The First Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Tomislav Karamarko, on Wednesday dismissed a possibility of early elections, saying that relations between the HDZ and its junior partner in government Bridge were "very good" and that this government had a future and would be successful.

Speaking in an interview with the HRT public television channel, Karamarko said he did not regret forming a government with Bridge. "This government has a future. We need to talk a lot, be patient with each other and trust each other, which is very important," he said when asked if an early election would be a better solution.

"We are a heterogeneous group, we are not a coalition. We cooperate and our negotiations are sometimes exhausting, sometimes they stop, but so far we have resolved all the problems that we had," he added.

On the subject of reforms, Karamarko said that the aim was to find the most competent people to implement them. "We are still within agreed time frames, and important reforms are being launched."

Asked to comment on the message he had addressed to Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic via Facebook on Tuesday and whether it was a political warning as was widely seen, Karamarko said: "The prime minister became a prime minister based on an agreement between Bridge and HDZ, and as long as we work on reforms and are effective in that regard, which I expect us to be, our trust is absolutely guaranteed. If reforms do not materialise or are not genuinely implemented, all this will become questionable."

Commenting on the appointment of the chief of the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA), he said: "The problem is that (the appointment) took too long, which may have been detrimental to security. We all expected pehaps a more democratic process. We are a specific government and the present constellation of political forces is specific and unprecedented in Croatia and requires a lot of patience, a lot of discussion, understanding and trust in decision making."

Explaining why it was necessary to reorganise the intelligence system and the Ministry of the Interior, Karamarko said that there were indications that during the term of the previous government a part of the system had been used for party purposes. "No party should be allowed to use the state apparatus for its own purposes," he stressed.

Asked to comment on a forthcoming HDZ election which would be held for the first time on a one-member-one-vote basis, Karamarko said that he would have liked that there had been more candidates for the post of leader than just him because he was confident that he would have won anyway.

"I received 30,000 signatures from people who gave them of their own free will, and 5,000 would have been sufficient. I see this as a recognition of the four years of our victories," Karamarko said.

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