Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday that the HDZ would begin talks with other parliamentary parties on Tuesday to form the new government.

"We want the political parties to fulfil their basic duty in society, that institutions function normally and effectively for the benefit of citizens rather than for their own benefit," Plenkovic told a press conference after a three-hour meeting of the HDZ National Council.

The HDZ National Council has decided to conduct negotiations on the formation of the new government based on the HDZ's election platform which is focused on the future, the economy, competitiveness, jobs, demographic policy, social justice and the inclusion of vulnerable groups into society in the best possible way. It is on this platform that a task force has been set up for talks with other parliamentary parties to form the new government, Plenkovic said.

The task force will be led by Plenkovic. He expressed confidence that the HDZ would manage to form a stable government within time frames defined by the constitution and law.

Asked what position the HDZ would take on demands set by the Bridge party, Plenkovic congratulated Bridge on its performance, but noted that the HDZ was a convincing election winner and that it would enter into talks with other parties from that position and on the basis of its electoral platform. He added that some of the Bridge's seven demands could be acceptable, while some required detailed negotiations.

Plenkovic ruled out any possibility of a grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), saying that that was out of the question. Asked if he considered forming the government without Bridge, he said that all would be clear in the coming days.

"We are going into this openly, very transparently, with the aim of forming an effective government. The National Council includes ministers who have experience cooperating with Bridge and a few of us who have less operational experience but who are ready to write a new page of cooperation, which requires two sides," the HDZ leader said.

He reiterated that it was natural that a party that was a clear relative winner of an election had the right to have its leader as prime minister.

Asked if he would agree to cooperation with parties of the People's Coalition other than the SDP and the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS), Plenkovic said he would see how things evolved in terms of the coalition's cohesion, adding that the HDZ was open to talks.

Plenkovic said that the HDZ was open to talks with all parliamentary representatives of ethnic minorities. He said that the HDZ, as a member of the European People's Party (EPP), attached great attention to cooperating with the ethnic minorities and respecting their rights. He added that the HDZ expected at the same time that the rights of ethnic Croats in other countries were respected as well.

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