In an interview with Nova TV, the Prime Minister comments on latest events.
On Monday evening, Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković gave an interview to Nova TV, in which he discussed the government’s first 100 days and the latest political and economic events, reports dnevnik.hr on May 3, 2016.
What is your biggest success and your biggest failure in the first 100 days?
I wish we made some decisions faster, since we perhaps spent too much time on personnel decisions. As for successes, I think we did not have a lot of time. This is a new government and a new coalition. We have adopted a relatively good budget and set goals. Economic growth was two percent, and we have a plan. The goal is to reduce the deficit below three percent and we will focus on cracking down the debt. I am confident that reforms will bring quality results which will eventually begin to reduce unemployment and raise the living standard for all citizens. When we looked at the budget, we had to find 2.5 billion kuna. We had to work harder in order to find solutions, because our goal was to reduce the deficit below three percent, which will happen for the first time in I do not know how many years. It was not an easy task, but in the end we took the responsibility.
In a recent interview, Ivan Kovačić (MOST) said that the cooperation between MOST and HDZ no longer made any sense. How do you plan to focus on these reforms when every day there are threats about government reshuffles, new elections, and coalition partners arguing among themselves?
This is a coalition, we did not come from one party. I was not even a part of the political arena, but I came from the business sector. During the first 100 days, we were getting to know each other. In this government, having a debate is something normal, and in the end we found quality solutions. A week or a month ago, everybody said there were no reforms. Now many are saying that the reforms are too ambitious.
Do Tomislav Karamarko and Božo Petrov trust each other?
Absolutely. They are partners. Maybe they have a bit sharper opinions. But, in the end, the three of us always sit down and talk, and we have some additional discussions. But, as a man who came from the business sector, I think all citizens should focus on results.
In a recent survey by Nova TV, people said that Tomislav Karamarko was the one making decisions in this government. Is he your boss?
No. I am the Prime Minister and I think you could see that I have made some tough decisions. But again, I will always seek the advice of Mr. Karamarko, who is the president of HDZ and has experience. I will also ask advice from Mr. Petrov, because he also has more political experience than me. In finance and in economy, I have the experience, but Mr. Karamarko has experience in several other areas and I will use that knowledge.
Are you satisfied with all the members of the government and will there be a reshuffle?
We have a quality package of reforms and it is now up to us. In terms of results and measures, now we have defined what we had promised to the citizens, and it is up to us to implement reforms. If we do not do it, then as responsible people we will take that responsibility and each minister will be responsible for what he or she promised.
Speaking of reforms, the government has decided to increase the retirement age to 67 and to increase the price of supplementary health insurance. Couldn’t you do it in some other way?
I think we have introduced fair reforms. It is never easy and I understand that. And we may now need to make some decisions that maybe former government was not prepared to adopt. But again, it is important to start, that we can somehow create foundations on which we can grow. I am convinced that we will see these positive results and eventually people will see that all of this made sense.
You claim that these are your reforms, but some say that you have largely done only what was demanded by the European Commission?
We will see in two weeks what the European Commission has to say. I believe that these reforms are good and that they will recognize that Croatia is going in the right direction.
What is the final position of the government about the LNG terminal and oil drilling in the Adriatic?
Energy is a key segment for Croatia, for the economy. I support the LNG project, I had a few meetings about that. I think we should start it as soon as possible. I would say that the LNG project is the top priority of this government. At this moment, we are not ready to start with the oil drilling in the Adriatic. We need a broader discussion to see which way to go.
Is INA a strategic company for you and is there a consensus in the government whether the arbitration proceedings should go all the way?
INA is absolutely a strategic company. We have information about the status of arbitration proceedings, but again we will sit down and begin to have conversations. We need to see a bigger picture. We have INA, MOL, the LNG project, and we have to determine what is our strategy in general regarding energy. Maybe we will connect some of these things.
So, Croatia will not withdraw from the arbitration proceedings?
The arbitration is taking its course and at the moment we will not exit the arbitration procedure, but we will start to have conversations.
The Council of Europe is concerned about ethnic intolerance and hate speech in Croatia. Is the government partly responsible for such an atmosphere in society?
I really do not know. I often wonder, there are always some individuals who might say something. This government and this nation are very tolerant. I can say I do not see that level of hatred which is sometimes seen in the media. Turkish President was here a few days ago and he made a statement that this is a country of tolerance and I think we should start to see things in a little bit more positive way.
Culture Minister Hasanbegović still has your full support?