The new Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader, Andrej Plenkovic, said after he cast his ballot at the HDZ leadership election on Sunday, that he was focused on his party's victory of the snap parliamentary election set for 11 September and that he was also willing to cooperate with the Bridge reformist party.

Plenkovic is to be elected as the new HDZ president on Sunday  as the only candidate in the election based on the principle "one member-one vote". Approximately 220,000 members of this party are eligible to cast their ballots in polling stations organised by town, municipal and regional election branches. Plenkovic is replacing Tomislav Karamarko who resigned as HDZ chief on June 21 since he failed to form a new parliamentary majority within the eighth parliament after the HDZ ousted the Tihomir Oreskovic cabinet consisting of the HDZ and the Bridge.

Asked by the press in Dubrovnik today how he would manage to lead the HDZ while being also a member of the European Parliament, Plenkovic responded that he was focused on clinching the victory on 11 September.

"I am focused on creating a new parliamentary majority and on assuming the role of the premier," Plenkovic said.

He said he would like that this day (July 17) be a crossroads for his party and called on grassroot members to support him.

Asked whether his predecessor Karamarko could be added to the HDZ slates for the parliamentary election, Plenkovic said that slates would be on the agenda as of tomorrow.

"This is not the right time to mention any candidate specifically," Plenkovic said.

Asked whether the HDZ would run in the parliamentary election on its own or if it would form coalitions, Plenkovic said that he would start talks with potential partners as of tomorrow, and added that he was open to cooperation with the Bridge party.

I have asked associates who made up the task force for negotiations with potential coalition partners to submit me a report and analysis of the (HDZ)-led Patriotic Coalition. The (SDP-led) left coalition has already been formed, and we will make a responsible decision on how to run in the (parliamentary) election, Plenkovic said adding that he did not feel any accountability for any frictions in the outgoing government consisting of the HDZ-led Patriotic Coalition and the Bridge party.

"I think that we have space for a new page of cooperation," Plenkovic said referring to cooperation with the Bridge party.

Plenkovic, born in Zagreb in 1970, graduated in law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb in 1993 and passed bar exam in 2002. He got employment in the Croatian Foreign Ministry in 1994 and has performed several diplomatic roles since then. In the past years he was Deputy Ambassador – Minister Plenipotentiary at the Croatian Embassy in Paris as well as the state secretary for European Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the chairman of the Sabor delegation to the Croatia-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee.

He speaks Croatian, English, French and Italian fluently and has working knowledge of German.

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