The trade union in the oil refinery in Sisak, owned by the INA oil company, on Monday evening cautioned the current government against any plans to abandon the ongoing arbitration proceedings with Hungary's MOL regarding INA, and the union called "Stozer Za Obranu Rafinerije" brands any attempt to drop the arbitration as high treason.
"Now when all indicators show that Croatia has a good position in the arbitration proceedings and when this is publicly stated in the media by the politicians in the government and those in the opposition, any withdrawal from the arbitrations is regarded by the "Stozer" as the betrayal of the Croatian national interests," the union said in the press release.
While the government members from the Bridge reformist party insist that Croatian should go on with the arbitration proceedings in this case, the Croatian SMEs Minister Darko Horvat of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said on Monday no arbitration should have been launched between Croatia and Hungary's MOL over INA, and raised the question who would pay costs in the event that the Croatian side lost the arbitration.
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 government of former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader who used to be the HDZ leader at the time.
The Croatian government has a 44.84% stake in INA and MOL 49.1%.
The arbitration suit was filed a day after a third round of negotiations between the Croatian government and MOL on INA's future. The negotiations began in mid-September 2013 and the third round of talks was held on January 16.
In November 2013, 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.