Ambassador of Croatia to the United States: Who Is Pjer Šimunović?

Thursday, November 30, 2017
Pjer Šimunović

After a year without an envoy to the U.S., the Balkan nation of Croatia has sent a new ambassador to Washington. Career diplomat Pjer Šimunović, most recently director of Croatia’s National Security Council from April 2016 to August 2017, presented his credentials to President Donald Trump at the White House on September 8, 2017. He succeeds Josip Paro, who served as Croatia’s man in Washington from April 2012 to May 2016.


Born January 8, 1962, in Split, Yugoslavia, (now Croatia), Pjer Šimunović earned a B.A. in Philosophy, Comparative Literature, and Italian Language and Literature at the University of Zagreb in 1988. Zagreb is the capital and largest city in Croatia.


Šimunović started his career as a journalist at Večernji List, a conservative daily newspaper in Zagreb, from August 1988 to October 1990. He covered the unraveling of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe, including free elections in Poland, the Romanian Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and other events. He was then a fellow for European affairs at the Fondation Journalistes en Europe (Foundation for Journalists in Europe) in Paris, France, from October 1990 to June 1991.


Šimunović returned to Croatia in June 1991, the same month that Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. A multi-party war involving Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, and various ethnic militias ensued, leading to the deaths of at least 140,000 people by the time peace was made in 2001. Šimunović was back at Večernji List, working as a foreign affairs correspondent from June 1991 to October 1993.


Šimunović left Croatia in October 1993 to work at BBC World Service Radio’s Croatian Section as a journalist and producer, remaining until September 1998. At the same time, he earned a Master’s Degree in War Studies at King’s College London in December 1997.


Šimunović joined the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Zagreb in September 1998 as deputy head of the Analytical Department, staying until March 2000. He later explained that nearly all his journalist friends who had covered international affairs were asked to join the Ministry, “because we didn’t have one before,” and journalists covering foreign affairs were the best available experts not tainted by ties to the old regime.


He served his first foreign posting at the Croatian embassy in Paris, where he served as first secretary and counsellor for political affairs, as well as deputy head of mission, from March 2000 to September 2003.


Šimunović left the Foreign Ministry to return to journalism and to the Večernji List, working as an advisor to the board from September 2003 to February 2004. But when the Foreign Ministry asked him to return to serve as chief negotiator with NATO, Šimunović agreed. He served as national coordinator for NATO, as well as assistant minister for International Organizations and Security, from March 2004 to July 2008. Croatia entered NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 2000 and became the 28th and most recent member of the European Union on July 1, 2013.


Šimunović then left the Foreign Ministry for the Ministry of Defense, serving as director of defense policy from August 2008 to February 2009, and as state secretary for defense policy from February 2009 to December 2011. 


Returning to the Foreign Ministry, Šimunović served as ambassador to Israel in Tel Aviv from August 2012 to April 2016. He was recalled early because of a political crisis involving Dragan Lozančić, who was sacked as head of Croatia’s National Security Council.


Pjer Šimunović is married to Ruzica Šimunović, a journalist who is a visual arts correspondent for Croatian National Radio, with whom he has an adult daughter. He speaks English, French, and Italian and is the author of numerous published articles and books on political and defense topics.

- Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Meet the Ambassador: Croatia's Pjer Simunovic (by Greer Fay Cashman, Jerusalem Post)

Pjer Šimunović Croatia’s New Ambassador to United States (by Vedran Pavlic, Total Croatia News)

We Have Researched the Biographies of Important New Ambassadors, has Interesting Details (by Damir Petranović, TPortal HR) (machine translation of article originally in Croatian) 


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