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Orbán meets with Croatian head of state

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in Parliament Tuesday, the PMʼs press chief Bertalan Havasi said, according to state news wire MTI.  The dispute between MOL and the Croatian government was covered, among other issues.

Orbán meets with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (Photo: kormany.hu / Balázs Szecsődi)

The sides agreed that countries in the region must band together in debates about the future of Europe, said Havasi. They also acknowledged that the situation of Croatian and Hungarian minorities in their respective countries is good, he added.   

"Matters of debate between Hungary and Croatia were brought up at the meeting, with regard to which the Hungarian prime minister and the president of the Republic of Croatia both confirmed stands they had expressed earlier," Havasi said. 

Hungary withheld its support for Croatiaʼs accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at a meeting of the latterʼs decision-making body in Paris last Friday, saying "the situation surrounding MOLʼs investments in Croatia, as well as Croatiaʼs conduct against MOLʼs head, justified the denial of support."

MOL has been in a long-running dispute with the Croatian government over the running of Croatian energy company INA. Both hold just under half of INAʼs shares, but MOL exercises management rights in the company.

Croatia earlier issued an arrest warrant for MOLʼs Chairman-CEO Zsolt Hernádi on suspicion he bribed the countryʼs former prime minister to give MOL management rights in INA. Hernádi was acquitted on charges of international bribery by a Hungarian court, and a subsequent petition by the Croatian government to the Arbitral Tribunal of the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), accusing MOL of bribery and alleged breaches of a shareholdersʼ agreement, fell on deaf ears.

Croatiaʼs government has since said it wants to buy back MOLʼs stake in INA and advisors are working on the matter.

Quoted in a report on English-language Croatian news site total-croatia-news.com prior to her visit, Grabar-Kitarović said she hoped she would receive "some sort of further explanation" for Hungaryʼs decision to block Croatianʼs OECD membership, noting that she was "unpleasantly surprised" by the move.