Dark sides of corrupt operation in European Parliament

Trend news agency has published an article entitled “Dark sides of corrupt operation in European Parliament”.

News.Az republishes the article by Yegana Hajiyeva and Mushfig Alaskarli.

Vice President of the European Parliament Eva Kylie was detained on charges of involvement in corrupt deals for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2022/12/belgium-makes-eu-parliament- arrests-in-qatar-corruption-probe/).

This is not the first case of bribery and corruption scandal involving Eva Kylie. Kylie, elected to the European Parliament from Greece, has also worked closely with Armenian lobbying groups active in Europe. Her corrupt dealings with these groups were high on the media agenda. Trend also touched upon this topic in an article published in 2021 titled "How does the Armenian network manage European institutions?", where the details of Kylie's collaboration with the Armenian network were revealed.

The article emphasized that although the statement against Azerbaijan was made public on behalf of the European Parliament on November 19, 2021, it was signed by only 33 members of the European Parliament. They are members of the "Group of Friendship with Armenia" represented in the European Parliament. Along with Lukas Furlas, Lefteris Christopher, Lars Patrick Berg, the Greek MP Eva Kylie was especially active in preparing and adopting the statement. The statement contained so-called accusations, such as a "threat to the territorial integrity of Armenia" by the armed forces of Azerbaijan. These 33 deputies also called on the European Union to use all levers "to prevent encroachment on the territorial integrity of Armenia."

Referring to articles written by the Armenian media, we say that this statement prepared by the deputies of the European Parliament ("Group of Friendship with Armenia") was the result of cooperation with the European Armenian National Committee and the "Pan-European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy" (https://armenpress .am/arm/news/1068692.html?fbclid=IwAR3nwDuAbOzPrQ7sM_jVggk9rlkI3FnXNU6CsUQw1v6ek-NBpVky3LBYLCk).

How does "dirty money" get into the European Parliament?

We see that the European Parliament sometimes behaves inconsistently on issues important to the EU. Sometimes the statements adopted by the European Parliament contradict the interests of the EU as a whole. This also includes behavior towards Azerbaijan. The European Parliament is one of the 5 institutions of the EU. That is, it is part of it.

Actually, this is where the root of the problems in the activities of the European Parliament is. Studies show that one of the reasons for this "decentralization" is illegal funds that enter the European Parliament under the guise of "lobbying". Rebecca Harms, head of the Green faction from Germany, said in an interview that the European Parliament is paying more attention to issues that are not directly related to Europe.

"The agenda of the European Parliament is formed by lobbying groups. Everyone is trying to satisfy their own interest," Harms said. Rebecca Harms expressed concern that the European Parliament has become a platform for lobbying groups.

The problem is that the funds sent to the European Parliament for "lobbying activities" in most cases are "dirty money" and are used for "dirty purposes". For example, as we mentioned above, the "Group of Friendship with Armenia" represented in the European Parliament cooperates with the "All-European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy" (AAFJD) (https://eafjd.be/33-meps-call-on-the-eu -to-urge-azerbaijan-to-withdraw-forces-from-the-republic-of-armenia/ ). The President of the AAFJD is Kaspar Karampetyan. He is known as a billionaire, oligarch and mafia founder. He is one of the founders of the "mafia-lobby" mechanism, which is considered one of the most influential movements in the world. Its finances are formed by illegal smuggling of diamonds. Studies show that the friendship of 33 representatives of the European Parliament with the "grandfather of the mafia" is based on real cooperation. They often meet and coordinate their activities. This is how Karampetyan's "dirty money" gets into the European Parliament.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Eva Kylie received a bribe for hosting the World Cup in Qatar. The European Parliament has a long tradition of taking bribes and engaging in corrupt activities under the guise of lobbying.

Why did the Brussels police act now?

According to the Belgian RTV channel, citing the federal prosecutor's office, Eva Kylie is not the only one detained on charges of corruption. The police raided 16 locations in Brussels and interrogated 4 people.

Belgian prosecutors said some 600,000 euros ($633,500) in cash, IT equipment and mobile phones were confiscated during the raids. The prosecutor's office did not disclose the names of those four, but it is known that one of them is a former member of the EU Parliament.

The raids concern deputies, as well as assistants to EU legislators. Each of the 705 elected members of the EU Assembly from 27 countries has assistants. Kylie's assistant, who she refers to as "FG", is also among those detained. Previously, he worked for the Italian MP Pier Antonio Panzeri.

One of the other two arrested is Luca Visentini. Last month he was elected general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITC). The organization unites more than 200 million members worldwide.

The information from the prosecutor's office also notes that the detainees are suspected of assisting "attempts by one of the states of the Persian Gulf (the name was not disclosed) to influence the economic and political decisions of the European Parliament". For this mediation, large sums of money and gifts were offered to those holding important political and strategic positions in the European Parliament. The press service of the European Parliament declined to comment on the raids. It was emphasized that the Assembly is cooperating with the Belgian police.

The problem is that corrupt groups have been able to gain power to oppose decisions made in the interests of European structures. They turned into a large network in Europe that poses danger. For example, the theme of the "lobbying scandal against Qatar", connected with the European Parliament, appeared in a different form in the Council of Europe. During the discussion of where the championship will be held, an initiative was put forward in the Council of Europe to "hold hearings on human rights in Qatar". However, the "left group" in the Council of Europe blocked the initiative. The majority voted against putting the issue to a plenary vote. (https://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Police-move-on-suspected-influence-peddling-at-EU-17642405.php).

Analysts note that this is a coordinated activity. Those who rule the "lobbying group" in the European Parliament are also "influential" in the Council of Europe. It follows that the problem of "corrupt lobby groups" is not unique to the European Parliament. A large network has been formed. Branches of this network covered all European structures.

The "operation against corruption machinations" directed against the strategic goals of the West does not apply only to Europe. In parallel, the process is carried out in the US. US federal prosecutors are investigating the corrupt activities of New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez under the guise of lobbying. He faced similar charges in 2015 (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/26/nyregion/bob-menendez-federal-investigation.html). The senator is now under a federal corruption investigation. "Senator Menendez is aware of the investigation," said Michael Soliman, a political consultant who ran Menendez's two Senate campaigns. However, he did not talk about the scope of the investigation. When asked, who else would be investigated, he did not answer (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/nyregion/senator-robert-menendez-corporation.html).

Thus, the operation launched by the Belgian police was caused not only by the fact that Eva Kylie was engaged in corrupt activities connected to the World Cup in Qatar. The fact that a similar process is taking place in the US shows that the purpose of the initiated operations is not only "corruption machinations." There are different nuances. Why did the two centers of power in the world suddenly decide to start a large-scale process at the same time?

"Left trace" in the operation has began

European media sources note that "a group of Bulgarian socialist deputies" voted against discussions held in the European Parliament on calling "Russia a country that supports terrorism". Petar Vitanov, leader of the "Group of Bulgarian Socialists" in the European Parliament, carried out special propaganda for this among other groups. The resolution was the result of discussions about Russia's deliberate attacks on civilians during the war in Ukraine. The destruction of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians and other events in Ukraine have been called "terrorist acts." With this in mind, they recognized Russia as a sponsor of terrorism and a country "using the means of terrorism". The resolution was adopted by 494 votes against 58 with 44 abstentions.

Most of the opponents of the resolution and the abstentions were "leftists" and in this sense drew attention to themselves.

The active participation of "left groups" in dubious "lobbying" processes both in the European Parliament and in the Council of Europe is also noteworthy. Their protest against the topic of "discussion of human rights in the host country of the World Cup" brought the "left" into the spotlight (https://euobserver.com/world/156450). Eva Kylie is also a spokesperson for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement.

Another nuance is the compatibility of the interests of the "leftists" with the Armenian and Greek lobby groups. When the European Council wanted to discuss the issue of Eva Kylie, the Armenian-Greek group voted against the proposal.

The German media are publishing serious investigations that "leftist groups" in Europe are being instructed by the Kremlin. The article "International politics is not democracy or human rights: these are the interests of states" is devoted to this topic (https://www.dw.com/en/germanys-ruling-spd-faces-the-ruins-of-its-russia- policy/a-6120633 2).

The process of "fighting corrupt lobbying groups" that has begun in Europe and the US also includes the adoption of restrictive measures against Moscow. This is one of the reasons why the process was launched in parallel in Europe and the US. It is aimed at limiting the activities of lobbying groups under the influence of the Kremlin. MEPs want to reduce diplomatic relations with Russia, minimize EU contacts with Russian officials and close institutions associated with the Russia in the EU.

In conclusion, we note that the orientation in this process towards the "Greek-Armenian" cooperation works to the detriment of the Azerbaijani-Turkish union, regardless of the intention with which it was started. The "Greek-Armenian" union, acting in a coordinated form with the "left groups" in Europe, without exception, worked against both Azerbaijan and Türkiye. Eva Kylie is one of those who obstructed negotiations between the EU and Türkiye (https://www.evakaili.gr/en/three-leading-human-rights-advocates-jailed-in-turkey/). She has sent a written request to the Commission of the EU with a request to apply visa restrictions for persons holding Azerbaijani citizenship in connection with the former Karabakh conflict. Kylie, a member of the European Parliament, communicated her request through a tweet. She called for the cancellation of the visa facilitation agreement signed between Azerbaijan and the EU (https://twitter.com/EvaKaili/status/1310331147520479233). She said that she wrote this appeal in protest against "gross violations of the rights of Karabakh Armenians by Azerbaijan and Türkiye".

Another nuance worth paying attention to is "friendly" relationship between Eva Kylie, who was questioned by the Brussels prosecutor's office on charges of "corruption lobbying activities", and Senator Robert Menendez, who was questioned by US federal prosecutors. They are "friends" on social networks. They retweet each other (Robert Menendez tweet: https://greekreporter.com/2022/10/13/menendez-i-will-not-approve-sale-f-16s-turkey/
Eva Kelly tweet: https://greekreporter.com/2022/10/13/menendez-i-will-not-approve-sale-f-16s-turkey/). Their retweets have intensified, especially towards Azerbaijan and Türkiye. One shares anti-Azerbaijani or anti-Turkish statuses, and the other immediately retweets. Is it a coincidence that "groups" under various names, constantly trying to aggravate relations between the EU, the US, Azerbaijan and Türkiye, are unexpectedly involved in the investigation? This will be discussed in our next article.


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