Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Bridge leaders Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov told reporters on Tuesday they spent the afternoon in talks with Prime Minister-Designate Tihomir Oreskovic, saying the government would be formed and start working with the current 20 ministries, that changes would be made only after an analysis of the state of affairs, and that ministers' names would be known next week.
The current state of affairs should be analysed and after that a plan will be made, Petrov said. "We know a reorganisation should be made, not just on the level of ministries, but on the level of state offices, organisations, agencies as well as on the level of local self-government and regional government. We support their (the HDZ's) initiative for a reorganisation and I think it will be done much better... I've never felt any pressure from them that this be done immediately. I expect this will be done over the next six months and we expect that real implementation will be within two years."
With regard to keeping the current number of ministries, Karamarko said the new government must do this because it must get to work. "We can't waste time on that until what we plan to do over several months is achieved. We must start working, it's time to work."
Karamarko said yesterday's talks with the Bridge party were good because they agreed on the government's make-up, "but we need time. We can't do anything in 15 days."
He said Oreskovic was acquainted with everything and that next week they were expected to discuss ministers' names and decide on them together.
Asked about Bridge's position on a proposal to set up a holding of public enterprises, Petrov said this would be discussed after the government was formed.
Asked if media reports were true that Bridge and the HDZ were fighting for the Interior Ministry, Petrov said his party had clearly stated its preferences because of the experts it had and the reforms it wanted to implement. "I don't feel there's any fight. I think I don't seem angry."
With regard to Bridge's insistence to run the Interior Ministry, Karamarko said it was absurd to focus on that ministry at a time when the country was "maximally economically endangered." He said there was no fight about the ministry and that quality people would get a chance. "Our colleagues from Bridge and the Patriotic Coalition will propose (candidates). There are some ministries for which they will propose candidate first and we will accept or not. And vice versa."
Karamarko said the talks with Bridge were proceeding in a very good tone and atmosphere, and that one must understand the occasional "different tones" because some people said some things in defence of their parties' interests. "In the end, the most important thing is what Petrov and I say."
Asked about public statements and ultimatums by some Bridge members in which they said that they would either get the ministries they wanted or there would be an early election, Petrov said he did not agree with ultimatums. "I don't think it's in order to talk about ultimatums during negotiations, but we know what our preferences are."
Since a meeting between the two parties' working groups, unofficially scheduled for 2pm today, was not held, reporters asked about the pace of new meetings. "I can say that we meet on a daily basis... All official meetings between Bridge and Patriotic Coalition teams will be officially announced," Petrov said.