After Darko Horvat was arrested at the weekend on corruption suspicions, Prime Minister Plenkovic has suggested the timing was designed to undermine his government’s recent achievements.

Croatian PM Criticises Timing of Minister’s Arrest for Corruption

Croatia’s minister Darko Horvat (L) and Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari (R) during an EU Competitiveness Council meeting in Brussels. Photo: EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has criticized Saturday’s arrest of Construction Minister Darko Horvat in a corruption probe as disproportionate, and has called on the State Attorney’s Office, DORH, to explain the reason and timing.

Plenkovic sacked the 51-year-old minister the same day, but also said he suspected the arrest was timed to undermine his government’s accomplishments last week, when it adopted measures designed to mitigate the recent energy price hike.

In addition to this, Plenkovic was at a meeting with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at which he succeeded in extending the deadline for the spending of post-earthquake reconstruction funds.

Plenkovic insisted that the crisis would not dislodge his government or trigger early elections.

“There is no emergency, no snap election; the focus is on what we have been doing the entire time, and that is to fight for the prosperity of Croatian citizens. We will examine this issue in detail,” Plenković said.

However, Pedja Grbin, head of the main opposition Social Democratic Party, SDP, said the arrest only showed that the “criminal organization”, meaning the governing centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, was “back at its old habits”.

“The only problem Plenkovic has is that someone ruined his good week and Saturday morning … This is [all] the responsibility of one man and one man alone – Andrej Plenkovic,” reported him as saying.

Horvat is charged that in 2018, as then Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Proprietorship, he authorized his aid, Ana Mandac, to distribute government subsidies to firms that were not eligible for them and did not fulfill the criteria.

More recently, Horvat, who until Saturday was Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets, has been criticized for the slow pace of post-earthquake reconstruction in Zagreb and central Croatia.

The same corruption investigation has also entangled deputy prime minister Boris Milosevic and other ministers.

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