Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister resigns over Agrokor debt crisis – EURACTIV.com
Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister resigned on Monday (Monday 14) after pressure from coalition partners and the public over her alleged conflict of interest in restructuring the country’s largest private company, debt-ridden food and retail group Agrokor.
Martina Dalić was a close ally of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, whose conservative HDZ party has a razor-thin majority in parliament thanks to a coalition with two junior partners and ethnic minorities.
“In this incredible tangle of interests and circumstances, I have proved to be a liability to the prime minister, the government and the HDZ, which I do not want to be,” Dalić said at a press conference in Zagreb. Her successor was not immediately named.
Dalić, who is also economy minister, led efforts to rescue Agrokor after it accumulated life-threatening debt during its expansion rush and was placed under state administration in April 2017.
“My political task was to find a solution and prevent the collapse of Agrokor, which would have plunged the entire economy back into recession… The task was accomplished,” she said, adding that they “didn’t do anything wrong, illegal or.” done immoral things”. .
Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, suffered a deep recession from 2008 to 2015 as its economy, heavily dependent on tourism and services, began to grow again.
Last Wednesday, local news outlet Index.hr published an alleged year-old email correspondence between Dalić and financial and legal experts she consulted on drafting an emergency law to keep the company – the Balkans’ biggest employer – from bankruptcy to rescue.
Some of the experts were later hired as consultants in the restructuring process for large fees, sparking the opposition’s conflict of interest lawsuit.
Dalić denied the allegation on Friday, saying the emails were taken out of context. In her parting words on Monday, she called for a “full investigation into who exactly published the fragments of my communication, not because of me, but because it is important for state institutions”.
“Unauthorized access to and dissemination of another person’s email is a crime under our law,” she concluded.
The opposition, led by the Social Democrats and the centre-right Most (Croatian for “bridge”) party, has previously highlighted Dalić’s role over Agrokor, and it survived a no-confidence vote in parliament last month.
Agrokor’s creditors, which include foreign and local banks, agreed on the terms of debt repayment last month. They must be approved in a vote before July 10 to keep the company, which employs more than 60,000 people, from going bankrupt.