Zoran Milanovic responded to criticism on his stance on Ukraine and objected to Brussels' treatment of his country
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic called out the European Union for treating its members like developmentally-challenged children, telling reporters on Friday that his tolerance for such behavior was approaching its limit.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Hungarian President Katalin Novak in Budapest, Milanovic had some choice words for EU foreign policy commissioner Josep Borrell when it came to Croatia's participation in the peacekeeping mission in neighboring Bosnia.
"Borrell sent Croatia a memo last month filled with lies, in which he treats us as if we were retarded - excuse my language, as if we had special needs - so he would prevent us from even a symbolic presence in the Althea mission. I'm trying to stay polite, but at some point enough is enough," he said.
"This kind of treatment is deeply irritating," Milanovic added. "Today they do this to Hungary, tomorrow it will be some other, bigger country they want to bring into line. They did it to Poland until recently, too. Poland now gets a pass due to the situation in Ukraine, but their turn will come again tomorrow."
Brussels has sought to compel the governments in Warsaw and Budapest to accept EU policies on migration and "rule of law" by threatening to withhold funds that Poland and Hungary were rightly entitled to.
One of the biggest problems for the EU is the way Brussels treats member states, the Croatian president insisted.
"I think Croatia and Hungary are within the framework of European values, which can't be the same for every state," Milanovic said. "If the EU wants to progress, it has to accept this diversity." The current approach by Brussels is "seriously problematic," he added, noting that it may soon be tested on a member state bigger than Hungary, which the EU won't be able to treat the same way.
Milanovic also commented on the backlash to his comment earlier this week, when he called the conflict in Ukraine a "proxy war" against Russia - for which he was complimented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"When I call it a 'proxy war' in which Ukraine is the biggest victim, and that only Washington and Moscow can negotiate its end, I am merely quoting Ukraine's current defense minister, who said NATO is fighting Russia with Ukrainian blood. But no one wants to hear that," the Croatian president said. "I won't allow us to be turned into a little dog that just goes around in a big pack and keeps barking."