Orbán: Croatian relations more important than INA deal

Issues

Two days after the Hungarian government announced that the state-owned oil-and-gas giant MOL was advised to consider selling off its shares in Croatia-based INA, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shed some light on the move this morning.

In an appearance on a Kossuth Rádió morning news show, Orbán stated that “The extraordinary quality of the relationship between Hungary and Croatia is of great value, of such value that it cannot be ruined by a question of a company or a question of business.” 

Therefore, “Because our long-term friendship is more important than a concrete business deal, we propose that the Croatians ... consider taking [MOL’s stake in INA] into state hands.”

This week has also seen the Hungarian government labelling their Croatian counterparts as acting “un-businesslike” and applying undue “pressure” in their approach to negotiations with MOL; Orbán pushed this line on the program, explaining that “This business conflict must be managed as a business conflict.”

An already troubled relationship between the two parties over INA, of which MOL owns over 49% and the Croatian national government over 44%, has been exacerbated this week. As the negotiations play out, an Interpol warrant has been issued for MOL CEO Zsolt Hernádi, who is wanted for questioning for his role in a 2008 bribery case involving former Croatia prime minister Ivo Sanader.

As for said warrant for Hernádi, news service MTI is reporting that the Hungarian Justice Department has in fact received such a notice – but in Croatian. Ministry Spokesman Anna Isola explained that no action can thus be taken at present because, due to European Union regulations, the warrant “should have been sent in Hungarian, English, German or French.”

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