Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov said on Sunday the office of parliament speaker was very important to him, that the Bridge's guarantees would be voted on before the formation of the government, and that failure to attend sessions when laws were being adopted would cost MPs HRK 500.

Speaking on N1 television, Petrov said the parliament speaker "is one of the three most important offices in the state because we think it would not be good for democratic processes if one party held all three offices. That office can encourage the passage of the necessary reforms."

He said Bridge had not asked for the office of parliament speaker for control. "I hope the period of control is behind us because it isn't conducive to good cooperation."

Asked how the government would be formed in the days ahead, Petrov said, "We agreed at the beginning of the negotiations (with the HDZ party) to honour our proposal to first vote on (Bridge's) guarantees and then to form the government." He hopes this will not take more than a week.

He said Bridge and the HDZ had agreed that five guarantees would be voted on before the government was formed, while voting on the protected fisheries zone and the public broadcaster's licence fee would be left for later on.

Petrov said the two parties had agreed on the adoption of a law stipulating that MPs would have to be in office for at least a year to qualify for a full salary in the first six months after the expiry of their term and half a salary for the following six months.

He said the two parties had also agreed that MPs who did not attend sessions when laws were being adopted would be fined HRK 500 per session. "If that doesn't work, we will take a more radical approach... It was in our interest to show that work is being valued."

He said a law on cutting salaries in local government was a prerequisite for an integral reform of local government and that it would go into force on 1 January 2018, which would give the state time to come up with a good local government reform.

Petrov went on to say that a distraint bill was being finalised and that Bridge and the HDZ had reached "remarkable agreement" on it. "We will protect citizens facing eviction so that they aren't left without a home."

Asked if Bridge would insist against a deal with banks on Swiss franc loans, he said the talks were not bad but that they must never be at citizens' expense. "We must protect the interests of all Croatian citizens. Unfortunately, the state did not stand behind citizens when they took those loans."

Asked if the abortion law should be amended, Petrov said he saw no reason for it now.

(EUR 1 = HRK 7.5)

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