Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president and First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko said on Saturday that the government would know how to protect national interests in the INA oil company, "regardless of malicious persons' imputations".

"Enhancing the energy policy is of strategic importance to us. Croatia should continue to develop the production, processing, and transport of oil and gas, which it can't do without INA, which was, is and will be our strategic company. This government will know how to protect Croatian national interests in INA, regardless of malicious persons' imputations," Karamarko said at an HDZ electoral convention.

He said an LNG terminal on Krk island was a key strategic project. "Both our government and party are interested in the realisation of that strategic project with the assistance of our allies from the US."

In his report to delegates, Karamarko said the government's next steps would be a socially sensitive fiscal reform and a more active monetary policy expected of the central bank. He added that a demographic revival was also a strategic issue.

"It's absolutely clear that a demographic revival is the long term key to the stabilisation of the pension and healthcare systems, contrary to those who humour people by railing against a more expensive supplementary insurance. We won't and can't fall for any platitudes. We agree that we must economise, but the problem can't be solve by economising alone," he said.

He said it was already possible to examine criteria for pension amounts and savings, and reallocate funds for the most vulnerable groups.

Speaking of the defence system, he said the new international circumstances forced the state to start as soon as possible with general military training, whether through conscription or differently. "The defence of the homeland is not just a right but a constitutional duty too. Also, the doctrine of relying only on professionally trained forces has deprived the Armed Forces to a certain extent of their general social role, which we must restore."

Karamarko said that on the foreign policy front Croatia would no longer give in to any regional interests. "We are finally acting as a full member of the EU and NATO, ready to promote our interests, but also respect are obligations as partners. Unfortunately, for many years and in many places we had diplomats who took more care of themselves and foreign interests than about Croatia. That's why there's an urgent need for personnel solutions which will not be only about a career, which is important, but patriotic too, which is even more important."

He once again stressed that the HDZ had rejected every totalitarianism and that it would not allow links to Nazi or communist crimes.

"In the spirit of its responsibility, the HDZ will contribute to putting an end to divisions on that issue. To put it briefly, we want to close the chapter on World War II," he said, suggesting the establishment of a Croatian WWII documentation centre "to finally establish all the victims of the war and post-war period and to establish where and how they were killed. This isn't politicising nor escaping to the past, but every victims is entitled to respect."

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