Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Tomislav Karamarko said in Split on Saturday that during the outgoing government the HDZ was belittled and humiliated, but that only now would one see who was a thief.

He was speaking at a ceremony marking the 26th anniversary of the HDZ's Split city branch.

"No one will bring the Croatian state into question ever again. The HDZ is now the strongest and the most important Croatian party. Four years ago we were losers and now we are winners because even a relative victory is a victory," he said. Speaking of the November 8 election night, he said, "I must admit that I slightly feel that some of the methods which are immanent to our political opponents weren't applied."

Karamarko said that under the outgoing government the HDZ was belittled, humiliated and accused of being a criminal organisation, but that one was about to see who was a thief. "Time will show who the thieves are. Our people are in court and they are on trial. The HDZ has cleansed itself and time will show what happened over the past three and a half years. You'll be surprised."

Karamarko said the government the HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition was creating with the Bridge party would be a good one and that it would protect Croatian values. "We are negotiating with those we believe think like us because the starting point and the task of all tasks was to stop (the outgoing) government from continuing to exist and destroying Croatia."

He said the Patriotic Coalition had been flexible, neither underestimating nor insulting others. "That's why I said, I don't have to be prime minister. Isn't Croatia's prosperity more important? The most important thing is to do greater good for Croatia, which we can accomplish with our friends from Bridge," he said, adding, "What's the position of prime minister or a minister in relation to Croatia's interests? Nothing."

He went on to say that the Patriotic Coalition's election victory was crucial because it stopped processes and people who wanted to downplay everything and say "what's the point of Croatia? ... They caused damage to Croatia and rudely wanted another term in office, but we will never let anyone play with Croatian values again."

He recalled that HDZ candidates held two key offices - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner. "We have a prime minister-designate, an expatriate and a man of international qualities. We have made a strong statement - clean patriotism, but expertise too and, very importantly... connecting Croatians abroad and at home."

Karamarko went on to say that every method was being used to obstruct the agreement between the Patriotic Coalition and the Bridge party. "All media are putting their backs into proving that (the agreement) is not good."

He also said that by creating and defending the Croatian state the HDZ had fulfilled its first historic task and that now it had another, to guard and rescue the Croatian state.

He said the outgoing government had wanted to break everything that was patriotic and that pushing for national values had been met with accusations of nationalism and a return to the past.

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