Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's nominees for deputy prime minister and economy minister, Tomislav Tolušić and Darko Horvat, recieved backing from two committees in parliament today.
Tomislav Tolušić and Darko Horvat are slated to replace the positions vacated by Martina Dalić, who resigned last week after her private emails showed a group of lawyers and financial experts helped draft the Agrokor law and several were later hired as consultants in the company's restructuring.
The nominees appeared in front of a joint session of the Economy and Constitution committees to answer questions from lawmakers, but the opposition was more interested in getting answers from Prime Minister Plenković about the alleged conflict of interest scandal, which has been dubbed the Hotmail affair in the Croatian press.
Opposition members of the two committees, primarily from the SDP, pressed Prime Minister to answer questions which lead to a confrontation between the chair of the joint session, Željko Reiner of the HDZ, and SDP committee member Gordan Maras, who said that Dalić's removal from office was not enough and that the breach called for new parliamentary elections.
The prime minister conceded little ground and said the mistake had been remedied.
“In my opinion, the only mistake made in this process was the fact that those who assisted in drafting the law were later hired as subcontractors of international financial advisors. That was wrong and that is why the first special administrator stepped down and why the deputy prime minister and economy minister tendered her resignation. That's a fact. This was an extraordinary situation and it called for extraordinary measures,” Plenković said.
SDP MP Arsen Bauk pressed Tolušić, who will be taking responsibility for the Agrokor issue as the deputy prime minister for matters concerning the economy, about whether the government was standing by its position that the consultants who appear to be in a serious conflict of interest should return the millions of kuna they earned from Agrokor.
“The government didn't hire anyone. The consultants hired by the creditors contracted them. We can discuss if this was ethical or unethical, but the fact is none of us were aware of this," Tolušić answered.
Prime Minister Plenković concluded that the parliamentary majority and coalition government were stable, and had no intention of yielding to pressure from the opposition, the media, or outside interests. A confirmation vote on the nominees is expected this Friday.