The Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) on Thursday expressed concern about reports of possible political trading in positions in state-owned companies, saying that such companies needed to be depoliticised and professionalised.
The organisation said it had stressed several times already that management of state property should be exempt from political influence.
"State companies must be depoliticised and professionalised, and at all levels, from top down, only competent and qualified people must be employed rather than those who are politically or otherwise suitable or close to someone. In that regard, we believe that representatives of ethnic minorities should not be allocated posts on the management boards of state companies based on political arrangements," HUP said in a statement.
"The state must ensure equal opportunity for all its citizens and no member of any ethnic minority should be prevented, on the grounds of their ethnic background, from being hired for a job for which they are the best candidate based on their competence, knowledge and experience," it added.
HUP urged all political stakeholders who will form the new government to take account of candidates' competence and proven ability to carry out complex tasks when appointing them to political positions in state administration.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday after consultations with the President of the Republic on the formation of the new government, Milorad Pupovac, deputy leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) and elected representative of the Serb minority in the Croatian parliament, said that it was natural that representatives of the Serb community should be present in state-owned companies such as the HEP power company, Hrvatske Sume forest management company and Hrvatske Vode water management company.
He went on to say on Thursday that the ethnic criterion should not be an obstacle to hiring, noting that the statement he had made after consultations with the President did not mean that the SDSS was demanding ethnic quotas in negotiations on government formation with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).