Croatian Prime Minister gives interview and talks on a range of topics.
Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković gave an interview this morning to Croatian Radio. He did not want to answer the question when he would decide whether to dismiss Security Intelligence Agency Director Dragan Lozančić. “As someone who comes from the world of business, I will not make decisions in haste”, he said. “I will receive additional information and make a decision when the time is right”, said Orešković, reports Vecernji List on February 10, 2016.
Orešković added that President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović had the right to take the initiative and she did it. “She very clearly communicated that she had lost confidence in Mr. Lozančić”, said Orešković and added that he and the President were political partners. “This is a situation that will be resolved, but I think we need to focus on the positive. We are partners and we work for a better Croatia”, said Orešković.
He did not say whether he already knew the name for the new Veterans Affairs Minister. “This is a very important ministry and we will soon announce the name of the new minister”, said Orešković.
The Prime Minister said that Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović had his support and added that his controversial comments were taken out of context. “Mr. Hasanbegović is an antifascist and historian and very capable man. I think he will be a great culture minister”, said Orešković.
Regarding the budget for 2016, the Prime Minister pointed out that the priority was to reduce the debt and to bring deficit closer to three percent of gross domestic product. “Then we will look at where we can increase investments. We have enough space for growth regarding EU funds, and the investments will stimulate growth”, said Orešković. “That is our priority. We will have an open dialogue with each ministry and we will see where there are opportunities to raise efficiency of the entire system. All options are open and all the cards are on the table”, he replied when asked what will happen with wages, pensions and social benefits. He said that on 24 February the European Commission will publish a report on Croatia, which will send a message what kind of structural reforms are needed.
Asked about the introduction of property taxes, Orešković said that he would consider introducing a tax on properties which are not in use. “If it is an apartment or a house where somebody lives, we will not introduce a tax. But if a plot of land or a house is not in use, we will introduce tax for them. If someone has five, six or seven apartments or houses, they will have to pay property taxes”, said the Prime Minister.
Asked about reducing the number of counties in Croatia, Orešković said that this was not in his focus. What is important is their efficiency and sustainability. “If a city, county or municipality can finance themselves, then that is their advantage. If not, then we will look for other models”, he said.
Speaking about the refugee crisis, he stressed the need for human treatment of refugees, but also for the protection of national interests. He expressed hope that he will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and talk with her about refugees and the economy. “We will remain partners and strengthen our relations. It is important to see how we can intensify investments in Croatia”, said Orešković.