Turkish Businessman Sues Croatia Over Geothermal Power Plant Project

By 8 December 2021
Turkish Businessman Sues Croatia Over Geothermal Power Plant Project
By Adrian Grycuk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 pl,

ZAGREB, 8 Dec, 2021 - Turkish businessman Muharrem Balat and his Croatian subsidiary BLT have sued Croatia to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)  following a series of court decisions in which his right to enjoy his property and access to a fair trial have been violated.

BLT represents the Turkish MB Holding, which has launched the first geothermal power plant in Croatia at Velika Ciglena near Bjelovar.

Balat's former associates and once minority partner Dragan Juril are locked in a legal dispute over the power station, which is due to receive more than HRK 1 billion in state incentives until 2031.

Jurilj and his Geothermal Solutions, which held a 20% share of the company Geoen d.o.o., as the project leader, managed to oust the Turkish investor, who owned 80% of the company, from the Zagreb Commercial Court register and take over Geoen.

The ownership of the land on which the power station was built has also been transferred to the minority partner, Jurilj.

According to media reports, the two parties to the dispute have been quietly "at war" for the past few years, but problems escalated when the two took the issue to the courts and filed about 30 lawsuits against each other.

The application before the ECHR says that the High Commercial Court, in its ruling of 26 February 2021, incorrectly applied substantive law denying BLT effective legal protection before the court.

The main issue is that BLT's ownership stake in Geoen was removed from the court register and transferred to the minority owner Geothermal Solutions.

BLT claims that the company's rights have been violated, adding that as the majority owner it provided the financing for the construction of the power plant and the know-how.

Balat has turned to the ECHR because a complaint filed with the Constitutional Court was unsuccessful. The Constitutional Court decided that it would not deal with this case and BLT claims that it was not given access to minimum legal protection regarding its share in Geoen.

Jurilj, on the other hand, denies that the Turkish partner was not given access to a fair trial. "All the processes are legitimate and each investor in Croatia is obliged to respect final court rulings, whether they are satisfied with them or not," said Jurilj.

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