Tomislav Panenić.jpg
Photograph: Hina/ Dario GRZELJ/ dag

Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic of the Bridge party said on Monday the party was united and homogeneous, and that all Bridge ministers, if so decided, would leave the government and the the party's MPs would vote for the impeachment of First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Asked how the party would act if a vote of no-confidence in Karamarko was not supported by the necessary majority of MPs, Panenic said the Bridge National Council would make the appropriate decision. "But let's wait for the whole procedure to end," he told reporters.

If the Bridge National Council adopt a decision to leave the government, all of the party's ministers will do so, Panenic said.

Asked if he expected Karamarko to step down, he said, "We voted for that." He added that Bridge MPs would also vote to that effect.

He said the current crisis was temporary.

Regarding disputes and estimates concerning the continuation of arbitration proceedings which Croatia instigated against the Hungarian company MOL over the management of Croatia's INA, Panenic said the proceedings should continue, otherwise it would mean going back to the contract from 2009, which he said was very harmful for Croatia, preventing investment in refineries, expansion of INA's sales, and new research.

Asked if he had something to say to Karamarko, who sees attorney costs as a problem if arbitration were to continue, Panenic said those costs amounted to millions of kuna and were significantly lower than the billions in damage which would be caused if the proceedings were dropped.

If we give up, we are going back to the position in which, by taking over the gas business, we lost several billion kuna, he added.

Panenic did not rule out the resumption of negotiations with MOL and did not think that the arbitration proceedings were an obstacle, but stressed that Croatia's negotiating position in both cases was going back to the situation before 2009, when INA's management was turned over to MOL.

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