Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov said on Wednesday the accusations that the party was a bridgehead for someone's criminal actions made no sense, denying that there was a group within the party defining everything for the rest, and saying that a prime minister-designate would be nominated next week.
"We are inviting... all the sides to get involved in the formation of the government and to be a bridgehead against the criminal actions they are talking about. There's no better solution than getting everyone involved in controlling processes," Petrov told reporters, dismissing the accusations by Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic that Bridge was a bridgehead for the return of a criminal organisation to power.
Bridge is not defending any criminal actions, Petrov said, adding that his party was "clean... There's absolutely no stain on us."
He said that "certain individuals from some parties" had gone too far and crossed the line of good taste, notably political dialogue, by accusing others. He said Bridge does not use such dialogue.
Asked about Milanovic's statement that Petrov said at a meeting that the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) would disintegrate if it was in the opposition, Petrov said he could not remember everything he had said.
He said that both the SDP and the HDZ would not be comfortable if they did not participate in the formation of the government. "We're not burdened by the possibility of a new election (and) we won't go back on our word. If they want to work for the general well-being of Croatia, they better enter such a government and, together with us, make the changes that are essential."
Petrov said Bridge was not fighting for offices. "Over the past five weeks we have shown that reforms and the changes that need to be made come first for us."
He denied that there had been proposals to take on certain ministries, saying this had not been discussed with either the HDZ or the SDP. He said this was something to be discussed in the days ahead. "I believe we will agree on absolutely everything within the next week."
He would not name names but said the prime minister-designate would be known next week. "Bridge neither can nor would it be good for it to impose a non-partisan prime minister-designate, and this is something we should agree on. Bridge will have its proposals and I expect them from the others too, and then we'll see who is the best candidate for the post."
Petrov said Bridge did not want a coalition with any side but to cooperate in such a way that one knew what were the responsibilities of each side in government formation and the ensuing political process.
Asked whether he or HDZ chief Tomislav Karamarko would bring signatures proving a parliamentary majority to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Petrov said the prime minister-designate would do so and that he would be someone agreed with the side that accepted Bridge's path.
Petrov went on to say that he saw no deception in an affidavit signed before the parliamentary election in which he said that he would not form a coalition with either the SDP or the HDZ. "In this case we are talking strictly about cooperation, because we demand a non-partisan prime minister-designate and responsibility by department will be clearly known and that's why this is cooperation and not a coalition."
He also commented on a statement by Bridge MP Tomislav Panenic, who said that Ladislav Ilcic of the HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition was unacceptable for a joint government because of his statements against Muslim migrants. Petrov said he did not accept any exclusionary rhetoric and that Bridge could not accept a political dialogue in which someone was called a fascist or accused of being a criminal or attacked on ideological grounds.
He complained about a media campaign against Bridge. "We are changing the political rhetoric in Croatia and some don't like that." He said Bridge was made of strong individuals who joined the party to change the model of how the state was run and that no one could impose their opinions to anyone in Bridge. "There's no group within Bridge defining everything for the rest."
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