Deputy Environment Minister Jani Makraduli insists that his wife Maja Makraduli has the right to apply (and win) public procurement contracts even though he holds a high Government position and could use it to influence the outcome of the bids. After it was revealed that a software company co-owned by Maja Makraduli won contracts worth 90.000 EUR since her husband has been in office, he angrily responded to critics on his social media accounts and rejected that it is improper.

And yet, a similar example in Croatia in 2016 cost Tomislav Karamarko, then head of the largest HDZ party and Deputy Prime Minister, his role in the Government and the party. His wife Arna Sarik – Karamarko was revealed to have received 60.000 EUR from a lobbying company working with the Hungarian oil company MOL, which has interests in Croatia. The Croatian public responded strongly, accusing Karamarko of exposing himself to pressures from the Hungarian company in the future. He resigned in disgrace and has been unable to resume his political career ever since. Karamarko’s wife received 30.000 EUR less than Makraduli’s and yet his response is very different.

There is no conflict of interest here. I have not violated any law. Somebody is trying to smear me and is abusing honest people who have been working for 30 years, said Makraduli. He rejected public calls to have his wife’s company refrain from competing for public contract while he is in the Government.

The scandal comes shortly after it was revealed that Labour and Welfare Minister Mila Carovska did not report contracts with public institutions which her unwed husband received for his drone operating company.