Andrej Plenković.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Mario STRMOTIĆ/ ua

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic said at an election rally in Split on Wednesday evening that the Social Democratic Party-led People's Coalition comprised parties of the previous SDP-led coalition which "wanted to protect the state terrorism of former Yugoslav services" that killed Croats worldwide.

"Do you want to give your trust to those who only three days before Croatia's admission to the EU wanted to betray the confidence of our partners and what the HDZ-led government had negotiated, and who adopted Lex Perkovic in order to protect the state terrorism of Yugoslav services that killed Croat emigrants across Europe and the rest of the world? Do you want to give your vote to them?" Plenkovic asked the crowd, who responded "We don't."

Plenkovic got the same answer when he asked: "Do you want to give your trust to those who gave up an earlier political consensus in our country on the Croatian Parliament sponsoring the commemoration of the Bleiburg tragedy?"

He then went on to say that the SDP-led government had a chance to do something for four years.

"They wanted economic growth and got economic decline, they wanted higher employment but unemployment is growing, they wanted to improve the country's rating but it dropped twice, they wanted lower taxes but raised VAT by two percent, they wanted better economic and social status for our people but the number of those with frozen bank accounts increased by 100,000," Plenkovic said, adding that opposite to the SDP government was a reformed and pro-European HDZ fighting for a better future.

In that context, he distanced himself from the Bridge party without explicitly mentioning its name, saying that the HDZ no longer wanted any experiments.

"Dear friends, let us do our best to make the outcome of the vote convincing, so that we don't have to venture into any combinations or experiments and so that we can form a stable and strong Croatian government that will bring a better life to the entire Croatia," he said, calling on the people of Dalmatia not to vote for "those who want to experiment, who want to be moral and political arbitrators."

"The government will be led by the party that wins the most votes and that will stand by its president and its ministers, only that way is it possible to have a stable government that will be led by the HDZ," said Plenkovic.

He in particular called on right-wing parties that would not be able to pass the election threshold and their voters to vote for the HDZ, adding that this was his message also to "our friends in the Peasant Party."   

Commenting on relations with Serbia, he said that Croatia would protect its national interests.

"The most important thing is that we will resolve the outstanding issue dating back to the time of Milosevic's war of aggression, the controversial law on hybrid regional jurisdiction for war crimes which Serbia has expanded to cover also our citizens and our territory... and that we will protect the freedom of movement of our defenders. We can guarantee you that," said Plenkovic.

He said that it was the HDZ's ministers in the outgoing government who had invested huge effort to have Croatia's conditions for Serbia's EU entry negotiations incorporated in the EU's negotiating position.

Plenkovic also noted that Croatia and the whole of Europe were faced with major challenges, mentioning in that context conflicts in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and the migrant crisis.

"We have to have a strong leadership that will understand those problems, have a rational response to them and wisely protect our national interests," he said.

The rally was also addressed by a member of the European Parliament and member of the German CDU party, Elmar Brok, who said several times during his address that Plenkovic had huge diplomatic experience and understood global developments as well as Croatia's national interests.

With Plenkovic we are embarking on a new period because Europe needs new people like him, capable of creating national policies as well as contributing to the creation of European policies, said Brok.

Speaking to the press after the rally, Plenkovic said he did not mind fans of the Hajduk Split football club holding a demonstration next to the venue of the HDZ's rally.

Asked if the demonstration ruined his party's rally, he said: "Absolutely not." He said that democracy implied freedom to protest.

Several hundred Hajduk fans gathered on the city's waterfront promenade, where the HDZ was holding its rally, to protest against the non-implementation of the Sports Act, shouting slogans and interrupting the HDZ's rally for an hour and a half.

Police said no incidents were recorded.

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