The leader of the Bridge party, Bozo Petrov, said on Monday that during negotiations with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)-led Patriotic Coalition his party would seek ministerial positions in six ministries - Interior, Justice, Administration, Economy, Agriculture and Environment.
"These are the ministries for which we have experts and we know what needs to be done for things in Croatia to truly function better. We will continue to insist on that," Petrov said after a three hour meeting of the party's National Council ahead of negotiations with the HDZ.
Asked what if the HDZ insisted on any of these ministries, he said: "We will talk. I think we are in for a week of negotiations and I believe we will reach an agreement."
He would not disclose the names of possible ministers. "We are now discussing names. All our members will have the opportunity to propose experts. However, at this time it would not be good to disclose names because we have agreed that we will discuss these with the Patriotic coalition and PM-Designate," Petrov said.
Petrov said that the National Council had discussed some key points that Bridge wishes to implement in some of the ministries.
"Today we discussed some of the key points we wish to implement within the portfolios that we wish to lead because we know exactly what needs to be implemented. We will not back down from them and will insist on them in the negotiations. We are meeting with the Patriotic Coalition today and they will propose their model of the government they support. We will see what that entails. I hope that the talks will be constructive and then we can meet again and decide whether we will head in that direction or make certain changes or perhaps defer them, but I do not wish to forecast anything because we are not familiar with their proposal yet," he said.
Petrov would not comment on the HDZ's announcement that it would propose reducing the number of ministries, because, as he said, he had not seen the entire proposal yet. "We haven't had an opportunity to hear the entire proposal. We need to see what it contains and how that might function," he said.
Petrov underscored that the Patriotic coalition has to back up any possible proposal for the economy or finance ministries to be headed by someone from Agrokor or Privredna Banka Zagreb as is being speculated in the media. "I think that all the proposals have to be supported and explained on our part and theirs and then after that we can say whether a certain person is competent and acceptable."
Commenting on the possibility of merging some state agencies, Petrov said that Bridge had always advocated a rational public and local administration and that mergers have to be analysed thoroughly.
"We agree to reducing the number, merging or removing some agencies but on the basis of an analysis that needs to be conducted. Six months ago, some very good analyses were released as to how to reduce and solve the budget. It's not clear, however, what they were used for. There are good instructions what should be done and how. All that is required now is political will and that's why we embarked on all this," he said.
Petrov did not believe that HDZ was dictating the pace for Bridge with its proposals. "I wouldn't put it that way. They have their model, something they worked on. On the other hand, for five weeks we spoke about reforms. We had more than a hundred pages of various proposals for each portfolio that need to be conducted. We achieved what we wanted to, we agreed with both sides and now it's up to them. They have their proposals and I believe that it's fair to hear out the other side, just like they listened to us," he said.
Asked if a new election was possible in case an agreement was not reached, Petrov said that a new election was always a possibility. "The option of a new election is always open if two sides don't come to an agreement. However, I would like to believe that we have not spent all this time in vain. I hope that there is good will on both sides and that we can come to an agreement," he said.