New Prime Minister Orešković Gives First Interviews to Croatian Media

By 26 January 2016

PM Tim meets the Croatian media and comments on some of the current hot topics.

New Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković gave a series of interviews yesterday to Croatian major television channels, reports Index.hr on January 26, 2016. He spoke about the first moves of his government and his ministers. "I hope we will work as a team. I have the political support of Karamarko and Petrov, and I believe we will be a team in the next four years and lead the country in a positive direction", said Orešković. "Everything is part of my responsibility. I am interested in education, the healthcare system and other areas. My natural priorities are economy and finance, but other issues are also important to me", he said.

He commented on the protests against the new Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović. "Unfortunately, what happened was out of context. I have talked with him, he is a very honest man and an antifascist, and absolutely a professional person. Everyone knows that I grew up in Canada. My attitude, the attitude of the West is clear, fascism and communism are two great evils. I hope that everyone is clear about that. I was also a minority when I was in Canada. I will support minorities and their rights."

He also answered the question whether in the future he would have the right to dismiss a minister if he is not satisfied with their work. "If someone does not fulfil their responsibilities, we will have that discussion. The team that I have assembled is very good and we are moving forward. We will have quick results", he said. "I have asked each minister to study the situation in their ministry by Wednesday. As for the budget, we will have more specific numbers by the end of March. Yesterday, Finance Minister Marić and I spent four hours looking into the numbers. There will be reforms, but in the end we will focus on efficiencies, to transfer the money where it is needed."

"I have immediately said that the focus is on reducing the public debt. This is a positive message to the world and to the European Commission. The money will be found in property which is not being used properly. Whatever is not strategically important will be liquidated and get rid of in order to improve the debt situation. The focus is on the debt that we have to fix. It is important that on Wednesday we send a clear message to the IMF that we will find a way to reduce the debt. As I have said, with 500 million euros we want to help small and medium businesses."

"Social rights should not be cut. We need to maintain and secure them. I will absolutely cooperate with the unions, they are my partners.", he said. Orešković also confirmed that property tax will be introduced. "The focus will be on properties which are not in use. If someone has 5 or 6 properties, there will be a property tax", he said and added that the Swiss franc exchange rate will remain frozen.

Orešković also talked about the recommendations given by the IFO Institute. "I do not support the idea of currency devaluation, there are other ways to raise competitiveness", he said while refusing to comment on whether he vetoed Ivan Lovrinović as Finance Minister because he is a proponent of devaluation. "I would not comment on candidates for ministers. The citizens understand the choices I have made."

He spoke briefly about the Croatian policy towards migrants and refugees. "The policy so far has been very clear. Croatia is a transit country. We are ready and we remain ready to help the refugees. But, if the influx is changed, we will protect the interests of Croatia."

The Prime Minister also answered the popular question in Croatia about what he was doing in 1991, when the Homeland War started. "That year, I finished a master's degree in Canada. I went to visit relatives in Munich, and then I took a train and came to Zagreb to see my brothers who were on the frontlines. I have not served in the Croatian army, and in Canada there is no mandatory service", he said, adding that the government will not focus on various registers which are being proposed by some ministers. "We will not focus on it", he said tersely.

Orešković did not want to discuss Deputy Prime Minister Karamarko's accusations that some votes were stolen from the Patriotic Coalition. "I do not know anything about it, I was not involved in that process. We need to see what happened." He also said that the financing system for the Church will not change. "We will not change it, we will leave it as it is today", said Orešković who added that he would invite Church representatives to come and bless the Banski Dvori palace, the seat of government.