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.