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The kiss moment: Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman leans forward, Annalena Baerbock turns away

Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP

Croatia's Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman has apologised after a kiss for Annalena Baerbock that was deemed inappropriate by the audience. He was not immediately aware that he might have embarrassed his German counterpart with the friendly gesture at a European Congress at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on Thursday. "Maybe it was an awkward moment," Radman said, according to Croatian media on Saturday. "If anyone saw anything bad in it, I apologize to whoever took it that way."

Because of the delay of his plane, he only saw Baerbock at the "family photo" with all EU colleagues, 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 cordial human interaction among colleagues.«

Video footage of the incident had shown how Radman first greeted Baerbock with a handshake during the recording of the "family photo" – and then tried to kiss her. The way he stood and leaned forward, he might have kissed her on the mouth. Reflexively, however, the German Foreign Minister had turned to the side. According to the Bild newspaper, Baerbock's entourage later said that it had been a clumsy attempt to greet each other quickly.

Among other things, the Croatian is accused on social networks of publicly embarrassing a German government politician and shaming his country. "Kissing women forcibly is also called violence, isn't it?" wrote Croatia's former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor on Platform X (formerly Twitter).

Baerbock herself did not want to comment on the events at a press conference with her colleague Jeyhun Bayramov in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on Saturday evening. In response to a question from a reporter, the Foreign Minister only said: "We didn't talk about kissing today."

oka/dpa