Economy Minister Dalić Travels to Russia to Discuss Agrokor

By 2 June 2017

Agrokor is certain to dominate her visit.

In the midst of a new crisis between Sberbank and the Croatian authorities regarding Agrokor loans, Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Martina Dalić is taking part in an economic forum in St. Petersburg in Russia, reports Jutarnji List on June 2, 2017.

According to reports, Dalić traveled to the economic forum in the second largest Russian city at the invitation of the organisers. The invitation was allegedly sent by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.

Dalić is expected to spend two days in St. Petersburg. While she will participate in the forum as an “ordinary” participant, her presence at the event is far from ordinary. In fact, one of the main participants of the forum, and also one of the organisers, is German Gref, the head of Sberbank - the principal creditor of Agrokor. It is not known whether or not Dalić would meet with him or with any other participant on the sidelines of the forum. “There is a possibility that Dalić will meet with Gref or someone else while there,” says a source, adding that, however, there is still no confirmation.

Dalić’s visit to St. Petersburg is taking place at a time when the relations between Sberbank and the Croatian authorities are tense. Earlier this week, Maksim Poletajev, the second highest Sberbank official, visited Zagreb and met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Dalić. Sberbank has conditioned the resumption of providing loans to Agrokor with a change in the attitude of Croatian authorities towards the Russian bank.

Moreover, the biggest Russian bank has made it clear that it is not satisfied with the “Lex Agrokor” law which the government adopted, and has also criticised Ante Ramljak as the government-appointed Commissioner for the embattled company. In such tense times, Dalić’s visit to St. Petersburg should soften the current tough stance from the Russian side. That is why her meetings with Russian officials are expected.

Her visit to the forum can be viewed in the context of Prime Minister Plenković’s statement that the government is in a constant dialogue with Sberbank. Also, the participation of the Deputy Prime Minister in such an important forum can be explained as a new attempt to defrost Croatian-Russian relations.

The focus of the 20th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg is the cooperation of Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union, consisting of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, with Serbia and India. The forum is being held under the patronage of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Organisers of the forum are the Russian authorities and large Russian corporations, including Sberbank and major companies from the energy sector.