Croatia’s Zoran Milanovic said the bombing of civilians in Gaza went beyond self-defense
Having the Croatian Foreign Ministry fly an Israeli flag was “idiotic” and inappropriate, President Zoran Milanovic said Friday, noting that the deplorable atrocities by Hamas did not give Israel the right to bomb civilians for revenge.
“I think it was an idiotic move, for all my sympathies for Israel – which they unfortunately wasted after 15 minutes – after the horrors and massacres by Hamas,” Milanovic told reporters who asked him about the flag incident.
“I condemned the killings [by Hamas], and expressed my horror and revulsion, but the right to self-defense does not include vengeance and killing civilians,” he added.
Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israeli bases and settlements near Gaza on Saturday, killing over 1,300 Israeli citizens, according to the latest figures from West Jerusalem. Israel has declared war on the Palestinian group and bombed Gaza with artillery and aircraft, vowing to “dismantle” the Hamas leadership.
At least 1,900 Palestinians, including 614 children and 370 women, have been killed in Gaza over the past week, according to the latest figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry. Some 7,696 were injured, the ministry added.
Milanovic, a Social Democrat, has often clashed with the Croatian cabinet, which is led by the nationalist HDZ. He explained his objection to the flag gesture by citing protocol.
“Other flags have no place in Croatia, unless in strictly regulated circumstances,” the president said. He added that he would lower the banners of NATO and the EU – which Croatia joined in 2009 and 2013, respectively – “slightly” below the national flag in his office, “just to show that the Croatian flag is a step above them.”
The former foreign minister, who assumed the presidential post in 2020, has gained notoriety in both the EU and NATO by going against conventional wisdom on many issues. In June, he said the “Glory to Ukraine” slogan repeated by many Western officials was no different than that of the WWII Croatian allies of the Nazis, which he denounced as harmful for Croatia’s image.
Earlier this year, Milanovic insisted Croatia was not at war with Russia and criticized the German decision to send tanks to Ukraine. He also criticized the EU’s treatment of member states like Poland and Hungary, and accused Brussels of treating Croatia like a “retarded” child.