ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia’s technocrat Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said on Friday he had no plans to resign under pressure from the conservative HDZ party, the biggest in the ruling coalition.
The HDZ filed a no-confidence motion against Oreskovic on Tuesday over his handling of a political row between the HDZ and its junior coalition partner, the Most (“Bridge”) party.
“I can’t step down as it would mean I’m guilty and accept false accusations against me. I want to respond to it in the parliament which approved me as prime minister. It is a matter of honor,” Oreskovic told reporters.
The HDZ has accused Oreskovic of trying to boost his own political power instead of tackling economic priorities.
The HDZ has voiced confidence it can gather a new parliamentary majority, but analysts believe this will be very difficult to achieve without Most.
It said late on Friday it would nominate Finance Minister Zdravko Maric for a prime minister-designate.
“We wouldn’t say that if we were not sure in a new parliamentary majority,” HDZ Vice-President Oleg Butkovic was quoted as saying by state news agency Hina.
Most’s leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Bozo Petrov, has also dismissed the HDZ call for Prime Minister Oreskovic, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko, who is also leader of the HDZ, and Petrov himself to step down.
Most wants Karamarko to leave the government because of an alleged conflict of interest arising from his wife’s business ties with a lobbyist for Hungarian energy group MOL, the biggest shareholder in Croatian utility INA.
The government in Zagreb and MOL are in dispute over management rights and investment strategy at INA.
A vote on the HDZ’s motion against Oreskovic is expected to take place next Thursday or Friday.
“I still hope reason will prevail and that this government, with some changes, will be able to carry on,” Oreskovic said.
If the government is voted out and no one can secure the support of a majority of deputies for the formation of a new cabinet within 30 days, President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic must call a snap election.
Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Richard Balmforth