božo petrov.jpg
Photograph: Hina / Denis CERIĆ /dc

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov on Saturday dismissed claims that a vote for his Bridge party was a vote for the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union), saying that a vote for the HDZ was a vote for the SDP (Social Democrats) and vice versa, and that the ruling HDZ and the opposition SDP got along perfectly over the past six months and that all the key decisions in parliament were made by them either by active or passive agreement.

If you consider the benefits and salaries of MPs that Bridge wanted to cut, the agreement on the Constitutional Court judges and the impeachment of PM Tihomir Oreskovic, it was the HDZ and the SDP that worked well together instead of the government, Petrov told reporters after a parliamentary session on the occasion of Croatia's Statehood Day, adding that the ministers had worked well together at government level but that the political parties had not.

Asked if Bridge would form a coalition with the HDZ after the coming election if Andrej Plenkovic was elected HDZ president, Petrov said it was pointless to talk hypothetically or interfere in other parties' processes.

"I hope the (HDZ) will elect a good leadership and that it will be a democratic HDZ, which I would recommend to the SDP too," he said.

Petrov reiterated that Bridge's condition for the survival of the outgoing government had been that Oreskovic remain PM or a new election. As for Tomislav Karamarko, who resigned as First Deputy PM and HDZ leader, he said that "if there is a conflict of interest, which was eventually confirmed, such a person... has no right to be in the executive authority. That's the standard we asked for from the beginning."

"Unfortunately, over these 25 years politicians were allowed too much, so they think everything is allowed to them because no one punished them. I hope citizens will appreciate this in the (coming) election," most likely in September.

A reporter remarked that he was not clearly dismissing the possibility of cooperation with the HDZ or the SDP. Petrov reiterated that one person was not the party and that the HDZ leadership made all the key decisions in recent weeks. "They need to change because we simply can't do anything with such leaderships."

He said it was disgraceful that a record low number of MPs attended today's session for Croatia's 25th statehood anniversary. "If they weren't willing do come today and celebrate Statehood Day, what can they give for Croatia?"

Croatia deserves much better than what happened over the past six months, he said. "I believe we will try to do proud all those who gave their lives for Croatia and those to whom Croatia was number one 25 years ago. That's what I expect of all politicians, that general interest be above all else when they become publicly active."

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