Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told the France 24 TV channel that his goal at the negotiations on the distribution of key posts in European institutions was for the European People's Party (EPP) to get the post of European Commission President, which was eventually achieved.
At the end of an EU summit on Friday, Plenkovic gave two interviews to France 24, one in English for its Talking Europe programme and one in French for its Ici L'Europe programme, which was aired on Saturday and Sunday.
In the French language interview, the interviewer asked Plenkovic whether he had been mentioned as a candidate for EC President as well and whether he regretted the missed opportunity.
"No, my candidate was Manfred Weber. I and Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins were negotiators on behalf of the EPP and my goal was for the EPP to get the seat of EC President, which we eventually achieved," he said.
"There were a lot of rumours but I have been Croatia's Prime Minister for three years. We are about to take over the presidency of the Council of the EU and I have a very big responsibility on the national level," he explained.
After the other two political groups in the EP, the Socialists and the Liberals, did not agree that Weber, whose EPP was the relative winner of the elections, should become EC President, the three strongest political groups each determined two negotiators, and Plenkovic was one for the EPP.
The Socialists and the Liberals were in favour of Dutch Frans Timmermans becoming the new EC President but the EPP and Plenkovic strongly opposed it. Eventually, Ursula von der Leyen of Germany was nominated for the post.
Plenkovic was also asked about the candidacy of Dubravka Suica as EC Vice President-elect for Democracy and Demography, for whom the journalist said that she had barely passed her hearing before the EP.
Plenkovic said that this was not the case and that Suica won support from a two-thirds majority, expressing great satisfaction with von der Leyen choosing her.
Commenting on the EU's decision not to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, Plenkovic said that "it was not a very good decision" considering that North Macedonia had the courage to change its name hoping that this would help start its EU entry talks.
As for French President Emmanuel Macron's demand that the EU should reform the enlargement process and become more politically integrated before admitting new members, Plenkovic said that the debate about whether the EU should be more reformed or more expanded had been going on for more than 30 years, stressing that the enlargement process was now stricter than it had been to make sure new members were better prepared for membership.