The president of the Bridge party and Deputy Prime Minister, Bozo Petrov, on Monday said he was bothered by a statement by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic that recently replaced chief of the Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA) Dragan Lozancic was former prime minister Zoran Milanovic's 'personal intelligence officer', adding that this statement should be backed by evidence or it should be retracted.

"That claim bothers me because if you are going to state something like that then you have to bring things out into the clear. You cannot accuse someone without presenting clear evidence because that casts a big slur on someone like Mr Lozancic who perhaps may not be guilty. If that person is guilty then I would like to know that they are guilty. I don't know what happened. I can only hear about it from the stakeholders, however, if there truly is evidence about such accusations then the least that can be done is conduct an inquiry and prove it or in the end retract that statement," Petrov said in an interview with Radio Dalmatia.

Petrov also spoke about relations within the government and with the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). Asked if he made a mistake by entering the government with the HDZ, Petrov answered in the negative. "I wouldn't say that I made a mistake because the other side, that is the Croatia is Growing coalition, acted the way they did. That was a method of elimination, after we had given both sides an opportunity to form a government with them. We are currently cooperating. We aren't married to each other and I hope that we have the same interests - to implement reforms," he said.

He is convinced that in the first three months in government a good job has been done in preparing the state budget and reforms, however the problem arises when rationalisation which affects politicians' perks is mentioned in parliament. "Then you get either passive or active resistance resulting in the HDZ and the SDP agreeing in parliament that they won't do that...things come against a hitch when it refers to their pockets," Petrov said.

Petrov said he had received information that at a meeting last week with the HDZ, Bridge was asked to allow HDZ to be in charge of the police directorate and police anti-corruption office (PNUSKOK) as well as that Croatia backs out of the the arbitration with the Hungarian MOL oil company regarding INA.

I would like the other side to say if this is what they asked. If so, then I have to add that an ultimatum isn't the way. Setting ultimatums, blackmailing about something that was agreed to from the beginning to be raised now and changed by ultimatum. I don't think that will pass, he said.

He added that Bridge was prepared for elections from election night already. "Our advantage is that we did not enter into politics to earn money from it. We entered into politics to change things and if citizens recognise that and give us their vote, great, we will work for them. If they prefer the SDP, the HDZ and some other party, let them choose," he said.

He added that he did not think there would be a re-shuffle in the government and parliamentary majority or that a new election would be called. We need to be reasonable and careful because if a new election is called because we were given a clear message from the European Union in that regard and credit rating agencies which clearly said what would happen if political instability continued. A lot would be put on the line in that case and I think that someone would have to be very daring and risky to do that just to satisfy certain interests, he said.

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