Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that he understood Zadar Mayor and senior HDZ member Bozidar Kalmeta's decision not to run in early parliamentary elections set for September 11, insisting that Kalmeta's decision had nothing to do with an indictment against him.

"I understand and appreciate his decision, I believe that by doing so he has shown responsibility towards the office to which residents of Zadar have elected him directly," Plenkovic told reporters at the HDZ offices.

He commended Kalmeta's long-lasting leadership of Zadar, adding that Zadar was among the Croatian cities that had experienced major development.

Kalmeta wants to focus on his duties as the mayor, Plenkovic said, adding that he was looking forward to Kalmeta's contribution to the HDZ's campaign for a victory in the September election, confirming that Kalmeta would stay in the party's leadership and its main bodies.

When asked if an indictment against Kalmeta was the reason for his decision, Plenkovic said resolutely "No."

The HDZ president said the party would adopt its election platform on Thursday, when it would also be decided when the platform would be presented.

He said the platform would focus on economy and entrepreneurship.

The reform of the education system is important to the HDZ, it is a priority for an HDZ-led government "to increase allocations for research and development from the current 0.8% to 2% (of GDP)."

We want education to be one of the key topics of Croatia's future and the HDZ's platform focuses entirely on the future, Plenkovic stressed.

He said that the education reform would continue and that the appointed commissions continued doing their job.

When asked if he would invite Boris Jokic to return to the position of the chief coordinator of the curriculum reform, Plenkovic said that "not one individual is important" and that nobody could privatise the curriculum reform process.

"The process will continue. There are very many experts in Croatia and it is important that they become involved," said the HDZ leader.

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