Spokesman for the Bridge party Nikola Grmoja said on Monday that after the November 8 elections PNUSKOK police anti-corruption investigators had placed Bridge leader Bozo Petrov under surveillance as part of an operation of which no record was made.

Grmoja made the statement in an interview with the N1 regional television channel while explaining why his party was seeking the top position in the Ministry of the Interior, a key department in combating corruption.

Asked if the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) could not carry out the anti-corruption campaign too, Grmoja said that the past experience with the HDZ and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) showed otherwise. "We think that the citizens expect the minister to be independent, someone who will not be selective in that regard. If we see how Bridge was treated by PNUSKOK, we have indications that Mr Petrov had been under surveillance this whole time, that there was an operation of which no record was made. We think it is unacceptable to use the security apparatus, whose purpose is to protect national security and fight crime, to square political accounts."  

"Some of the things that were only discussed at our meetings appeared in the media. I don't think it was always our people who disclosed that information. I am confident that we were under close surveillance all the time," he added.

Grmoja reiterated that Bridge had terminated negotiations with the SDP-led coalition because of its attempts to win over Bridge's members of Parliament. He did not specify who had called which MPs.

"(SDP leader) Zoran Milanovic says he has CCTV footage of people who came to meet him at government headquarters. We would like to see who those MPs are, so that we know who we can count on one hundred percent," Grmoja said.

Asked if Bridge would support plans by some members of the HDZ to tighten the laws governing abortion and freezing of embryos, Grmoja said that worldview issues should not be raised for some time, but that efforts should be directed at implementing the necessary reforms. If the HDZ eventually puts forward such proposals, the Bridge MPs will vote according to their conscience, he added.

Commenting on a proposal to include the state-owned companies in a single holding company, Grmoja said that this had not been discussed during negotiations with the HDZ-led coaltion, noting that it was not clear whether its purpose would be to cut business costs or to put the state companies under control. "I don't think changes should be made at all costs without being sure what they will bring," he said, adding that Bridge's National Council would discuss all of the HDZ's proposals on Tuesday.

Grmoja dismissed media reports that Bridge had demanded the post of central bank governor for its MP, Ivan Lovrinovic, claiming that this had been proposed by the SDP coalition in exchange for Bridge's support for Milanovic as the next prime minister. He stressed that Bridge and Lovrinovic himself had refused this offer, and noted that Bridge's view was that the stability of the system should be preserved and no radical moves should be made overnight.

Grmoja said that the present way in which the government funded non-governmental organisations should be changed and their work reassessed. "We should see who does what. I think that a lot of money goes to organisations whose activities are not so important for society," he said. As for the financing of religious organisations, he cited Germany where citizens earmark a certain amount of their income for that purpose and decide by themselves whether they will support a civil society organisation or a religious community.

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