Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic confirmed on Friday that the government and its social partners had discussed the reform plan which the government intended to submit to the European Commission soon, adding that he did not mind that the document had been leaked to the public and describing tensions between his deputies Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov as ' growing pains'.

"We openly and transparently invited our partners to talks last week. We openly discussed our plans with trade unions and presented our reform plan. It has already been leaked to the public, but that's okay. This government will not isolate itself and wait for everything to be over, we are open to discussion," Oreskovic told reporters after the opening of a conference on the reform of public administration in Zagreb.

Oreskovic said that discussions and tensions were healthy, describing the reform of public administration a fundamental reform and the conference as just the beginning of a journey towards an efficient public administration.

"This is just the beginning. It is important that we have started working, regardless of how much some relations are talked about, those are growing pains. We all know that when a team is being formed, there are different opinions and that eventually they have to be harmonised," said the PM.

Attending the conference along with Oreskovic was also Petrov. Reporters remarked that Karamarko was not present, to which Oreskovic said that there was nothing unusual about it.

"We are all going today to Jasenovac and we will be there together. Mr Karamarko must be on his way there. The reform of public administration is an important topic, I think that we have support for it and we want to make it clear that this is a key reform for this country," he said.

Asked if Karamarko had distanced himself from a former member of the INA management Board, Josip Petrovic, which is what Petrov's Bridge party had asked him to do, Oreskovic said that he did not want to comment on relations between his deputies.

"The main message to the citizens is that we are working and that possible conflicts, caused by differences of opinion, are normal in politics, just as they are normal in any other business and system," he said.

He stressed that finances were crucial, welcoming figures about a decrease in the state budget in 2015 and expressing confidence that his government would stop the growth of public debt and restore optimism among Croatians.

Answering reporters' questions, Petrov said that tensions in the government were "normal and natural" and expressed confidence that they could result in a more constructive implementation of some plans. 

As for Karamarko's explanation that his friendship with Petrovic, who is now a consultant for the Hungarian oil and gas company MOL, had no influence on his business and political decisions, Petrov said it was personally important to him "to make a distinction between friendship and business".

Reporters insisted that he had accused his partner in the government of jeopardising national interests, to which Petrov said that his remarks did not refer specifically to Karamarko but to "certain groups."

"There are certain political groups trying to gain influence. That is what I was talking about and what Bridge will never allow. We will insist on that and I believe that all other government members have the same desire and aspiration to protect national interests," he said.

Petrov said that he was confident the strained relations in the government would not harm reform plans, adding that the current government would show already in the first year of its term that its results were better than those of the previous government.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.