Hungary Joins Slovenia in Blocking Croatia’s OECD Membership

By 9 September 2017

No doubt, there is room for improvement in Croatia’s relationships with its neighbours.

Hungary will not support Croatia's bid for membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) due to its behaviour towards the Hungarian oil company MOL and its CEO Zsolt Hernadi, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry announced on Friday, reports Jutarnji List on September 9, 2017.

In a statement reported by the Hungarian MTI news agency, the Ministry says that the situation regarding MOL's investments in Croatia and the Croatian behaviour towards MOL's CEO Zsolt Hernadí were the main reasons for withdrawing the support.

Croatia has indicted against Hernadi, along with former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, accusing him of bribing Sanader with 10 million euros to sell part of INA's shares to MOL. Hernadi has rejected the accusations, but he has refused to appear in a Croatian court. Croatia has issued an international arrest warrant against Hernadi, who now claims that it is causing problems for his business activities. Hungary and Croatia are also in dispute over MOL’s role in INA, the Croatian national oil company. Each side owns a little bit less than 50 percent of INA’s shares, and there is hardly any agreement about the future development of INA. Late last year, the government announced that it planned to buy back MOL’s share in INA, but the idea seems to be delayed, probably indefinitely.

Hungary announced that it would also not support the Romanian membership bid for the OECD due to the closure of a Catholic high school in Targu Mures, which was attended mostly by Hungarian children, the Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry stated that Hungary had officially announced it would not support the governments in Zagreb and Bucharest at an OECD Council meeting in Paris.

Slovenia announced a few days ago that it would not support Croatia's membership in the OECD because it believes that the Croatia does not respect international law since it does not want to implement the arbitration decision on the Croatian-Slovenian border issue and claims that Slovenia has compromised the arbitration process.

Slovenia announced its position on Wednesday at a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels, when the European Commission reported on the current state of affairs regarding the possible future expansion of the OECD.

The head of the Paris-based organisation, Jose Angel Gurria, was due to present his proposal for future expansion on Friday.

Among EU members states which are not yet members of the OECD, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia have expressed interest in joining. From outside of the EU, Argentina, Brazil and Peru are interested in joining the organisation as well.

The OECD currently has 35 member states, the most economically developed countries in the world. At the beginning of the year, Croatia sent a letter to the OECD about its intention to join the organisation, hoping to start negotiations after a decision on the new round of enlargement.