attacke” or the “kiss attack”.

Mr Grlić-Radman denied he had intended to embarrass his German counterpart by being overly friendly.

“Maybe it was an awkward moment,” he said. “If someone saw something bad in it, then I apologise to whoever took it that way.”

Croatian feminist Rada Boric blasted the minister’s gesture as “highly inappropriate”, adding that “warm greetings” should happen only among those whose relationship allows kissing.

“It’s clear that such a relationship doesn’t exist here and that the (German) minister was left surprised with such closeness,” Boric told the Jutarnji List outlet.

The furore came days after Luis Rubiales was banned from all football-related activities for three years after kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips in the aftermath of Spain’s Women’s World Cup final victory.

Luis Rubiales had refused to directly apologise for kissing Jenni Hermoso (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The former president of the Spanish FA, who was forced to resign from his post in disgrace after Hermoso said the kiss was not consensual, was ruled to have breached Fifa’s disciplinary code under the section of “offensive behaviour”.

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