tomislav karamarko.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ / lsd

First Deputy Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Tomislav Karamarko said on Saturday that the HDZ did not give the Bridge party an ultimatum regarding the nomination of HDZ secretary-general Milijan Brkic for minister of war veterans, and that the European Commission's latest report on Croatia showed that the previous government had brought Croatia to the brink of economic ruin.

Speaking to reporters in Omis, Karamarko said there were no ultimatums between the HDZ and Bridge. "We always talk, negotiate. Sometimes it's not easy but we always reach an agreement," he said.

Speaking of the EC report, for which previous Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that it "isn't bad," Karamarko said the report blamed the Milanovic cabinet for not implementing the European Union's recommendations and that it showed what the Commission thought of the previous government. "Of six points and measures, they managed to implement only one, and they did nothing."

He said Milanovic "brought the Croatian state to the brink of ruin, economically speaking," and that the incumbent Tihomir Oreskovic cabinet would now have to correct the previous government's "mistakes, ignorance and inaction."

As for the EC's findings that 15,000 people had emigrated from Croatia and not 100,000 as claimed by the HDZ, Karamarko said 93,000 Croats had emigrated to Germany alone. "I don't know what the European Commission is talking about."

Karamarko went on to say that the budget for the president's office would be cut and that "everyone will get less" because the expenditures side of the state budget must be adapted to practical incentives.

Commenting on the refugee crisis, he said that with the coming of spring, increasingly more war-afflicted people would head for Europe, which he said did not have a joint plan, strategy or tactic to deal with the issue.

He said Croatia would do everything to protect its borders, citizens and security. "I'm not one of those to say that we won't deploy the army... We'll do all that's necessary to protect our borders, citizens and the security of our country, participating in all humanitarian activities that are necessary to provide for those unfortunate people."

Asked if he feared the closing of borders because of the refugee crisis and the disintegration of Europe's system of handling the issue, Karamarko said, "We must be prepared for everything."

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