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Photograph: HINA/ Dario GRZELJ /dag

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic, who is the likeliest Prime Minister-Designate after the September 11 early parliamentary elections, on Friday held talks with the eight elected representatives of ethnic minorities, saying after the talks in the HDZ headquarters that they had agreed on the pace of further meetings and underscoring that the future HDZ-led government would like to be stable and to enjoy the support of all the elected minority deputies.

"These were the initial talks and we have formulated the pace of the meetings which will be led by Davor Ivo Stier and Zdravko Maric on behalf of the HDZ," Plenkovic said, adding that the next meeting was scheduled for Thursday.

Plenkovic said that the atmosphere at today's talks was very good and that those were people he had known for a long time.

He went on to say that the new government would honour all positive regulations and find appropriate solutions for specific minority issues that have not yet been solved.

The HDZ chief stressed that he had said at the talks that "the new government and parliamentary majority would like to have stability and enjoy the support of all eight ethnic minority deputies."

Asked by the press whether the talks had discussed the demand of Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac that HDZ member Zlatko Hasanbegovic, the culture minister in the outgoing cabinet, should not be in the new government, Plenkovic responded that they had not discussed the make-up of the new cabinet and reiterated that it was the PM-Designate who would decide on the composition of the cabinet.

Pupovac said that today's talks indicated that they could fully trust Plenkovic when it came to decisions on vital issues, including the government's make-up. Ethnic minority deputies have recognised the HDZ's openness not only for negotiations but also for hammering out an agreement, he said.

Likewise, the minority representatives have demonstrated openness and readiness to find solutions that will facilitate "a state of full normality" in the country and a stable and functional government, he added.

Pupovac is hopeful that the policy pursued by the present-day HDZ will also enable ethnic minority members to resume exercising the rights which they used to have.

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