Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is the incumbent President of NATO member nation, Croatia. Formerly, she held the office of an Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Public Diplomacy (2011 – 2014) and Croatian Ambassador to the United States (2008 – 2011). Grabar-Kitarović was also in government as Minister of European Affairs (2003 – 2005) and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (2005 – 2008).
Early Life and Education
On 29 April 1968, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was born to father Branko and mother Dubraka Grabar. Raised in Lopaca, Grabar-Kitarović went to Los Alamos High School for final two years of secondary education.
Returning from the US, Grabar-Kitarović joined the University of Zagreb for an undergraduate degree in English, Spanish and literature. Subsequently, she moved to do a Diploma at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. Likewise, Grabar-Kitarović completed her master’s degree from the University of Zagreb in international relations.
Having always been an outstanding academic, Grabar-Kitarović also attended Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Johns Hopkins University. At Harvard, she was a Luksic Fellow.
Already 48 years old, Grabar-Kitarović is married to Jakov Kitarović in 1996. The couple has two children: Katarina (15 years old) and Luka (13 years old). Grabar-Kitarović is multi-linguist – she is fluent in Croatian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Grabar-Kitarović entered the world of Croatian politics by becoming an advisor in the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1992. The following year, she got the membership of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and entered Foreign Ministry. By 1995, Grabar-Kitarović was already the head of the North American department, and she was promoted to diplomatic councillor at the Croatian Embassy in Canada by 1998.
Following a defeat in 2000 elections, all HDZ prominent leaders were summoned back to Croatia. Hence, Grabar-Kitarović also unwillingly returned to Rijeka, but she soon went to George Washington University under Fulbright Scholarship. After returning from the US, Grabar-Kitarović was elected into the Croatian Parliament. Under an HDZ government, she got her first chance to serve in the post of Minister for European Affairs.
On 17 February 2005, Grabar-Kitarović ascended to the post of Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and played a significant role in guiding Croatia into the EU and NATO. Despite such important responsibilities in the queue, Grabar-Kitarović was unfairly removed from the post on 12 January 2008. The same year, she was declared the Croatian Ambassador to the United States. However, she had to be replaced following the accusations that Grabar-Kitarović used the governmental car for husband’s private purpose.
Soon after resigning from the post of Ambassador, Grabar-Kitarović became Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Public Diplomacy. As an Assistant Secretary General, Grabar-Kitarović had chances to visit Afghanistan and several other nations in the world. Apparently authoritative, Grabar-Kitarović was known as SWAMBO ‘She who must be obeyed’ among the colleagues. She left the office on 2 October 2014.
As Grabar-Kitarović had been an official presidential candidate for 2015 elections, she remained busy with campaigns after leaving NATO. In the first elections, Grabar-Kitarović only received 37.2% votes but still grabbed the first position. As a majority wasn’t attained, run-off elections were held on 11 January 2015. Grabar-Kitarović won the presidential election with 50.7% vote and assumed the office on 15 February as the first female post-independence President.
Within nine months of Grabar-Kitarović taking the office, European Migrant Crisis started taking its toll. After Hungary fenced its southern border with Serbia, the refugees were redirected towards Croatia which created a huge influx of around 39000 migrants. To tackle this problem, Grabar-Kitarović brought about Commission for the Refugee Crisis.
Grabar-Kitarović played a crucial role in maintaining political stability in Croatia. Following discontent among the parties on unanimously appointing a Prime Minister, she authoritatively asked businessman Tihomir Oreskovic to form a government with 30 days. Besides, Grabar-Kitarović is a supporter of same-sex marriage and a pro-choice on abortion. She believes that people should have necessary education to avoid pregnancies.
In addition, Grabar-Kitarović had made a good progress in Croatian foreign relations. She visited Iran and talked about future economic cooperation. Likewise, she was invited to Azerbaijan for a presidential visit. All of Grabar-Kitarović’s works haven’t kept her well in the opinion polls yet. She currently has an approval rating of 55%.
Trump and Grabar-Kitarović
Grabar-Kitarovic hasn’t yet had an opportunity to meet US President Donald Trump. However, she expressed her confidence in Croatia-US ties under Trump presidency. She said, “I believe that we will continue working together so as to make concerted efforts in addressing threats to security and resolve some of the outstanding issues that have been burdening the relations among southeastern European countries for years.”