ZAGREB, June 22, 2019 – Zoran Milanović, former prime minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the party’s candidate for the next President of the Republic, told reporters in Brezovica on Saturday that he had arrived to attend the celebration of Anti-Fascist Struggle Day and to be with his friends and people who cared about anti-fascism.
“I’m here for Anti-Fascist Struggle Day, the only holiday that mentions struggle. I’m here for the tenth time and am pleased. These were our boys and girls in 1941, as were those in 1991. It’s quite connected,” Milanović said.
“I think very many Croats and citizens of Croatia care about this. This is my return to public life. It so happened that this is my first public event. The first day of the struggle was Monday,” Milanović said, referring to June 17 when he formally announced his presidency bid. He said that these would not be to topics on his campaign agenda.
Asked about his chances of winning the presidential race, Milanović said that it would be a competition and the strongest competitor would win. “I believe that Croatia will choose a new policy. This time I’m not entering the race with the burden of being a favourite in the opinion polls, as was the case before, so it’s easier for me.”
Commenting on the fact that the incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was not present at today’s ceremony, Milanovic said that as far as he could remember Grabar-Kitarović had never been to Brezovica.
“It’s their message and you’ll have to ask them. I was surprised, but not negatively, by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s message of several days ago to the heroes of the (WWII) Battle of Sutjeska, and a government envoy is also here today,” Milanović said.
Speaking of his departure from politics after the previous elections, Milanović said that the HDZ had won slightly more votes than the SDP and that he had thought he had no moral right to ask to be a prime minister-designate.
“The SDP was a strong party, and Plenković reduced his party to 22 percent in the last election, but it’s their problem,” Milanovic said.
As for media reports on Grabar-Kitarović and Plenković as possible candidates for the post of European Commission President, Milanovic said he was not against it. “If either of them can become Commission President, I’m in favour, because in that way they can contribute to Croatia’s reputation,” he said, noting that the Commission President’s job was not to work for their own country but to protect the European treaties.
He said he would like the Croatian candidate to become Secretary of the Council of Europe.
Milanović could not say if he would accept the President’s invitation to attend a reception for Statehood Day. “It depends on my obligations and my schedule. But it won’t be a celebration, but a cocktail party. A celebration should be a public event.”
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