Borzan: "I Was Not Trying to Favor a Local Tycoon, I Was Thinking of Jobs as a True Social Democrat"

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Zagreb, 010917.
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Na fotografiji: EU zastupnica Biljana Borzan.
Foto: Dragan Matic / CROPIX
Dragan Matić / CROPIX

Hrvatska zastupnica u Europskom parlamentu Biljana Borzan

While MEP Biljana Borzan, the representative of the Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) denies the alligations that she has managed to reach an agreement with the current party vice-president Zlatko Komadina on becoming the new party president, at their most recent meetings some of their party colleagues are already arguing that she should be disqualified for the post.

She is mostly supported by the 'rebel' faction of the party, the group that has been demanding the resignation of the current party president Davor Bernardić but is acceptable to the opposing group led by Komadina.

Moreover, she scores well in the public opinion polls. Given the fact that Borzan has a real chance of becoming a party leader, some of the SDP members believe that this is her last opportunity to sorten out things that do not favor her.

Transcript

‒ Borzan intervened with the 'Tax Administration' as many as three times to try to get the tax debt of an Osijek tycoon written off - one SDP colleague told us. The source stresses that Borzan's testimony at the trail against Tax Authority chief Nada Čavlović Smiljanec, another SDP member, should not be forgotten.

The matter concerned the postponement of proprety repossession by the bank of the Osijek-based OLT metals foundry due to the tax debt. The foundry is owned by Željko Biloš, an entrepreneur connected to the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

At the time, Borzan received a call from Mate Radeljić, which is currently serving as an adviser to the President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Radeljić asked the president to check with the Tax Authority if OLT's debt could perhaps be rescheduled and if the repossession could be avoided.

- I stand by what I have been saying from day one - Borzan told us on Tuesday.

- I was considering whether there was a way to save 200 jobs at the foundry. Everything is clear from the transcript of my testimony - she added.

She confirmed that Radeljić had indeed contacted her to say that OLT was threatened with closure due to looming repossession over the tax debt. The debt would have been settled with a bank loan, which was about to be granted by a bank. Borzan claims she had just checked with Tax Chief Čavlović Smiljanec whether repossession could be postponed on the basis of a certificate about the imminent loan, issued by the bank.

Tax debt

‒ Radeljić assured me that the loan was in the process of being approved, but that it would take three weeks, which was too late for the repossession deadline ‒ said Borzan on Tuesday.

She cannot see why that should be considered problematic.

‒ I thought it was my duty as an MEP to see if there was a way to help a businesses and save jobs ‒ she explained, stressing that a Social Democrat should always be thinking of workers' welfare.

Borzan reiterated that her role was exactly as she had described it in the testimony of the trial. Čavlović Smiljanec received representatives of OLT in Zagreb. Afterwards, Radeljić called Borzan again and told her they had returned from Zagreb empty-handed. Thereupon she set up a meeting for them with the Head of the Tax Administration in Osijek.

Radeljić, who was the CEO of the Osijek Television at the time, called yet again and asked her to see whether the tax debt could somehow be settled using part of OLT's real estate.

‒ The Tax Administration told me it was not possible and suggested not to meddle anymore ‒ said Borzan. ‒ After that I gave up, and told Radeljić clearly there was nothing else for me to do in the case. Radeljić then turned to Ivan Vrdoljak the president of Croatian People's Party (HNS) president.

She was not able to do anything to help Biloš. In the end, the state did resort to seizing some real estate from OLT.

Borzan is to stay until the end of the term

Borzan is unhappy to see that her effort to find a legal solution to the crisis at OLT and preserve the jobs there is seen in parts of SDP as a favor to an HDZ-affiliated tycoon. She says she would like most of all to have recordings of her telephone conversations with Mate Radeljić, as they would make everything clear.

Borzan reiterates that she has not talked to Komadina about the possibility of becoming the new SDP president. It is just not on the agenda, she claims; she is devoted to do a quality job at the European Parliament until the end of her term.

Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version