Drago Prgomet, who was expelled from the National Council of the Bridge coalition of independent slates on Friday for meeting privately with Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, said that there was nothing secret about that meeting and that there was no talk of the distribution of ministerial posts at the meeting.
"This is a free country, my friends were killed in the war so that people in this country could talk with whomever they like, including me with my friend, (Defence) Minister (Ante) Kotromanovic," Prgomet said, adding that he knew that Milanovic would attend the meeting but that ministerial posts were not discussed.
"We discussed how to overcome the current crisis, how to try and agree a broad coalition government, namely everything we had discussed before that; there is nothing secret about it, if I had wanted to keep (the meeting) secret, I would not have gone to (Kotromanovic's) apartment early in the evening," said Prgomet.
He said that he was also to have met with Zeljko Reiner of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) today because Reiner contacted him two days ago. "(Bridge leader) Bozo Petrov knew about all of my communication, and he knew that I had communicated both with Milanovic and with Reiner, who repeated his invitation at (Bridge's) meeting with the HDZ, there is nothing secret about it," said Prgomet.
In statements for Croatian Television and Nova TV, Prgomet said that he learned about his expulsion from Bridge on web portals, that no one had asked him to explain what happened at the meeting with Milanovic and that he still had not managed to reach Petrov.
Asked if it was true that he told Milanovic that he could secure him ten seats, Prgomet said that he could not speak on anyone's behalf and that that was not discussed at the meeting.
Asked if he had told Bridge's leadership that he would meet with Milanovic, Prgomet said that there was no Bridge leadership and that under the party's statute, there was no National Council either. Bridge consists of independent people, there is a platform and an agreement in principle and I didn't do anything to breach it, he said.
Asked if it was true that he was willing to support Milanovic's coalition, Prgomet said that he was only willing to support Petrov as the future prime minister. "Petrov will get my vote in the parliament."
He said that it was important to fulfill pre-election promises, make changes and assume responsibility. We cannot hide behind parliamentary benches and let someone else take the responsibility, it would kill any hope of change among voters, he said.
Prgomet went on to say that a new election was not a way to change the situation in the country, "especially not now, when the economic situation is disastrous and Slovenia is putting a fence on Croatian territory and thousands of refugees are arriving."
Asked about his meeting with Kruno Badel, a special political advisor at the US Embassy, Prgomet said, "What better is there for Croatia than to speak about one's homeland and show a wish to help, and who can be a better partner in that than our allies in NATO and the EU?"
Bridge leader Bozo Petrov said earlier that agreement had been reached by Bridge members to consult on all statements to be given by the coalition but that Prgomet acted on his own. Petrov said that this was proof that other political camps would try to cause disunity in Bridge, but that he believed that there would be no new departures from Bridge.