The Bridge party leader and a Deputy Prime Minister, Bozo Petrov, said on Saturday that at this moment he could see no reason for the replacement of Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) chief Dragan Lozancic, with whom he had talked and added that "clear arguments for such a move must exist, if that happens".

"I think that the dismissal of the SOA head can happen, only if there are two signatures (by the head of state and by the head of government), and at this moment, Mr. Lozanicic has not yet been relieved of his duty, although the president has made that move on her behalf," said Petrov in an interview with the Croatian Radio.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has relieved Dragan Lozancic as Director of the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) for violating the Security and Intelligence System Act, the President's Office announced in a press release on Friday. The President told the SOA Director that he no longer enjoyed her trust.

On the other hand, asked by the press if he would replace the (SOA) chief Lozancic, Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Friday afternoon that he would decide about the right time for that together with the president. And later on Friday, the government told Hina that Oreskovic would decide on the president's initiative to replace Lozancic next week.

During his interview with the radio, Petrov said that he had held talks with Lozancic as he had wanted to get acquainted with all the developments.

"At this moment I cannot say that I have noticed anything that would, in my opinion, hint at reasons why he could not any longer perform the duty of the SOA Director."

The Prime Minister should now decide about that and I believe that the PM has more information than I might have had, and therefore I believe that the PM will make a good decision next week, Petrov said describing Oreskovic as a person who respects arguments and facts and does not hasten in making decisions.

As for calls for the dismissal of Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic, including the request from the Wiesenthal Center due to his comments on Croatia's history, Petrov said that "today it is clear to everyone that there is a clear distinction between the Anti-Fascist Resistance, anti-Fascism and totalitarianism that ensued. The state system during the (Ustasha-led) Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was totalitarian, the Anti-Fascist movement was necessary as response, however, the period after that produced certain repercussions, unfortunately some of which have been lasting even after Croatia gained independence," Petrov said.

Asked about claims from some of those who oppose Hasanbegovic's appointment that he is incompetent for the culture minister, Petrov said that he would not say that Hasanbegovic lacks competence for that post.

As for the funding of non-profit media, Petrov said he was not in favour of total cessation of funding, but he pointed to Croatia's high public debt and budget deficit, which was why "some rigorous criteria must be applied in certain matters." 

Regarding latest frequent proposals in the public about lustration, Petrov said there was no need for that, expressing fear that such a move would deepen divisions in the society.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.