Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday evening refuted Croatian media speculations that Franjo Varga, the main suspect in a fake texts scandal, was involved in her 2014 presidential campaign.
The Croatian weekly Nacional said in its latest issue which hit the news-stands on Tuesday that Varga told investigators he had been hired by the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in 2014 to work on Grabar-Kitarovic's election campaign.
According to Nacional, which cited unnamed sources, Varga said he was contacted at the time by her present-day national security advisor, Vlado Galic.
Varga, a computer expert formerly employed by the Croatian police, was arrested in September on suspicion of producing forged text message correspondence for the convicted football mogul Zdravko Mamic and three of Mamic's co-defendants during their trial for syphoning 115.8 million kuna (€15.6 million) from the Dinamo Zagreb football club.
Currently in detention, Varga allegedly told investigators his clients included other prominent persons, including senior officials of HDZ, Milijan Brkic and Tomislav Karamarko, who ordered fake texts for internal party conflicts. Brkic is still the party's second highest ranking official, while Karamarko was party leader from 2012 to 2016, including the time he was Deputy Prime Minister in the first half of 2016.
On Tuesday, Grabar-Kitarovic was asked to comment about Galic and his alleged involvement in the fake text messages scandal.
Grabar-Kitarovic said Varga had not worked on her election campaign and that Galic told her he had been in contact with Varga twice during the campaign, "when various trolls and websites which promoted hate speech appeared."
"But Varga didn't work for the campaign. No services were asked of him nor did we create any trolls. Frankly, I was too busy with the election programme at the time to think about logistics. I only know that I told my associates at the start of the campaign that I wanted everything to be clean, no dirty deals. As you know, during the campaign I never condemned anyone but talked about work and performance, and I never let anyone be personally attacked," Grabar-Kitarovic said, adding that she would discuss this matter with Galic again.
Grabar-Kitarovic's comments came in Berlin, after she attended a dinner organised on the sidelines of a conference on economy organised by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, where she met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"We talked about the position of women in politics, as well as many other topics in international politics, including US President Donald Trump and his relationship with Europe," Grabar-Kitarovic told Croatian reporters after the event.
At the dinner, she also talked with Prime Ministers Katrin Jakobsdottir of Iceland and Ana Brnabic of Serbia.
Grabar-Kitarovic announced that in her speech on Wednesday, when the economic conference is scheduled to close, she would talk about the Three Seas Initiative - a platform which involves countries in eastern Europe working jointly to attract investments in large scale infrastructure projects.