vlaho orepić.jpg
Photograph: Hina/ Dario GRZELJ/ dag

The authorities in Croatia should punish Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko's unacceptable behaviour, or we should go to the polls for a parliamentary election, Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic said on Friday.

"At this moment it is very important to see what everyone wants to conceal - are the current authorities capable of punishing what is evidently unacceptable behaviour of a senior office-holder in the Croatian government, regardless of who he is, even if it's Mr. Tomislav Karamarko," Orepic told Croatian reporters in Luxembourg where he arrived for a ministerial meeting of the EU member-states.

"When that behaviour is punished, we can go on more resolutely. If we cannot do so, we should go to the polls," Orepic, a Bridge official, said.

Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov of the Bridge party said on Thursday that neither he nor Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic would step down and that the other Deputy Prime Minister, HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, is the only one who should resign. Petrov recalled that the entire imbroglio had been caused by the "political responsibility of one man", referring to Karamarko and his alleged conflict of interest stemming from business ties between his wife Ana and their family friend Josip Petrovic, a lobbyist for Hungary's MOL, with which the Croatian government is in dispute over management rights and the investment strategy in Croatia's oil and gas group INA.

Orepic said today that it was Bridge representatives who "detected the problem and pointed to it".

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