Minister says no scandal about archaeological research

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Culture Minister Bozo Biskupic on Wednesday dismissed media allegations that the state-owned company Croatian Motorways (HAC) should have paid some HRK 500 million for archaeological research on motorway routes over the past seven years, saying there was no scandal.

Biskupic told the press this was only about abiding by legal regulations on which all research work was based, work aimed at preserving the heritage devastated by war and centuries of neglect.

Since 2004, the Culture Ministry has signed contracts with HAC worth HRK 401.2 million, of which HRK 294.3 million has been realised, said the minister.

Biskupic said he was not afraid of an investigation and that Transport Minister Bozidar Kalmeta did the right thing by asking HAC to submit a report on the archaeological work. Every tender was published and nothing was done that would harm anyone, he added.

Biskupic went on to say that former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader's wife Mirjana had not managed any research, only working as part of a team at a site in Dalmatia. He denied that the Culture Ministry had paid HRK 600,000 for the translation of her books.

Biskupic said that a decision on any archaeological research, including that at Gardun near Trilj, to which the media linked Mirjana Sanader, was made by the Cultural Heritage Council and that the project was financed via tender.

The minister explained that archaeological research costs had gone up to a great extent because roads were being built in locations where there were many such sites, adding that research was imperative.