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

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) led Patriotic Coalition and Bridge party on Wednesday agreed that they would propose Tihomir Oreskovic as the future prime minister and the party's leaders Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov told a press conference that he was a non-partisan expert selected by the Patriotic Coalition among several possible candidates.

"We have agreed on the prime minister-designate. He is a qualified, non-partisan person and that is something we advocated from the onset. There were several proposals by both sides. The way we had contemplated possibilities over the past few months, so did the Patriotic Coalition. Tihomir was their proposal and after seeing which candidate would be best we decided that it would be Tihomir Oreskovic," Bridge's leader Bozo Petrov said.

HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko refuted some interpretations that the prime minister-designate "shouldn't be someone without legitimacy from the election."

"One of the pre-conditions for our cooperation was in fact a non-partisan PM-designate. In this difficult economic situation it is logical that Croatia gets an expert PM-designate who comes from the economic, financial and business world. Mr Oreskovic is an excellent professional, one of the best businessmen among Croatians and in the world and I think that he is an exceptional solution and his legitimacy is his CV which you will get soon," Karamarko said.

Today positions in the cabinet were not distributed and Karamarko explained that a "scheme has been prepared in which there will be room for anyone who will work on reforms, for all distinctive people," but he stopped short of disclosing what position he expected for himself.

"Allow us, to continue our talks about the constitution of the government and ministries. That's a huge job. It can't be done overnight. Believe me, we have come to an agreement and this entire time we are constantly repeating one thing - expertise, expertise, expertise, because Croatia no longer has the right to conduct experiments with poor personnel," said Karamarko.

Petrov too did not wish to disclose what position he would hold. He underscored that the PM-designate will have a say in the selection of people that will constitute his team.

"Expert people will be appointed to portfolios who will be nominated by us and the Patriotic Coalition. After we agree, then the person who will be leading that team will decide and participate in making that decision. We believe that that is the best way and of course the requirement is expertise as was the case in this selection," Petrov said.

"We believe that in the next 30 days we will come to an agreement on everything else. The story isn't over yet but the most important thing is that positive steps were made over the past 24 hours on both sides," Petrov said.

Asked about the fact that Bridge MPs had asked that he himself be PM-designate, Petrov said that from the onset Bridge had advocated the story of a non-partisan expert PM-designate and that at the moment what is most important is that that be a person who will lead Croatia out of the economic crisis.

Asked whether HDZ had conditioned any particular ministry, Petrov said that the main thing was that that be an expert person.

"As far as we are concerned if that means that all the experts will be defined by the other side we will agree to that. That means that that can be all or not one ministry if the other side has a better proposal, we will accept them. There won't be any division or privatisation of anything," Petrov said.

He underscored that he didn't believe that there could be a new somersault because during the negotiations with the HDZ and Patriotic Coalition over the past 24 hours good-will had been shown.

"Today we solved a huge problem. I would like to concentrate on what happened today when in peace-time Croatia two party leaders said - we don't need to be prime minister, that will be a non-partisan person because that is in Croatia's interest," Karamarko said.

Karamarko added that he did not think that Oreskovic's 'lack of political experience' was a handicap. "What does political experience mean at a moment when the country's economy is sinking? The prime minister is not alone, a government exists and it has its deputies, ministers, we have to find the best people, expert patriots," he said.

He added that the two parties would later this evening discuss the constitution of parliament which should occur soon.

President Kolinda-Grabar Kitarovic convened the inaugural meeting of the new, eighth parliament for Monday.

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