Andrej Plenkovic, the sole candidate for the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), said on Friday that his main goal was to restore the trust of voters with a credible and consistent party policy, stressing that the HDZ could once again become the leader of modernisation with full support for traditional values and the pivotal force of the development of Croatia where the Croatian people would realise their full potential.

"My main mission is to restore the trust of voters with credible and consistent party policies," Plenkovic said presenting his programme under the slogan - "HDZ - the pivotal force of Croatia's development." He expressed confidence that his party could once again become the leader of modernisation while fully respecting traditional values and the central force of the development of Croatia where the Croatian people would realise their full potential.

Plenkovic underscored that in the campaign for the coming snap parliamentary election he was prepared for an open debate with Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic and other political leaders so the public could learn what sort of leadership, platform and future different political groups were offering the country.

Presenting his platform, Plenkovic recalled that the HDZ was a state-building party of the Croatian people that represented national interests and traditional values, nurtured Christian democracy and universal humanistic principles and was a part of the centre-right in the European political spectrum.

Plenkovic underscored that his platform was one for "a modern HDZ" and that he would present it to the party's members around the country over the next few days. He highlighted that the platform contained solutions based on his political, diplomatic and legal experience and values of the centre-right on the European political scene and examples of good practice.

Presenting the platform's priorities, Plenkovic said that the HDZ condemned all totalitarian regimes and respected all victims, standing firmly by the policy of reconciliation advocated by late president Franjo Tudjman, and that it would protect the rights and dignity of Croatian war veterans and their families and better promote their role in society.

Plenkovic believes that it is necessary to prepare a new, integral and more modern party statute and that changes to the statute should enable the party's members to participate more actively in creating party policies, strengthen the role of the Main Committee, develop the institution of intra-party referendum and create conditions for electronic voting as well as further strengthen the model of electing party officials on the principle of "one member - one vote."

Speaking about the main elements of the party's platform, which will be agreed with a task force headed be Ivana Maletic, Plenkovic underscored the importance of an efficient judiciary and public administration in creating better conditions for economic development and a better living standard for citizens. "It is essential to restore citizens' trust in the rule-of-law, and that is not possible without an impartial and efficient judiciary and an efficient and honest public administration," he said, adding that the public sector needed to be rationalised and that the key to that was to introduce new technologies.

Special emphasis will be put on strengthening the fiscal capacity and fiscal sustainability of the state through decreasing the budget deficit and public debt, Plenkovic said, adding that agricultural development was essential to Croatia's economic success because rural areas had huge and unexploited potential. He also advocates the development of fisheries and tourism as strategic economic branches.

Plenkovic believes that the country is faced with the danger of unfavourable demographic trends and the emigration of young and highly educated people, which could seriously jeopardise the country's entrepreneurial, innovative and intellectual potential in the future. It is therefore necessary to continue with the integral curriculum reform to ensure an efficient education system that is appropriate for a contemporary society while respecting parents' rights, promoting national identity and pluralistic involvement of experts, said Plenkovic.

Plenkovic advocates the concept of homeland security that includes the adoption of a coherent National Security Strategy. Regarding the country's foreign policy, he believes that it is necessary to strengthen Croatia's Central European and Mediterranean dimension, support the European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and resolve remaining outstanding issues with neighbouring countries.

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