Croatia's caretaker Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic on Monday held talks with the elected parliamentary deputies representing ethnic minorities and after the talks Milanovic told the press he was confident he had the support from all eight minority deputies but that he still did not have the support of 76 deputies necessary to form a government after the Croatian election for the 151-seat legislature.
"Ethnic minority deputies voiced their opinion on the support in a pretty affirmative manner, I believe we have it, but let us wait a day or two," Milanovic told the press when asked if his coalition enjoyed the support of all deputies of the ethnic minorities.
He added that his government had cooperated well with minorities in the past and that his was confident that the cooperation could be even better in the next term.
Elected parliamentary deputies representing ethnic minorities met in the parliament on Monday, with the representative of the Italian minority, Furio Radin, saying afterwards that they were "generally inclined" to support the Social Democratic Party (SDP)-led Croatia Is Growing coalition in forming a parliamentary majority and government, and that a decision on whether they would confirm their support with signatures would be made after some of the minority MPs consulted with associations that had nominated them.
Milanovic stressed that most of MPs representing ethnic minorities were re-elected to another term in office which showed that their communities were satisfied with the work of their deputies and cooperation with the government so far. "This also shows that we do not devour our partners and that whoever is in a coalition with us lives and breathes," he added.
Asked how many seats is the SDP-led coalition Croatia Is Growing short of to be able to form a majority in parliament, Milanovic said that regardless of the support of ethnic minority MPs, his coalition would need the support of the Bridge party. "I am more modest and more realistic than my political rivals, I need, we need the support of the Bridge party," he stressed.
Milanovic said he was optimistic and announced that the talks with the Bridge party would focus on four sectors, "We will form a negotiating team and, I am confident of that, we shall reach an agreement with the Bridge party as a single political group, because this is a reality now and this is responsibility," he added.
Asked if he could come to the consultations with the President of the Republic next week with the necessary 76 signatures of parliamentary deputies, Milanovic sad: "I hope so, but I cannot claim that with certainty because that would mean that I am breaking up Bridge deputies and this simply is not the concept at this moment."
We want to talk, we are close to this number, but until we get there I will not claim that we are, Milanovic said adding that forming a government was a process that lasted for weeks and months, but in Croatia this period will be much shorter.
The country should continue on the part of reforms that have been carried out and those that are yet to be carried out. Results are visible. Growth in this quarter will be better than anything before. I don't know exactly how big this growth will be, but it will definitely be better. This is the result of the government I was at the helm of for the past four years, we have been obstructed a lot, had it been up to them nothing would have been done. We suffered many blows, but I do not wish to go into this right now," he added.
Milanovic said he would not personally attend negotiations with the Bridge party as he did not deem that as necessary. "I think we have many quality and deeply competent associates for those areas. This is an inner group of people comprising the SDP, the Croatian People's Party (HNS), the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) and other partners if they wish to join."
Asked if the support of ethnic minority deputies would influence the Bridge party's decision on who to give its support to, Milanovic said he was confident that Bridge was a firm and unified party. "It suits us that the Bridge party's position is unified," Milanovic said.