.

nikola grmoja.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Jure DIVIĆ / mm

Bridge party spokesman Nikola Grmoja said on Tuesday that the party's National Council had unanimously decided to continue talks on the formation of a reformist government with the centre-right Patriotic Coalition led by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) but that the party was also "leaving the door open" to talks on a non-partisan prime minister and a tripartite government with the centre-left Croatia Is Growing coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

"We voted on that decision and all 15 elected Bridge members of Parliament and members of the party's National Council agreed to continue negotiations with the Patriotic Coalition solely on the platform of a non-partisan prime minister, and to leave open the door to cooperation with the Croatia Is Growing coalition," Grmoja told reporters after a session of the Bridge National Council and Bridge members of Parliament.

Grmoja said that the National Council had discussed both the SDP's and the HDZ's proposals.

"We first discussed the SDP's position and (SDP leader Zoran) Milanovic's letter which clearly declines the possibility of cooperation with the HDZ and says that the prime minister can only be a person with political legitimacy, meaning Milanovic. They have obviously turned down both our proposals. We then analysed the HDZ's position and saw that they leave open the possibility of a non-partisan prime minister, which is an important condition for us. They also said that they were ready to accept talks with those members of the left coalition who support reforms based on the principle of competence and accountability," Grmoja said while explaining Bridge's decision.

Asked if Bridge members would tell the president of the republic today that the 15 Bridge members would form an alliance with the HDZ, Grmoja answered: "We are not going (to the president's office) with 15 signatures for the Patriotic Coalition. We have made it clear that we are about to begin talks on the formation of a reformist government with a non-partisan prime minister," Grmoja said, adding that the Bridge delegation would tell the president that they would continue negotiations with the HDZ and leave the door open to the Croatia Is Growing coalition.

Asked what kind of a joint government this was if one of the political camps was missing, Grmoja said that Bridge had not refused the third camp, namely the SDP. "The door is open to the third side," he repeated, adding that the Croatian People's Party (HNS, the SDP's coalition partner) was a special problem and the biggest burden on the SDP.

HNS member Goran Beus Richembergh has said that Bridge's negotiations are a farce and that Bridge and the HDZ are only negotiating about how to divide positions.

Grmoja said that Bridge would not support any single camp and that it had not done so. "One side is persistently refusing us, and their coalition members, notably the HNS, are scandalously insulting us," said he.

Asked if Bridge still believed that it was unacceptable for a government including Bridge to have a party prime minister - either from Bridge or from the HDZ - Grmoja said that a prime minister from Bridge was a possible option.

Asked by reporters why reforms were no longer being discussed, having been replaced by discussions about political positions, Grmoja said: "We have both agreed on reforms, and the fact that someone keeps insisting on their position and on being Prime Minister - that's not our problem."

Commenting on HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko's position that a parliamentary majority should be formed first, followed by discussions about a non-partisan prime minister, and on Bridge's position that there could be no parliamentary majority without a non-partisan prime minister, Grmoja said this should be dealt with as a single issue.

"We have been insisting from the beginning that this be dealt with in a package. We will not constitute the parliament, cause unnecessary costs for the state and citizens, and give MPs year-long salaries without forming a clear parliamentary majority. If the parliament is not constituted, we will have a new election," said Grmoja.

Latest news

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for "The Truth" with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.

Trump blasts Mexico as top diplomat holds talks in Mexico City

US President Donald Trump expressed ambivalence about the US relationship with Mexico as he blasted the country Thursday for what he claims is an unfair trade relationship.

Croat accused of rioting at UEFA 2016 game goes on trial

The trial of Ivan Vucenovic, 21, accused of causing rioting during a European soccer championship match between Croatia and the Czech Republic in Saint Etienne, France last June, began at the Sibenik Municipal Court on Thursday.

Schools blocked, 26 arrests in Paris protests against police abuses

Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Paris on Thursday in protests against alleged police brutality, with local media reporting that 16 secondary schools were forced to shut.

Aid agency: 13 dead among dozens trapped in Libya container

The bodies of 13 migrants were found along with dozens of survivors trapped inside a transport container in Libya's western town of Khoms, an aid agency said Thursday.

Strike grounds hundreds of Alitalia flights

Employees of loss-making Italian airline Alitalia walked off the job Thursday after government-mediated talks failed to break the deadlock, causing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights.

Bosnia requests review of ICJ judgement that exonerating Serbia

Bosnia and Herzegovina's legal counsel Sakib Softic on Thursday submitted a request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, for a review of a judgement in the genocide suit against Serbia.

Frljic: Warsaw play big hit, ascribes criticism to conservative repression

The media have reported that Polish prosecutors on Wednesday began investigating Frljic's play, which the Catholic Church and the conservative community in Poland have called "blasphemous".