Croatian PM says not thinking about early polls: paper

Reuters News
Posted: May 07, 2016 5:29 AM

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia's prime minister dismissed the possibility of an early election and said in an interview published on Saturday that his fractious coalition would deliver promised reforms to spur growth and cut debt.

Tihomir Oreskovic told daily Vecernji List he had good relationships with other leaders of the coalition that took office in January and which comprises the conservative HDZ and reformist Most ("Bridge") parties plus several small allies.

"Sometimes our opinions differ and we can have unpleasant discussions, but it doesn't mean they are not healthy," Oreskovic said. "I don't even think about an early election as we have a lot of jobs ahead of us and all the ministers are aware of it and keen to focus on work."

Recent squabbles over appointments including that of an intelligence chief and reforms to the pension system and public administration have prompted questions about the stability of the government and the possibility of early polls.

HDZ parliamentary deputy Zeljko Dilber said on Friday his party could reassess relations with Most -- at whose insistence technocrat Oreskovic was appointed as premier -- after an internal election in late May.

A snap election would slow momentum for reforms needed to boost one of the European Union's weakest economies.

"We jointly as a government prepared reforms and we can implement them only if we stick together. I'm convinced we will deliver results," Oreskovic, formerly an executive at Israeli drug firm Teva, said in the interview.

The government adopted a package of measures last week aimed at fostering growth, cutting high public debt and avoiding corrective measures for macroeconomic imbalances from Brussels.

Oreskovic said the government would soon outline plans to privatize some non-strategic assets, including real estate and minority stakes in some firms.

"My first move now will be to reduce debt by up to 200 million euros ($228.06 million). In the next two weeks we will know in what companies we want to sell our share and in what way," he said.

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Catherine Evans)