ZAGREB, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Tuesday that her invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin was still on the table, even though Croatia decided to expel a Russian diplomat, Croatian news agency HINA reported.
"It is very important to nurture economic and overall relations with the Russian Federation, as the European Union too has such a two-track approach, insisting on respect for international law as well as on the continuation of talks, as disputes can only be solved through dialogue, not conflict," she said.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was among the first foreign leaders who congratulated Putin on his election victory. During a phone call on March 22, she invited Putin to visit Croatia.
She emphasized on Tuesday that Croatia and Russia should continue talking because there are many important topics ahead of them.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Monday announced that Croatia will declare one Russian diplomat "persona non grata". It will be done as a political message of solidarity with Britain over the spy poisoning incident.
Croatian opposition parties, however, slammed the government decision to expel a Russian diplomat.
They argue that the decision is harmful to Croatian interests, especially at the time when the agreement with Russian creditors on Agrokor is being finalized. Russian Sberbank is the largest creditor of Agrokor, the biggest Croatian private firm that is in debt crisis.