Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic on Wednesday reiterated his confidence that First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko had not done anything that would harm the state's interest with regard to the arbitration procedures between Croatia and the Hungarian MOL oil company.
The Conflict of Interest Commission decided on Wednesday to launch an inquiry concerning the first deputy prime minister to determine whether he was in conflict of interest due to business relations between his wife Ana and their friend Josip Petrovic who is a consultant for MOL and so reporters questioned the prime minister if Karamarko still enjoyed his trust when it came to INA.
The prime minister recalled his statement last week when the entire case was made public and today he reiterated that he believed that Karamarko "had not done anything bad toward the Republic of Croatia." "And I'll leave it that," he said then and again today.
Oreskovic recalled his statement that with regard to INA he would in his capacity as prime minister take responsibility and form a team to prepare a strategy of relations between Croatia and MOL.
There are currently two arbitration procedures in process regarding relations between the state and MOL in the INA oil company.
One procedure was launched in November 2013 by MOL before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington to determine whether the agreement with Croatia on gas business was being fulfilled. According to the agreement Croatia obliged to store, sell and purchase gas at market prices for a period of 15 years.
The second procedure was launched in January 2014 by Croatia against MOL before the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law seeking an annulment of a 2009 agreement which transferred management rights in Croatia's INA oil company to MOL. Both companies are seeking compensation.
"I will set up a group and then together, as a team, we will define a strategy that will be in the best interest for Croatia and then we will go ahead," Oreskovic said at a news conference at which he also commented on the European Commission's assessment of Croatia's national reform programme.
The Conflict of Interest Commission has asked First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko to present a written submission within 15 days whether as a member of the government he participated in any discussion or decision making on the government's attitude and policies related to the arbitration procedures between Croatia and MOL, considering the business relations between his wife's company and the consulting firm owned by entrepreneur Petrovic.
The commission launched the procedure to determine whether to inquire into a possible conflict of interest at the request of Karamarko after reports in the media which Karamarko qualified as insinuations and misinformation.