miro kovač.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Miro Kovac, a senior official of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), on Saturday expressed confidence that the parliamentary Conflict of Interest Commission would establish that there had been no conflict of interest on the part of First Deputy Prime Minister and HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko, while Hrid party chief Drago Prgomet said the scandal caused by a business relationship between Karamarko's wife and Josip Petrovic, a consultant for the Hungarian oil company MOL, was too big a burden both for Karamarko and his party.

"Mr Karamarko was very clear about everything. I'm confident that there was no conflict of interest whatsoever," Kovac said while answering reporters' questions after an event marking the 27th anniversary of the establishment of the HSLS party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, which he attended as a guest and representative of the HDZ.

Kovac said he believed that the affair was merely a result of political games designed to cover up the inefficiency and lack of ideas of the Opposition.

"The Opposition lacks any initiative and is occupied with impeachment requests. They won't pass," said Kovac.

Asked if during his visit to Hungary he had discussed the current situation in INA-MOL relations, Kovac said that there were mechanisms of cooperation. The arbitration on INA will continue, he said.

Bridge member and member of Parliament Juro Martinovic said that the Opposition's request for a vote of no confidence in Karamarko was an attempt to destabilise the parliamentary majority and provoke a reshuffle or an early election. "It does not suit either Bridge or me personally," said Martinovic, stressing that as part of the parliamentary majority, he would not do anything to jeopardise it.

Asked how the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) would vote in the parliament in case of a vote of no confidence in Karamarko, HSS leader Kreso Beljak, who also attended the HSLS event, said that "It's not good to shift the decision onto the HSS."

"People in Bridge know what they are doing so let them act in line with their own conscience. They have been saying the whole time that Croatia comes first for them and that they will not allow any corruption, they are welcome now to practice what they preach," Beljak said, adding that the scandal had caused great damage.

Drago Prgomet of Hrid said that Karamarko currently did not enjoy his party's trust because the political burden on him was too big.

"The burden on Karamarko is too big, considering the documents that were leaked. It is also too big for the party and for the government," said Prgomet, while Beljak said that there was still not sufficient information on the affair and that Bridge should state its position on the matter.

Beljak also commented on pro-life and pro-choice rallies held earlier in the day in Zagreb, saying that it was sad that under the pretext of fighting for life, some people were promoting retrograde ideas such as a ban on abortion.

"It is sad that no one, including liberals, has raised their voice in defence of women's rights," he said.

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