By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb
The fifth round of negotiations between the Government and MOL on the future of INA held on Friday ended without results and progress, and as MOL teamstated, they were unable to agree on anything with the Government representatives, not even on a joint statement, the croatian media reported.
The Head of the Croatian negotiating team, Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak regrets the outcome but notes that”as long as we’re co-owners, we mustn’t lose hope”.
He said that MOL offered no specific proposal, just like in the last ten months. “We were even told that we will not receive any proposal”, added Vrdoljak.
According to his recent statement for Bloomberg, Vrdoljak pointed that potential purchase and returningof INA into Croatian hands is one of the options and announced that in that sense, he’ll do everything he can, without increasing public debt.
“Unfortunately, the minister couldn’t convey us the official position of the Government regarding the proposal of corporate governance proposed by the supervisory board of INA, nor could he confirm whether the deconsolidation of the INA from MOL’s financial statements is a condition of the Croatian Government. Unfortunately, once again we were not able to discuss business issues and, despite previous promises from the Minister, we have not heard any proposals to improve the regulatory environment. Given that these issues are very important for the further development of INA, we are deeply concerned that no progress has been made today”, MOL announced after the meeting in Zagreb.
Vrdoljak strongly rejected MOL’s announcement, published in the Financial Times, and without hesitation said that the Hungarians are lying in order to personally discredit him.
The Economy Minister claimes that “we have a snapshot of the negotiations and we’re ready to go public unless the announcement is refuted”.
“I can not speculate, but we know how much public debt is and we know what are the rules of the game. So, there are priorities. The amounts involved in the media are huge. At this point we don’t have that kind of money but, I say, it’s all speculation”, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said, reiterating that the Government has a framework for negotiations with MOL on INA.
Over the weekend Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said that he has full confidence in the government over the negotiations with the Hungarian MOL on regulating their relations in Ina, describing it necessary to find a new modus operandi in INA stressing that negotiations may still take a while and that patience is crucial.
Vrdoljak’s idea that Croatia should buy INA shares incited various reactions so Entrepreneurship Minister Gordan Maras said that the Social democratic party supported the protection of national interests and the development of INA, but before it goes public it should have clear solutions rather than assumptions and speculations.
The CEO of MOL Zoltan Aldott said on Sunday, in an appearance on Nova TV that the Hungarian oil company still wants to remain a strategic partner in INA.
Aldott noted that MOL invested a lot in INA and “we want a strong company in Croatia and the region”.
The Head of MOL declined to comment on Vrdoljak’s announcement on the purchase of INA shares from MOL.