tomislav karamarko.jpg
Photograph: Hina / Denis CERIĆ /dc

First Deputy Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Tomislav Karamarko said on Tuesday that PM Tihomir Oreskovic's appeal for tolerance in public dialogue was addressed to those who were making statements about "us and them", whereas people in the government had a more responsible job to do than wage wars on the public scene.

"I think that it should be known who the message was addressed to - to those who spread around stories about 'us and them'. We, who work on staffing the government with competent people have more important things to do than wage wars in the media and in public," Karamarko said in Kutina where he attended an event marking the 26th anniversary of the establishment of the local HDZ branch.

"Someone has promised a pact on the public scene and I can see that we are in that scenario. I resolutely dismiss that and that kind of dialogue," the HDZ leader said, dismissing accusations by Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic that he was responsible for the level of public dialogue in Croatia.

"Absolutely not. What bad thing have I done to be described as such?" Karamarko asked, noting also that he had never said that those who were against the HDZ were against Croatia and that his words "are taken out of context."

"I only pointed to the importance of the HDZ in the last 25 years of Croatia's history. Why do you expect me not to say that the HDZ is the biggest Croatian political party on which a lot of things depend in this country? That was the intention (of my statement), rather than to equate the party with the people... This people consists also of those who are not in the HDZ, who do not think like we do and we all recognise and accept them," he explained.

Asked about the SDP's claims that Croatian Television worked for the HDZ, Karamarko said that the public broadcaster was financed with subscription fees and that as the president of the HDZ he had the right to comment on its work.

"HTV is not a public service, it is in the service of one party, one political camp and I don't think it's good. Let them invest their money in a project and support whoever they want, but this we all pay together," he said.

Asked when the new defence minister would be appointed, Karamarko said that his name would be known in a day or two.

He also said that many deputy and assistant ministers would be known at a government session on Wednesday, after which reforms would be launched.

Asked if the prime minister would sign the replacement of Security and Intelligence Agency chief Dragan Lozancic, Karamarko said that the question should be put to the prime minister but that he believed the process "is developing positively."

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