Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 33 n° 338

The strangest love affair – autocrats and parliamentarians, from Berlin to Strasbourg

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 4 aprile 2021

In recent weeks, the unbelievable story of corruption of parliaments across Europe by the Caspian autocracy of Azerbaijan has created big waves in Germany.Suddenly Azerbaijan’s rulers and their apologists’ strange love for the oil-rich country in the Caucasus were debated in the Bundestag. The issue made the headlines of papers and television news. It was discussed on popular talk shows before millions of viewers. It played a role in the resignation of MPs from the governing CDU. It triggered a long-overdue debate on how to protect parliamentarians from being manipulated by determined autocracies.ESI has written about this scandal for a decade. We published many reports and more than two dozen newsletters. For years these had no impact. Until April 2017 this caviar diplomacy, which had led to the capture of Europe’s leading human rights institution charged with defending the European Convention on Human Rights, was flourishing. It was simply too easy to bribe and seduce many of those parliamentarians Europeans had elected to represent them.Calling on the Council of Europe to act on the biggest scandal in its history: John Dalhuisen, Frank Schwabe, Gerald Knaus, Pieter Omtzigt (2017)Calling on the Council of Europe to act on the biggest scandal in its history: John Dalhuisen, Frank Schwabe, Gerald Knaus, Pieter Omtzigt (2017) In 2017 a bipartisan coalition of MPs from across Europe, led by Pieter Omtzigt from the Netherlands and Frank Schwabe from Germany, led the charge for an investigation of these serious allegations. It achieved the resignation of Pedro Agramunt, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). An official report in 2018 described the tip of the iceberg of this scandal, naming some of the members of PACE involved and calling on authorities across Europe to act.In January 2021 three former PACE members were sentenced by a court in Milan to four years in jail. In Germany parliamentary immunities were lifted and prosecutors started house searches. However, most of those involved in this policy since 2003 have walked away with impunity.For the Aliyev regime, almost two decades of efforts to aggressively undermine democratic institutions remained without consequences. It was never challenged on this policy in the Council of Europe by other members states.This week we discussed the lessons from this scandal in a long interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which is now also available in English.

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