Social Democratic Party (SDP) president and candidate for prime minister Zoran Milanovic said in Pula on Monday that no one understood why the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), in its short term in office, had stopped the construction of a new general hospital in Pula, as it "could only have profited" from it.

He recalled that his party had opened works on the hospital when it was in power. He said other projects in Pula and Istria County, launched by his cabinet, had unnecessarily been stopped and that the SDP-led coalition, when it came to power, would resume them.

"We weren't ideal but we weren't bad either," Milanovic said, adding that when he was PM, more money had been invested in road building in Istria than ever.

Milanovic said he did not like to comment on relations with other countries, notably Serbia, by trading shots with the HDZ at home. "Serbia is not the enemy but some things must be agreed together," he said, adding that the SDP and the HDZ should be unanimous that Serbia was not the enemy, "simply a state with other interests."

He also said that the eastern region of Slavonia was "the loser" of the transition, notably its impoverished farms, devastated in the 1990s war, and that the HDZ was to blame.

Asked if he planned to continue with youth employment measures if the People's Coalition came to power, Milanovic said he would. "We carried out the Youth Guarantee through internship, for which we first set aside HRK 1,600 per person, which then increased to HRK 2,400. Everyone laughed, but 60-70,000 people found a job thanks to that, acquiring the necessary experience and were hired over the past four years. Now we are raising the amount to HRK 3,000. Those are my government's active measures. There were opponents at the beginning, but now everyone accepts it as... the common good. I haven't noticed that the HDZ is against it."

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