zdravko marić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Maric, who attended a meeting of the EU finance ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, held talks on the margins of that event with Commissioner Jonathan Hill, in charge of financial stability, financial services and capital markets union. 

"We have a very good and open communication with Commissioner Hill, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici and other commissioners. I believe that the last answer from the EC regarding our reform programme and convergence programme clearly shows it. We briefly discussed that today too. I believe that recommendations we received from the EC are very constructive and we agree, to a large extent if not totally, on what is good," Maric said.

The two officials also discussed Croatia's law on the conversion of loans pegged to the Swiss franc to ones indexed in euros, which Commissioner Hill recently criticised.

"As for the Swiss franc (case), I will say what I said recently in Zagreb: There are no significantly new elements. We have started talks with banks just to establish what our positions are. No procedures have been launched in terms of international arbitration and court proceedings. However, the EC encourages both sides to continue that dialogue," Maric said.

He added that he did not agree with former Finance Minister Boris Lalovac who said that it was not good that the government was starting talks with banks, that the loan conversion law should continue to be implemented and that no concessions should be made to banks.

"There are, of course, differences of opinion. We believe that things cannot be resolved without dialogue, without prejudging any final solution. Without talks we will definitely not arrive at a solution," Maric said.

He added that the loan conversion had been fully carried out, that 94% of loan holders who used to have loans pegged to the Swiss franc had converted those loans and that there was no going back to the beginning.

"That is not an option," Maric said, adding that it was difficult to say when the issue could be solved.

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