Plenkovic says wasn't aware of Agrokor restructuring consultants' fees

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday he had not known about the fees of the consultants for the restructuring of the Agrokor group, adding that he did not support their amounts, that he would give his assessment after examining a report from Agrokor emergency administrator Ante Ramljak and that, in the Agrokor case, the government had done the only right decision by adopting a law on emergency administration in systemic companies.

He was responding to questions from Croatian reporters covering his visit to Strasbourg after a European Parliament plenary session.

They asked him if he had seen Ramljak's report, if the consultants' salaries were too high and if he saw anything contentious in the fact that some had worked in the company in which Ramljak used to work.

"In my decisions I will look at the big picture and I will analyse this specific question in great detail, because I think that's my key responsibility as the prime minister and the person who... has taken on the entire political burden of this process," Plenkovic said, referring to the restructuring of the indebted food and retail group.

He said he had not known about the consultants' fees, recently published by the media. "Generally, I can say that's not good."

He added that what was essential to him was that, "as the crisis in the biggest Croatian company has dominated the political, economic and media spheres" over the past year, "we made the only possible, right and key move" by adopting the law on emergency administration in companies of systemic importance.

Plenkovic reiterated that the government's intention had been to protect Croatia's state interests, jobs, the economy, and suppliers, notably small and medium-sized ones.

"I think we have been steering this process very well. We have managed to pay all small suppliers, those up to HRK 5.2 million, which wouldn't have been done without such special legislation. Classic insolvency law wouldn't have made it possible, this law has," he said, adding that now "we are at the stage of reaching a final agreement, the settlement stage."

Speaking about Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's visit to Croatia on 12-13 February, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that there was no disagreement concerning that topic, adding that he had recently met with Vucic on several occasions, including Paris and then in Davos.

"In the meantime the exhibition in UN headquarters in New York occurred. Some very serious, incorrect, misinformed and wrong insinuations by the (Serbian) foreign affairs minister (Ivica Dacic) occurred who directly called me out for not visiting Jasenovac and not condemning the Holocaust and everything that occurred in that concentration camp during the WWII NDH regime. That is why  our Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs reacted," Plenkovic said.

"Had the minister called out the President, the ministry would have sent the same (protest) note. These are normal, usual steps where states take account of their dignity and interests (...) we want to conduct a dialogue with all our neighbours and we have to conduct it to resolve outstanding issues," Plenkovic said and added that the 'timing' of a visit is not that important.

Plenkovic regrets Slovenia's unilateral moves

Due to the differing positions over the arbitration agreement on the border, Croatia is offering Slovenia a bilateral agreement that would reconcile the positions of the two countries, Plenkovic told a press conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, expressing regret that Ljubljana had resorted to unilateral measures that have led to negative effects on Croatian citizens, primarily, fishermen.

"Slovenia wants to implement the agreement. We withdrew from it with good reason, not for fun, more than two and a half years ago. What we are offering our friendly and neighbouring country is one way of a bilateral agreement that would settle the attitudes of both countries," he said.

He added that it was necessary to "undramatise," the dispute and that everything was being "exaggerated in the media and politically."

Text: Hina