21:49 / 21.02.2022.

Author: Katja Miličić

State Secretary to will fill in for Horvat until a new construction minister is named

Andrej Plenković

Andrej Plenković

Foto: Josip Regovic / PIXSELL

Dunja Magaš, a state secretary at the Ministry of Construction, Spatial Planning, and State Property, will serve as interim minister until a formal candidate is named to replace Darko Horvat.

Horvat remains in investigative custody after his arrest on Saturday. He is suspected of handing out illegal subsidies while he was economy minister in 2018, under a program that was intended to boost small businesses in minority-populated parts of the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević, a member of the Independent Serb Democratic Party, is also under investigation in the same case. Milošević denies any wrongdoing and said he would step down if the PM so wishes.

This latest corruption investigation has kicked up a political storm for Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's government. The opposition is calling for snap elections.

Nikola Grmoja said his party, Most, would simultaneously press for the dissolution of parliament and seek the support of other opposition MPs in recalling Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić. Grmoja also went after Independent Democratic Serb Party leader Milorad Pupovac, who he suggested was in on the alleged illegal subsidy deals Milošević was making.

"I'd like to ask just one question: Why hasn't Milorad Pupovac been arrested since was at the meetings where the allocation of subsidies for firms that did not meet the criteria were being arranged. And not only him, MP Jecko, as well. It is clear that Deputy PM Boris Milošević was not acting alone but was taking orders from Milorad Pupovac who is pulling all the strings as the HDZ's main coalition partner,” Grmoja said.

Pupovac responded by saying he and his colleague did nothing wrong. 

"If someone wants to label a colleague or defame them, he is free to continue to do so but he should know that there is no evidence in our actions of what he is suggesting and describing,” Pupovac said.

Mišel Jakšić of the SDP joined calls for a snap election.

"I think the opposition needs to show a high level of responsibility on this issue and that is to work together to push for a snap election and to show the public that it is not a normal state of affairs for government ministers to get arrested," Jakšić said.

The leadership of the HDZ met on Monday evening to address how to proceed in the wake of Darko Horvat's arrest. The leader of the HDZ in the Sabor, Branko Bačić said there had been no discussion of a cabinet reshuffle and that a new minister would be named next week.

Asked about the stability of the majority in parliament, HDZ MP Davor Ivo Stier said he believed the government had the support of the majority.

"The Government is leading a number of very important processes like the adoption of the Euro and joining the Schengen Area, which are very important in the current geopolitical situation. In that sense, I think we need to support the Government," said Stier.

Representatives of the ruling coalition are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to address the current political situation, the Government said.

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