oleg butković-hdz.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Miljenko KLEPAC/ ua

After two-hour talks on Thursday between representatives of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Bridge reformist coalition on reforms on which Bridge makes its support for the new government conditional, it was said that a high degree of agreement had been reached with regard to the need to declare an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic.

"We have reached a high degree of consensus and agreed that we will both support a decision to declare an exclusive economic zone. Our position is that its declaration is of interest to Croatia. I would also like to recall that our party's presidential candidate, who is President now, also advocated in her election campaign an exclusive economic zone," Oleg Butkovic of the HDZ told reporters after the talks in the HDZ offices.

He recalled that Croatia adopted a decision to declare a Protected Ecological and Fisheries Zone in 2003, in 2008 it suspended its application to EU member-countries, and in 2013 a Croatian Party of Rights - Ante Starcevic party member of Parliament proposed declaring an exclusive economic zone.

"The Zoran Milanovic government absolutely rejected the proposal. After that, Croatian member of the European Parliament Ruza Tomasic raised the issue of declaring an exclusive economic zone and we saw that the then commissioner said that Croatia could opt for such a solution but that fisheries and joint fishing is something we have to agree on with other EU members," said Butkovic.

His party colleague Miro Kovac, too, agreed that the HDZ was in favour of declaring an economic zone in the Adriatic. "We will step up our activities on the foreign political front as well, we have shown that we are self-confident, we know what we want and we have that legal obligation," said Kovac.

Bridge and the HDZ also agreed on the need to reform election legislation. "Citizens want changes in that area as well. They have made it clear that the election law should be changed too, we have agreed that the political system must be more transparent, more democratic and more attractive to our citizens... and enable the participation at the highest level of all citizens in the political life," Kovac said.

Asked if the HDZ would agree to reducing salaries of members of Parliament and their number, Kovac said that they "agree with changes, but will explain everything in our written replies to the colleagues from Bridge."

Robert Podolnjak of Bridge repeated that Bridge wanted a smaller parliament and proposed downsizing it to 111 deputies.

The issue of voting of the Croatian expatriate community is regulated by the Constitution and there is no logic in restricting the number of diaspora MPs while the total number of MPs varies. "The issue of the diaspora is more dominant than it deserves to be and you cannot implement a single change of the Constitution without that issue cropping up as important for a party to negotiations. We don't have a definite position on the matter, but we would like a public debate to involve all sides. Diaspora voting is not regulated well, we have also discussed postal voting, many countries have postal voting and we don't see any reason not to introduce it here as well," said Podolnjak.

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