ivan vrdoljak.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Miljenko KLEPAC/ ik

Croatian People's Party (HNS) deputy leader and former economy minister Ivan Vrdoljak said on Saturday he was not surprised that Moody's ratings agency had downgraded Croatia's long-term credit rating.

"They (the agency's officials) visited the institutions a few weeks ago and this is their conclusion. We all knew it, it was just a matter of time before Croatia started paying the price for the present instability and its failure to agree on and implement reforms," Vrdoljak told the press after a meeting of the HNS main committee that nominated him for the party's leader ahead of an election convention scheduled for April 16.

Vrdoljak stressed that political and institutional instability was key to attracting investment. "Investments won't come to a politically and institutionally unstable country, which is happening now. They will come with repeated elections, with a stable government and resolute, reform-oriented and not populist decisions," he said when asked about the effect of the decision by all three leading rating agencies to lower Croatia's rating two notches below investment grade.

He boasted that last year, during the term of the previous government in which he had served as economy minister, industrial production and exports had grown. "We managed to put things in order and lay the foundation for creating added values, but they will not be achieved through quarrels, insecurity, ignorance, blackmail and experiments," he said.

Moody's Investors Service on Friday downgraded Croatia's long-term issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings to Ba2 from Ba1 and maintained the negative outlook, saying that the key drivers for its decision were a high public debt and weak medium-term growth prospects. All three leading ratings agencies - Moody's, Fitch and Standard&Poor's - keep Croatia's rating two notches below investment grade, with a negative outlook.

Vrdoljak dismissed criticisms that the agreement he had signed with the Norwegian company Spectrum on oil exploration and exploitation in the Adriatic was a criminal project. "Everyone can see that we made money, we spent nothing, we are the sole owners. Populists should be excluded from political life," he said, adding that he was pleased that the agreement was made public.

The agreement was recently declassified by the High Administrative Court following a request by the H-Alter website. After that there have been accusations in the public that it is a bad deal for Croatia and that the agreement favours Spectrum.

Related stories

Economy minister to meet with Moody's officials

Analysts says Moody's ratings not unexpected

FinMin says gov't won't hesistate and delay reforms

Latest news

SpaceX plans to fly two passengers around moon, NASA involved

SpaceX is planning to fly two private citizens around the moon next year, the first manned trip to the Earth's only natural satellite in more than four decades, the private company said Monday.

Key congressman has 'no evidence' of Trump contacts with Russia

The chairman of the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said he is not aware of any evidence of improper contacts between Russian officials and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gambia's new President Barrow fires army chief

Gambia's new President Adama Barrow has sacked army chief Ousman Badjie, replacing him with a presidential military aide.

Star investor Buffett takes a bigger bite of Apple, doubling shares

Stock market guru Warren Buffett on Monday revealed that his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway doubled its share of iPhone producer Apple stocks last month.

Minister: Erdogan not welcome in Austria for referendum campaign

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not come to Austria to campaign to Turkish citizens living there ahead of a constitutional reform referendum in his country, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Monday.

Migrant group: Britain hits 'new low' by deporting grandmother

Britain has hit a "new low" by deporting a grandmother from north-eastern England to Singapore, a migrants' rights group said on Monday.

Turkish judge remands German reporter in custody

A Turkish judge remanded German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in custody Monday, according to newspaper Die Welt, sparking strong condemnation from the German government and rights organizations.

1.4 million people without water after deadly floods in Chile

More than 1.4 million people were without drinking water in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday following catastrophic flooding that left at least three people dead.

Serbia PM says no snap parliamentary election

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an early parliamentary election would not be held simultaneously with a presidential vote, although the state leadership had announced such a possibility.  

Trump touts 'security budget' with 10-per-cent defence spending hike

US President Donald Trump says he will present a "public security and national security budget" that hikes military spending by 54 billion dollars or about 10 per cent.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for Roma comments

The founder of France's far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a 5,000-euro (5,300-dollar) fine for inciting racial hatred and discrimination confirmed on appeal on Monday.

Croatia-Montenegro relations example for region, says minister

After meeting Croatian Ambassador Veselko Grubisic in Podgorica on Monday, Montenegrin Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro were very good and could serve as an example to other countries in the region.

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

SDP urges gov't to pull statement making radical turn in human rights

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday called on the government to take a position on the Croatian foreign policy's turn in human rights, which it said was initiated by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, and to withdraw a Foreign Ministry statement on that sent to Brussels.

Police says photoshopped photo of Milanka Opacic motivated by hate

An investigation has proved that a photograph showing Parliament Deputy Speaker Milanka Opacic wearing a shirt with four Cyrillic letters "S" (standing for "only unity saves the Serb", a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serb nationalists) is a photomontage and the police suspect that publishing and distributing the said photo has been motivated by hate and intolerance.

Finance Ministry says didn't analyse HEP's readiness for IPO

The Ministry of Finance on Monday announced that it had not analysed the justification or the readiness of power provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) for an initial public offering with regard to a possible acquisition of Hungarian energy company MOL's stake in Croatia's INA.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel condemning the killing as "barbaric" and "abominable".

Syrian refugees arrive in Italy with help from Christian groups

A group of 50 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, landed in Italy early Monday, entering the country on humanitarian visas obtained with the help of a lay Catholic NGO, Protestant organizations and the Italian government.