Prime Minister-Designate Tihomir Oreskovic said after a two-hour meeting with members of the Bridge reformist party on Monday evening that they had an open discussion on the health system and the economy and that they would work together to improve the situation in the country, underlining that he was a patriot and that he was honoured to have been given an opportunity to help his country.

Oreskovic told reporters that he and Bridge members discussed many topics, including the healthcare system and the economy, ways to kick-start the economy, regulations, administration and changes.

He added that this was his first visit to the Bridge offices but that he had met with some of the Bridge members before.

Asked by reporters if he did not find it unusual that all Bridge members supported him as PM-Designate before he had even met with them, Oreskovic said that he did not because they had been acquainted with his ideas before and that he had had talks with a broader circle of Bridge members about his views.

Commenting on a reporter's remark that people in Croatia feared the privatisation of the health system, Oreskovic said that privatisation was not the only solution. He noted that everyone knew that he had grown up in Canada and described the Canadian health system as very successful.

"It is not a private system like the US model. I believe that our health system has potential for efficiency, that we should look to make cuts and consolidate things in that regard, and that does not mean that the only solution is to privatise the system," he said.

He said the meeting with Bridge members did not discuss which Bridge members would head which ministries.

Asked which position Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Tomislav Karamarko would fill and if he would be his deputy, Oreskovic said that he would not comment on that at present and that everything would be defined on time.

Reporters also wanted to know if he would be able to choose experts on his own and how many Croatian experts he knew who could be candidates for certain ministerial positions, Oreskovic said that this was a process and that not everything was up to him.

He said that candidates from the HDZ, from Bridge and other candidates would be proposed to him and that he would make a decision based on their competence. "It is the same as when you decide whether to hire a person," Oreskovic said, adding that he also planned to hire some people from Croatia with whom he had cooperated in the business community and whom he trusted.

Bridge leader Bozo Petrov said that one of the topics of the meeting were necessary reforms.

"What is important and what has been recognised both about Mr Oreskovic and about us is our fight for ordinary people," said Petrov.

"What has been going on for the past 20 years - ordinary people have been affected by bad changes and certain elites have remained unaffected - will now change," said Petrov.

Asked how Oreskovic had managed to convince Bridge members that his managerial experience would make him a good statesman, Petrov said that sometimes it was possible to see quickly if someone was a person with good qualities.

"Apart from his impeccable CV, Mr Oreskovic has other characteristics and virtues which Croatian citizens will soon recognise as soon as he is given the opportunity."

Reporters then asked Oreskovic why he had decided to return to Croatia and give up his high salary and when he had decided to become politically active in Croatia, to which he said: "Fist and foremost, I am a patriot. I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to return and help my people. My salary, I can say, was huge, but sometimes opportunities like this happen in life," he said.

He said that talks on his engagement started six to eight months ago, but that they concerned the field of finance.

When asked how managerial competencies can contribute to statesmanlike leadership, Oreskovic said that he believed the two things were similar.

"Leaders define their main goals, through dialogue, and once those goals are defined, I hope we will be working together. My role is to contribute with what is needed to implement those goals," Oreskovic said, adding that his business experience could be used to the maximum as could the fact that he understood how the business community outside Croatia functioned.

He said that he was hopeful that his being a part of the business community would be useful for Croatia, that it would help improve the country's rating and that that would lead to the reduction of debts and costs.

When reporters asked Oreskovic if he would improve his Croatian and started asking questions about his world view, he and Petrov ended the news conference, saying they would answer those questions next time. 

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