zoran milanović.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic sent an open letter to the Bridge reformist party on Wednesday urging them to continue talks on the formation of a new government and stressing that he was ready to discuss the possibility of Bridge leader Bozo Petrov being nominated prime minister-designate.

The SDP is of the view that the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) did not meet Bridge's conditions and that it had implicitly rejected the possibility of a tripartite government with Bridge and the SDP's Croatia Is Growing coalition.

"They did not unequivocally accept Bridge's proposal regarding a non-party prime minister-designate. Quite the contrary, the HDZ leader, Mr Tomislav Karamarko, speaking after Bridge announced its decision, left open a possibility that he too might be prime minister-designate, which is completely against the conditions so far publicly presented by Bridge," the letter says.

Appreciating Bridge's call for further talks and possible cooperation with the Croatia Is Growing coalition, the SDP reiterated that over the past few days they had emphasised their readiness to continue talks with Bridge in search of a solution to the present situation, adding that now it was important to sum up the negotiating process and define a platform for further talks.

All the options for cooperation between the SDP-led coaltion and Bridge are based on the harmonised programme principles and reforms discussed to date and on the proposal for the participation of the two sides in the legislative and executive authorities.

The first option for cooperation concerns the proposal to appoint the SDP leader as prime minister-designate, in which case Bridge would nominate a deputy prime minister or first deputy prime minister, as well as a parliament speaker and ministers and other officials in several government departments which are regarded crucial for the implementation of priority reforms. Bridge said that the proposal was fair, but expressed reservations about the proposed prime minister-designate, according to the letter.

The second option is based on Bridge's position that they will not support either the leader of the SDP or of the HDZ as prime minister-designate. In that case the SDP's coalition would propose a candidate for the post of parliament speaker and a non-party or party candidate for the post of prime minister. Bridge later proposed that they too might propose a candidate for the post of prime minister, which was left for further talks.

The third option concerns "the limited duration" of cooperation. The two sides discussed a possibility that the term of the new government comprising the SDP-led coaltion and the Bridge party would be limited to two years, after which the government's performance would be analysed. In case it was successful, its term would continue for another two years, otherwise an extraordinary election would be held.

"In our opinion, the second option is the basis for our further talks, and we are ready to put forward additional proposals and ideas," Milanovic said in his letter to the Bridge party. He recalled that in his statement to the public on Tuesday he said that the position of prime minister was not the SDP's condition for cooperation with Bridge and expressed his readiness to discuss the possibility of Bridge leader Bozo Petrov being nominated prime minister-designate.

"We are also open to cooperation with all other parties and elected members of parliament subject to conditions that we have publicly stated several times. These conditions are that all the partners in this process should terminate their cooperation with members and public office holders effectively convicted for serious crimes," Milanovic said, adding that his party is not ready to cooperate with parties and MPs who in any way incite to racial, religious or any other form of intolerance or who in any way call into question the rights of minorities in Croatia.

"We are certain that Bridge too will fully insist on the fulfilment of these preconditions and will take them into account in making a final decision on the selection of partners who will participate in forming the parliamentary majority and new government," Milanovic concluded, calling on the Bridge party to continue talks with the SDP's coalition as soon as possible.

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