The new Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic took over the office from his predecessor Zoran Milanovic on late Friday night after the parliament approved the Oreskovic cabinet by 83 votes to 61, with five abstentions.
Oreskovic, accompanied by Deputy Prime Ministers Tomislav Karamarko of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Bozo Petrov of the Bridge party, arrived at the Banski Dvori, the government's headquarters, for the takeover ceremony a few minutes before the midnight.
"Challenges are ahead of us, and my team is ready to take over responsibility and do their best to kick-start economy and enhance the living standards of Croatians," said Oreskovic, who also admitted that he had not expected that the parliamentary debate before the vote of confidence to his cabinet would last the whole day and that the dominant topic would be about the Second World War Partisans and Ustasha. However, this is a democracy, and in a democratic state some things may last longer, he added.
He, nevertheless, believes that there are more important topics to be focused on.
"I believe that citizens want some changes. I have openly communicated my opinion and I will focus on the future rather than on the past."
The former PM Milanovic congratulated Oreskovic wishing him best in the premiership. "It will not be simple. But it will be easier than four years before," Social Democrat (SDP) leader Milanovic said.
Oreskovic, born in Zagreb in 1966, graduated in chemistry at McMaster University in Canada and obtained an MBA in finance and information systems in 1991. He began his career at the Eli Lilly drugs company in Canada in 1992, where he held various positions in financing and international business. Before leaving the company, he was a director for relations with the state administration and economic affairs. Oreskovic continued his career in Canada at Novopharm, now a member of the Teva Group, as a vice president in charge of business development and specialty products as well as chief financial officer.
He joined Croatia's Pliva in 2009 as the CFO for East Europe. In 2010 he was appointed CFO for the East Europe, Mediterranean, Israel and Africa region. In 2012 he was appointed management board chairman and ran Pliva's business in Southeast Europe.
Oreskovic, whom the media describe as a technocrat Prime Minister, was chosen as a non-partisan candidate to be at the hem of the government consisting of the HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition and the Bridge reformist party.
The Oreskovic cabinet, the 13th government since Croatia gained independence, includes two deputy prime ministers: Tomislav Karamarko of HDZ, who is the first deputy prime minister, and Bozo Petrov of the Bridge party.
As for the ministerial departments, Zdravko Maric, a former state secretary at the finance ministry and executive at the privately-owned Agrokor food group, is at the helm of the finance ministry.
Miro Kovac, a diplomat and the HDZ secretary for international relations, is Foreign Affairs Minister, while Tomislav Panenic, the head of the eastern municipality of Tompojevci and a Bridge representative, runs the economy ministry.
Josip Buljevic, who was an adviser to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on defence and security affairs, is Defence Minister.
Ante Sprlje, a judge from the southern town of Metkovic, is Justice Minister and Dubravka Jurlina Alibegovic, an expert at the Institute of Economics in Zagreb, takes over the ministry of public administration.
The interior ministry is led by Vlaho Orepic, proposed by the Bridge party.
Darko Horvat of the HDZ is the new minister for small and medium enterprises and the ministers of labour and pension system and transport are HDZ officials Nada Sikic and Oleg Butkovic respectively.
Davor Romic, a former dean of the Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture, is Agriculture Minister.
In the new government's term, the tourism ministry will be headed by Anton Kliman, and the construction and zoning ministry by Lovro Kuscevic, both from the HDZ.
Slaven Dobrovic, a professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Bridge representative, is at the helm of the ministry of environmental protection.
Health minister is Dario Nakic, a former director of the Zadar Hospital, and the war veterans' affairs minister is Mijo Crnoja, a retired colonel, both from the HDZ.
The science and education ministry is run by Predrag Sustar of the HDZ, a professor at the Department of Philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka, while Zlatko Hasanbegovic, a historian from the Ivo Pilar Institute, is the culture minister.
The regional development and EU funds ministry is led by HDZ official Tomislav Tolusic, who has bee he head of Virovitica County, and the social welfare and youth ministry is to be led by Bernardica Juretic, a former head of the state office for drug abuse prevention.