Deputy Prime Minister and Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov on Monday called on the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) to take an official position on the "consultant affair" and its link to HDZ leader and First Deputy PM Tomislav Karamarko, saying a decision of the Conflict of Interest Commission on the matter "isn't crucial."
"You know which side we are on and what fighting for national interests means to us," Petrov told reporters, adding that "the first that should take a position (on the affair) is the HDZ, and after that the Conflict of Interest Commission. I'm calling on the HDZ to officially say if this is a problem for them or not."
"There is political responsibility, but there should also be the responsibility of all who are involved in this process, and they are Karamarko and the HDZ and the Commission," Petrov said.
Asked how Bridge MPs would vote on a motion to impeach Karamarko if the vote took place before the Commission delivered its findings, he said "there is a number of stakeholders here and it's not just about the Commission."
The Parliament's Conflict of Interest Commission last week week decided to launch an investigation into a case involving Karamarko to determine if he is in a conflict of interest due to a business relationship between his wife Ana and his friend Josip Petrovic, a consultant for the Hungarian oil company MOL.
The Commission is investigating if Karamarko has taken part in any decision-making related to the ongoing arbitration between Croatia and MOL, if that can cause a conflict of interest on his part in the future, and if he has failed to declare the said business relationship.
Croatia and MOL are involved in two arbitration cases regarding management rights in the Croatian oil company INA.
Karamarko has in the meantime withdrawn from any decision-making on INA, owned jointly by the Croatian state and MOL.
Nacional weekly recently published a contract between the agency owned by Karamarko's wife and the company owned by Petrovic. The contract shows that Petrovic paid the agency owned by Karamarko's wife 60,000 euros for advisory and media analysis services in the period after Karamarko was elected HDZ chief and before he came to power.
The opposition Social Democratic Party has submitted a request for a parliamentary vote of no confidence in Karamarko over the business relationship between his wife and Petrovic.