Croatian SMEs Minister Darko Horvat of the and 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.
"I have presented my position about the arbitration proceedings on several occasions. I do not think that arbitration should have been launched at all. Arbitration proceedings are very expensive for Croatia," said Horvat.
He also wondered about the sources of funds to cover costs if Zagreb lost the case, thus reflecting the position that it might be advisable for Croatia to abandon the arbitration regarding INA.
Minister Horvat said he would not want to prejudge any outcome, but he would like to see that in parallel with the arbitration, "Croatia enters a system of negotiations with counterparts from the Hungarian Mol, that is our strategic partner."
He cautioned that Croatia might wait for the outcome of the arbitration for 3, 5, 7 or 15 years and during that time "INA should operate, too" and become a regional protagonist".
A few days ago, Deputy Prime Minister and Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov said that abandoning the arbitration process would be damaging.
"I don't think that cooperation may be agreed upon through ultimatums," Petrov said.
The Jutarnji List daily has claimed that leaders of the HDZ and of the BrIdge party met this past Thursday when the HDZ reportedly insisted on deciding on Croatia's withdrawal from the arbitration with Hungary's MOL over INA, and on having its men at the helm of the police directorate and police serious fraud investigation office (PNUSKOK).
Petrov said that abandoning the arbitration process would be pernicious.
"We have reasons for optimism about arbitration," Petrov told the Croatian Radio recently.