Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Andrej Plenkovic on Saturday paid his respects those killed for the homeland on the occasion of Independence Day, which is observed today, saying that 8 October 1991 had been a key day for severing all ties with the former Yugoslavia.

"We remembered this morning, at the Altar of the Homeland, at Mirogoj and at the grave of Croatia's first president, Franjo Tudjman, those days 25 years ago and the day after (the government's building) was shelled and when the scenario, according to which Croatia's leadership should have been killed, was averted. That was a key day for severing all state and legal ties with the former state and it practically meant the going into force of the Declaration on Croatia's independence and the decision on Croatia's sovereignty and independence of June 25," Plenkovic told reporters after laying wreaths at Zagreb's Mirogoj cemetery.

He recalled that on 8 October 1991 the Croatian parliament secretly convened in a building of the INA oil company in downtown Zagreb. "A quarter of a century later, we remember those historic days with pride and the obligation, on the eve of forming a new parliament and a new government, to work with commitment on the tasks which are the priorities of contemporary Croatian society," he said, expressing, on the HDZ's behalf, deep respect for the defenders killed for Croatia's freedom.

Reporters asked him if he agreed with HDZ official Vladimir Seks's idea that a single holiday should mark Croatia's sovereignty, statehood and independence and his proposal that the date should be May 30, on which citizens would decide in a referendum. Plenkovic said this should be seriously and thoroughly discussed and that everyone would weigh in on the discussion "when and if the time comes for it," but that now they respected all the national holidays regulated by law.

Asked if, as the likely prime minister-designate, he would have the right to veto candidates for ministers nominated by the Bridge party, Plenkovic said that when the president appointed him PM-designate, he would talk with all potential candidates in that capacity and make decisions.

He said HDZ and Bridge experts were working on the new government's programme and that its draft would be finalised next week.

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