mol janaf ina naftovod.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ MOL/ ds

Businessman Josip Petrovic whom the Bridge reformist party accused of working against Croatia's state interests in his capacity as a consultant of Hungary's MOL oil and gas group which owns slightly less than 50% in Croatia's INA, on Wednesday dismissed the accusations and explained that his relationship with HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko stemmed from "sports days", referring to the fact that both are active in a basketball club.

Petrovic's press release was prompted by Bridge leader Bozo Petrov's statement on Tuesday that "much is at stake regarding the INA oil company."

"Because of last week's developments, I believe it is very clear which interest groups are opposed to order and a functioning system. We don't criticise, but we will definitely block every attempt to sell out national interests, because we don't want to betray Croatia, and I congratulate all those who have the stomach to launch a government reshuffle with the people who ended up arrested on several occasions on criminal charges," Petrov said yesterday.

In this context Petrov pointed the accusing finger at Petrovic who, according to media testified as a witness for MOL in arbitration proceedings which this Hungarian company launched against Croatia over the case of INA.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Bridge leader Bozo Petrov insisted in his comments that it is strange that a consultant for a foreign company "who thus does not work for Croatia's interests" is bragging that he is "on good terms" with First Deputy Prime Minister and HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko. In addition, Petrov has called on Karamarko to publicly distance himself from the consultant of the foreign company.

In his response, Petrovic raised the question of "whether it is forbidden in Croatia to be a consultant of an international corporation which is active in more than 20 countries in Europe and worldwide."

Petrovic also insists that he and other Croatians employed in MOL "know very well which Croatia's interests are and how they can be protected."

"This is exactly what we have been doing and we will continue to protect them regardless of cheap political insinuations," Petrovic writes in his press release.

As for his relationship with Karamarko, Peterovic said he had made acquaintance of him in a sports club and that they had never discussed topics such as the INA-MOL case.

Petrovic, a former executive in INA, came into the limelight during investigations against former Prime Minister and HDZ leader Ivo Sanader accused of corruption and other murky dealings.

In 2012, Petrovic was interrogated as a witness in the investigation against Sanader regarding speculations that MOL was given more management rights in INA in a questionable manner. During the questioning Petrovic refuted claims about his influence and his testimony differed from a testimony of key witness Rober Jezic.

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