The Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Tuesday refuted in the strongest terms allegations that SDP chief and former prime minister Zoran Milanovic and his family used catering services in the state-owned villa Costabella, saying that such services were used exclusively for official meetings.

The SDP said this in reaction to the statement by the Interior Ministry which claims that representation and catering costs in the said villa were significantly higher during Milanovic's government and during his four year term the cost reached a total of HRK 742,000.

The SDP claims that the accommodation of guests at the villa is approved by the interior minister and that last year (during the SDP-led government), numerous foreign ministers and statesmen stayed there, adding that sometimes their visits were public, but sometimes they were secret, at their own request.

The SDP claims that until 2012 no invoices were issued specifically for that residence, adding that it did not understand where the ministry got the figures according to which those costs were significantly lower in years before the SDP-led government.

The SDP said that the villa had been used for private purposes by several HDZ ministers since 1995.

In his capacity as prime minister, Zoran Milanovic did not used catering services for private purposes,and expenses he generated cannot be compared to the expenses generated by outgoing prime minister Tihomir Oreskovic whose family vacationed at the villa this summer for a month and used catering services, the SDP said.

The party claims Milanovic stayed at the villa with his family twice last summer but they bought and prepared their own food.

The SDP criticised the Interior Ministry saying that it first claimed it could not release the cost of Oreskovic's stay at the villa because he was a protected person and then made the invoices available to the public. The SDP is confident that this was done to justify the costs Oreskovic had generated.

The party also claims that Oreskovic cannot meet his promise that he would cover the costs by himself because there is no legal basis for that.

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