Parliament opens discussion on Prime Minister Oreskovic impeachment

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The Croatian parliament on Thursday gave a vote of no confidence to Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic and his government.

A total of 125 MPs gave them a vote of no confidence, 15 voted against their impeachment, and two abstained.

Addressing the parliament before his impeachment, Oreskovic expressed hope that Croatian citizens today got the real picture of the reasons of the current political crisis. 

Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said in parliament on Thursday the real reason for the toppling of his government was that, in order to protect national interests, he began work on dealing with the INA-MOL dispute through the continuation of arbitration and the beginning of new negotiations, which he said did not suit some.

"It's no secret that my views on INA, LNG and the energy sector significantly differ from the views of some government members, and that I firmly defended them because I am deeply aware of the importance which INA and the energy sector have for our economy, and I fought to protect our vital interests," Oreskovic said.

Commenting on claims that, by seeking the resignations of his two deputies, he lost the confidence of those who selected him, he said he did that because "the uncertainty over (ex-First Deputy PM) Tomislav Karamarko's possible conflict of interest became too heavy a burden for the incumbent government."

Oreskovic dismissed accusations about a lack of will to cooperate with representatives of the political forces which gave him the vote of confidence. "I tried to actively communicate with Mr. Karamarko but, unfortunately, over the past two months he ignored my calls and didn't show interest in economic topics and reforms."

Oreskovic said it was a lie that he did not take into account the regions from which young people were emigrating because his first official visit was to Slavonia.

"I find especially incomprehensible the argument that I didn't deal with the economy and finances," he said, adding that before taking office, he attended a meeting of about a 100 investors who held a large part of Croatia's public debt.

Oreskovic said he was focused on economic growth from day one. "Employment is rising, salaries are rising, export is rising and all indicators are positive," he said, recalling that the government presented a national reform plan with 50 steps to kickstart Croatia. "LNG, which we have been talking for ten years... This government has defined, within three months, a new strategy for a floating LNG (terminal) and this strategic project will put Croatia on Europe's energy map."

"How to explain that, with such accusations, I was offered the office of deputy prime minister for investments and finance? I have shown that all the stated reasons (for my impeachment) are unfounded," Oreskovic said.

He said the real reason for toppling the government was that, in order to protect national interests, he started work on dealing with the INA-MOL dispute by continuing arbitration and beginning new negotiations, which did not suit some.

"It will remain in the records, if you decide so, that this government fell because of individuals' private interests. I tried to prevent that and that's all I'm guilty of. I have performed my duty honourably and in Croatia's best interest and I am proud of everything I have done," Oreskovic said. 

"I accept responsibility for all omissions. I can peacefully say that I have done my best and I thank for their support the Patriotic Coalition and Bridge, which nominated me for his honourable office. It's up to you, dear deputies, the responsibility to decide whether to topple the government. History is being written today. I deeply hope that Croatia will find the right path and that we will realise our potential, which those who gave their lives and health for Croatia deserve. Too high a price was paid for freedom and democracy and we must not forget that. May God protect Croatia," Oreskovic said.

(Text: Hina)