Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic has expressed regret that there will be no televised debate between him and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Tomislav Karamarko, calling Karamarko's behaviour cowardice.

"Karamarko and Vaso (the nickname of HDZ secretary-general Milijan Brkic) are people who must not lead Croatia. It's time that we put our heads together and oppose this threat, because they threaten people. You don't have to compare Karamarko and me. There won't be any face-off or debate. It's cowardice," Milanovic said during a visit to the northern town of Koprivnica.

Before addressing reporters Milanovic and Finance Minister Boris Lalovac met with citizens.

Milanovic called on citizens to compare his ministers Ranko Ostojic, Boris Lalovac and Sinisa Hajdas Doncic with Brkic and people from what he called obscure milieus and secret services, candidates like Ivan Suker, Bozidar Kalmeta and other people on the HDZ-led coalition's slates who he said were charged with gravest crimes of corruption.

"Such people do not deserve to lead Croatia. Croatia is growing today, every segment of our economy is growing. Employment is growing, slowly but surely... What they left behind was a disgrace. Regardless of the fact that I love my country and am proud of it, I sometimes felt ashamed because it was led by the people I did not vote for, but nonetheless I felt bad about it."

He went on to say that Karamarko was the poorest candidate for Prime Minister in the more recent history of Europe. "Citizens, the so-called quiet majority, must prevent (Karamarko's victory)," he said.

Asked if there could be problems with the formation of the next government if MOST, a coalition of independent slates that could win a lot of votes, refused a post-election coalition, Milanovic said it all depended on how MOST would accept their responsibility if supported by the electorate, adding that he was offering them cooperation and an opportunity to show that they wanted and knew how to implement what they were talking about, which he said were similar things his coalition was talking about.

Asked about posters that have appeared in Sisak concerning Minister Lalovac and information on his birth certificate, Milanovic said: "HDZ slates are full of people who in 1987 ran for seats in the Communist Party and are today very vocal HDZ members. Those people identified themselves as Yugoslavs at the time when they were mature people. I don't care about it, I have never thought about it that way. The fact that someone is going through Lalovac's documents and checking his ethnic background in such a racist way is exactly what one should stand against. It's not only that we do not want Croatia to be such a country, such things need to be fought back. Lalovac is Croatian just as I am, and even if he were not, so what? It's base and inhumane and that makes them different from us," said Milanovic.

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.