The Bridge (MOST) party and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) on Monday talked about finances, the budget and the tax policy and after the talks Bridge negotiator Ivan Lovrinovic expressed satisfaction with the fact that both the HDZ and the Social Democrats (SDP) were aware of the difficult situation in the country and that both parties were very much interested in changes.

"We regret that the two parties failed to understand the need for changes sooner. However, better late then never," Lovrinovic said after the three-hour talks. He also said that Bridge had introduced a novelty in the negotiations with the HDZ and the SDP -- their negotiators asked more questions than they were asked, so that they could more easily make their final decision at the end of the negotiations.

Lovrinovic said that both parties had promised to voice their opinion in writing by the end of the week about all items discussed at today's negotiations.

Lovrinovic also said that Bridge was particularly happy with the fact that both the HDZ and the SDP agreed it was necessary to promote the use of the national currency in all domestic transactions. He added that the negotiations also focused on the position of the Croatian National Bank (HNB) and the need to adjust the central bank's activities with the principles of the European Central Bank. Lovrinovic also said Croatia would have to intensify its communication with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He denied speculations that Bridge was prepared to make "monetary experiments", stressing that his party wanted the "Europeanisation and not the Balkanisation" of banks' activities and the HNB. Lovrinovic also said Bridge expected banks doing business in Croatia, whose owners are in Italy or Austria, to treat their clients in Croatia the same way they treated their clients in their countries.

Lovrinovic declined to answer whether after today's negotiations Bridge was closer to the HDZ or the SDP, saying that this decision would not be made based only on one segment and one reform and stressing that the analysis of the negotiations would be completed in two to three weeks.

HDZ's economic expert Goran Maric said his party today proposed to Bridge a debate on several other economic problems on which Bridge has not yet voiced its opinion -- the health and pensions systems, concessions, amendments to the law on profit tax, income tax and Value Added Tax.

Maric said Bridge and the HDZ agreed that Croatia had too many unnecessary agencies.

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