Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic said on Wednesday that the latest escalation in relations between the ruling partners Bridge and HDZ over the INA-MOL dispute was the result of many interests that were trying to destabilise the situation during the arbitration process.
"Since our ministry is responsible for the implementation of the arbitration procedure in the INA case, which involves two parties - Croatia and MOL, I can say that the arbitration proceedings are nearing completion, the presentation of evidence has been concluded and a ruling is expected to be delivered soon. There seem to be many interests trying to destabilise the situation in Croatia," Panenic, a member of the Bridge party, said in an interview with Croatian Radio. He added that he expected a positive outcome.
In November 2013, the Hungarian oil and gas group MOL asked the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to initiate arbitration against the Croatian government for violating its commitments and procedures in connection with MOL's investments in Croatia.
In January 2014, Croatia's SDP-led government filed an arbitration suit against MOL with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in Geneva, asking it to declare null and void the 2009 amended agreement on management rights in INA and the main agreement on the gas business. Croatia also sought compensation for the damage caused by these agreements, which were signed during the term of the previous HDZ-led government of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.
The Croatian government has a 44.84% stake in INA and MOL holds 49.1%.
Panenic said that the decisions made by some of the previous Croatian government officials were refuted during the arbitration. He said that there were a series of "inarticulate statements, partly incorrect and partly correct", even from people who should not be discussing the matter at all.
"Such statements are harmful to us as a state that is trying to attract investors. While on the one hand we need to ensure legal security, on the other hand we are giving a chaotic portrayal of the present situation, although the government has stepped up efforts to implement decisions," Panenic said.
Panenic said that a lot of senior officials were mentioned in connection with the INA-MOL dispute, the latest being the wife of First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko. He said that the competent authorities should investigate the whole case and shed light on the allegations by unnamed sources.