Milanovic, Plenkovic.jpg
Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Zoran Milanovic [L] and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) president Andrej Plenkovic [R]
Photograph: Hina/ Dario GRZELJ/ dag

In his response to the HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic's claims that he had made derogatory remarks about his mother, Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic said on Sunday that he had not intended to insult Plenkovic's mother but that he had intended to point out that Plenkovic "is a man who lacks credibility" and who "is keen to polish his CV."

"My remarks were made in a colloquial conversation behind the closed doors. It was not insulting, she (Plenkovic's mother) has been a skilled professional and a person of integrity. The topic (of my remarks) was the new HDZ leader who discovered the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) in his 42nd year of life... now he starts pretending to be a stauncher patriot than me," the SDP leader said at an  Impromptu news conference he held after the HDZ leader earlier on Sunday harshly criticised Milanovic over what he perceived to be derogatory marks against his mother.

Milanovic's comment, made during his informal meeting with a few war veterans leaders, about the career of Plenkovic's mother, a doctor, in a military hospital for the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), prompted Plenkovic to state that as a Christian, he would forgive Milanovic but would never forget. Plenkovic also found such remarks against a family member a precedent in campaigning and criticised the Opposition of mudslinging and negative campaigning in the run-up to the snap parliamentary election scheduled for 11 September.

In his counter news conference, Milanovic said that some members of the HDZ alleged that his father had reportedly participated in the assassination of a Yugoslav-era Croatian emigrant Bruno Busic and this had been welcomed by "Mr. Plenkovic and others" with giggles.

Milanovic went on to say that the Plenkovic and the HDZ would be no problem for the street politics in Serbia and for Belgrade to implement its controversial law on universal jurisdiction.

He also notes that the current government in Hungary would prefer the HDZ victory in the parliamentary election, adding that the HDZ still have a man who advocates the termination of the arbitration with Hungary's MOL over INA high on one of its slates for parliament.

On Sunday evening, Plenkovic responded that his entire career, his path, his political programme and his patriotism and actions were the best proof of his credibility.

During his walkabout with citizens in Koprivinica, Plenkovic said that Milanovic "is making lame excuses" as he had "no ethical courage to apologise".

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