Social Democratic Party (SDP) president and Croatia Is Growing coalition leader Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday that reforms got lost in the negotiations with the Bridge party, that it had all boiled down to who would be prime minister and in office, and that it all looked to him like an attempt to rescue the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and its president, Tomislav Karamarko, whom he called "a walking political corpse."
Speaking to the press after consultations with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on the formation of the new government, Milanovic said that the SDP-led coalition clearly said on Saturday that they were for the continuation of the negotiations with Bridge, but not for a tripartite government in which would sit people from the HDZ-led coalition in which there were "racists, fascists and people accused of major crimes."
We said we would not side with them, Milanovic said, adding that he could not do that and that voters would not forgive them.
We are willing to continue to negotiate with Bridge, but not on some unknowns who nominate themselves for prime minister, he said, adding that if Bridge leader Bozo Petrov was nominated prime minister, they would discuss it.
Asked if this meant that in that case he would give up the post of prime minister, Milanovic said they would first discuss the proposal that Petrov be the candidate for the post. "I invite everyone in Bridge to stop being a bridgehead for a criminal organisation's return to power. We can't participate in that."
"I say once again, we are for talks with Bridge, we are not fakes. It's well-known that all of the HDZ's coalition partners are ruined," Milanovic said.
He said there were several people in Bridge who saw this situation as a division of the loot, that all they wanted were offices which they could get with those who were weaker now, namely the Patriotic Coalition.
Milanovic said that some people in Bridge had changed five parties and two last names, and that nothing was known about them. Asked who changed their last name twice, he said it was a matter of public record. A reporter noted that Bridge had nominated this person for parliament speaker, to which he said, "There, we let even that go."
Croatian People's Party (HNS) leader Vesna Pusic said that at yesterday's consultations with President Grabar-Kitarovic both Milanovic and Karamarko unequivocally said that they would not enter a tripartite coalition with Bridge.
"Later we heard that something had changed, at least expression-wise. That leads me to conclude that the HDZ subsequently decided to agree to anything, which is not a negotiation but a position - We'll do anything to form the government and afterwards do as we please," Pusic said.
Labour Party leader Nansi Tireli invited Bridge to say in two days what they thought about the responses the Croatia Is Growing coalition gave to their proposals eight days ago.
"We don't know what Bridge actually wants... I hope these people who rushed headlong into politics don't think that reforms can be carried out overnight," said Pensioners Party leader Silvano Hrelja.