The leader of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Tomislav Karamarko, on Monday submitted to the party's central election commission 30,004 signatures for his candidacy for party president, underlining that he wanted to additionally strengthen the HDZ.

"The party has achieved a certain level in the last four years, but I want more. I'm not happy," Karamarko told reporters after submitting his candidacy for party president at the HDZ offices. 

He said that in the next four years he would renew the party leadership and grassroots, underlining the importance of young and competent people. He added that he would focus on the implementation of the HDZ's economic platform, made in cooperation with the German IFO institute.

Asked if it was good for the party that he was the only candidate for its president, he said that in the last elections, in which party delegates had voted, he had defeated five candidates.

"The HDZ has 220,000 members, the number of signatures needed for a presidential candidacy is 5,000 and we will see if anyone will collect that many signatures."

Asked if the ruling coalition has sufficient support in the parliament for the budget proposal for 2016, he said that he expected the support of more than 82 MPs. "We have a majority in any case."

Commenting on an amendment put forward by the Bridge party and the HSLS party, the HDZ's coalition partners, that a part of the budget funds intended for political parties be reallocated for science, he said that a compromise would be found.

"We will find a compromise so that funds for political parties remain at last year's level. But we cannot make any further cuts in funds for political parties because we won't be able to function," he said, noting that no one had responded yet to his proposal that state officials' and MPs' salaries be cut by 25%.

Commenting on the selection of the head of the Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA), he said that delaying the process was not good, and noted that if the best candidate was chosen, he would be satisfied.

He also said that PM Tihomir Oreskovic was familiar with the two candidates he had proposed for that post.

The HDZ leader said that he would insist on competent, professional and politically independent staff at the Ministry of the Interior.

"If some people loyally served the SDP in the previous government's term and abused parts of the police system, they no longer belong there. That is my position, regardless of who they are. I will insist on that," he said, adding that he would definitely discuss that topic with Deputy PM Bozo Petrov and Minister of the Interior Vlaho Orepic.

He also noted that Minister Orepic "got carried away" when he said that it was good that the Bridge party participated in the government because otherwise all the power would be in Karamarko's and the HDZ's hands.

Asked when he would meet with Kreso Beljak, the newly-elected leader of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), which is a member of the HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition, and if he expected any problems with that coalition partner, Karamarko said that he did not expect any problems.

"Our relations with that party are strong. The HSS is a part of the Patriotic Coalition and that is functioning well," he said.

Elections for the new HDZ president will be held on April 17 on the principle "one member-one vote".

Related stories

Tomislav Karamarko sole candidate for HDZ leader

Petir support's Plenkovic's invitation to HSS to join HDZ

Karamarko says has many credible signatures of support

HDZ official says Bridge remains HDZ's key strategic partner

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.