First Deputy Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Tomislav Karamarko said on Saturday that the fact that he was the only candidate for HDZ leader was a confirmation of his work and victories at all elections held in the last four years.

"The fact that I am the only candidate will probably discourage some of our members to turn out for the vote, but I see the 30,000 signatures in support of my candidacy, six times the necessary number, as a very clear expression of their confidence in me and I thank them for it," Karamarko said in an interview with the Vecernji List daily ahead of elections for the party's leader, scheduled for Sunday.

It will be the first time that an HDZ leader will be elected on a one-member-one-vote basis.

Karamarko said that he would have preferred more candidates for the post because constructive debates during campaigning would probably have spawned other political ideas as well.

Karamarko said that in his capacity as First Deputy Prime Minister he would attend the official commemoration for the victims of the WWII Jasenovac concentration camp, scheduled for April 22. "As First Deputy Prime Minister I will attend the official commemoration in Jasenovac and once gain publicly condemn all totalitarian regimes. I will also appeal to the generations to come to be smarter that those that left us the legacy of Jasenovac and Bleiburg," he said, noting that he had not visited Jasenovac before because while in the opposition he had never been invited.

"I think we should express our respect to all the victims equally," he said when asked why he thought it would be good to commemorate all the victims of totalitarian regimes on the same day.

According to people close to him, that should be August 23, the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes.

"The victims deserve our respect regardless of which totalitarian regime was responsible for the suffering of innocent people. To pay tribute to all victims on one day means to reject ideological divisions and accept that all victims are equal in pain and respect," he said, adding that this does not mean that specific dates commemorating victims and mass execution sites should not be marked any more.

"We should mark August 23 as a day when we are united in condemning the worst human evil and that is taking a human life in the name of a political ideology," Karamarko said.

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