The Croatian Kiss: Cultural or Controversial?

The ‘kiss attack’ Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP

THE Croatian Foreign Minister, Gordan Grlic Radman, has recently caused some controversy with his gesture of a kiss on the cheek.

On Thursday November 2, during a photoshoot at an EU conference in Berlin, Radman leant towards the German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbrock to shake her hand. In addition to this he offers a kiss on the cheek, which she accepted, if not a little awkwardly. 

The happenings were caught on camera and quickly went viral online, with the outrage at the incident spreading like wildfire. Many feminist groups were quick to criticise the Croatian Foreign Minister with one women’s right activist, Rada Boric slamming his actions as “highly inappropriate”. 

In many cultures, a kiss on the cheek is a common form of greeting. Monika Jankovic who was born and raised in Croatia told Euro Weekly News that “yes it is very common, if you know someone or if you are being friendly. Men kiss other men like this, there is nothing sexual in it”. When asked what she thought of the kiss that the German media are calling the ‘kiss attack’, she responded with “I can’t understand why it’s such a big deal, maybe it’s a cultural thing. Did the ‘victim’ complain?”

Former Croatian Prime Minister, Jadranka Kosor took to the social media platform, X, to express her outrage, writing that “Violent kissing of women is also called violence, is it not?” 

Annalena Baerbrock is said to be on first name terms with the Croatian Foreign Minister, who some are now dubbing as her ‘attacker’, and has not yet officially commented on the incident, however sources close to her have been reported to play down the kiss to German tabloids, suggesting that the German Foreign Minister will not be pressing charges. 

Gordan Grlic Radman seems to be quite baffled at all the backlash, as he told reporters “I don’t know what the problem was…we always greet each other warmly. It is a warm approach to a colleague”. 

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Written by

Jennifer Popplewell

Jennifer is a proud northerner from Sheffield, England, who is currently living in Spain. She loves swimming in rivers, talking to the stars and eating luxurious chocolate.