ZAGREB, January 7, 2020 – Commenting on the defeat of his HDZ party’s presidential candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and turmoil in the ruling party, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that party bodies would analyse what had happened in the presidential election, dismissing as absolute nonsense accusations against him coming from the far right.
Plenković, who is on an official visit to France, said that many people had done their best to prevent the HDZ from repeating its success of five years ago.
“We will have to open some topics that have been hanging in the air for quite a while. Since the very first moment in 2016, the government and I have been targeted by lies, defamation and labelling, none of which is true,” Plenković said in Paris, where on Tuesday he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.
He agreed with HDZ secretary-general Gordan Jandroković’s statement that the campaign of the HDZ’s candidate was more right than the party’s policy, saying that Jandroković’s statement was not hasty.
Plenković stressed that some of the labels against him were introduced in the public sphere by President-elect Zoran Milanović, “after which they were exploited by the far right via its media outlets and social networks.”
He said the claims that the HDZ had moved too much to the centre or too much to the left under his leadership were absolute nonsense.
Plenković said that he would cooperate, in line with the Constitution, with President-elect Milanovic, whom he “phoned briefly and congratulated as a matter of courtesy”.
“We will try to find a common language on topics that require our cooperation as well as on national interests, and as to what was said during the campaign, if I were to go back to that, we would not cooperate very much,” said Plenković.
He said that the HDZ would analyse what had happened in the presidential election and why Grabar-Kitarović did not repeat her success of five years ago.
“There were many people who did their best to prevent that. Legitimate political opponents are one thing, but those who had supported the president five years ago and now did not, are another. I don’t know what the problem is, Croatia today is definitely a much better country than it was five years ago,” Plenković said.
Asked if parliamentary elections could be held before elections in the HDZ, Plenković said: “We are not at that stage yet.”
As for the HDZ’s coalition with the Croatian People’s Party (HNS) or the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), which some hold against him, Plenković wondered why nobody had anything against the coalition with the SDSS some 15 years ago, when a deputy prime minister was from that party.
“How can this be a problem at a time when Croatia is a member of the EU, which it chairs, when it is a member of NATO, when we are self-confident, after we have won a war? There are no problems, we are dealing with the remnants of Croatia’s economic transition and we are including minorities in that process, which is normal in any country.”
He dismissed a reporter’s remark that the reason might be that then Prime Minister Ivo Sanader had greater authority in the HDZ than he has.
“No, the reason is that the far right outside the HDZ was weaker. It has grown stronger since, and that did not happen because of me. Somebody else has introduced it into mainstream politics, (far-right politicians) have grown fond of governing and decision-making and when they are not able to do so, they pursue a different policy. That’s the point and that topic should be opened and we will open it already tomorrow,” Plenković said, adding that nobody would topple him and that the HDZ would hold intra-party elections at which everyone would be able to run for party president.
“Whoever wins will be leading the HDZ,” he said.
Plenković also said there was good reason to believe that France’s position on EU enlargement, after that country last October blocked the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, would evolve.
He said that he would discuss that topic at his talks with Macron on Tuesday, during which he would present the main aspects of Croatia’s EU presidency.
More HDZ news can be found in the Politics section.