Monday

21st May 2018

'Strong suspicion' of corruption in Council of Europe assembly

  • The report said that there was 'strong suspicion' that the assembly's former president, Pedro Agramunt, was 'party to activity of a corruptive nature'. (Photo: Estonian Foreign Ministry)

An independent body investigating the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has concluded there was "strong suspicion" that some former and current members were engaged "in activity of a corruptive nature", related to Azerbaijan.

The damning report comes after ten months of research looking into the conduct of members of the assembly, which consist of MPs from 47 European and Central Asian countries who are all members of the Council of Europe – an international organisation which pre-dates the EU and deals mostly with human rights, democracy and rule of law.

  • The report said there were 'suspicions that corrupt activities supported by Azerbaijan had played a role' in the appointment of Agramunt as president of the assembly (Photo: Sonke Henning)

The investigation concluded that there was a lack of transparency in the assembly, and that there were conflicts of interests of some members and former members of PACE who dealt with Azerbaijan.

The report, published on Sunday evening (22 April), said that there was "strong suspicion" that the assembly's former president, Pedro Agramunt, was "party to activity of a corruptive nature".

Agramunt already had to leave his post last year, after a vote of no-confidence following a scandal involving his meeting of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The report said that Agrumunt's appointments to the position of president of the European People's Party and then the position of assembly president "were marked with controversy and with suspicions that corrupt activities supported by Azerbaijan had played a role in the appointments".

Other members and former members also acted against the ethical standards of the assembly and broke the relevant code of conduct, the report said.

Among them is Spanish politician Agustin Conde, current state secretary of defence in Spain.

The report focused mainly on corruption and lobbying activities related to Azerbaijan, which had been a member of the Council of Europe since 2001.

But it hinted that much more could be wrong in the assembly.

The report listed allegations that surfaced during the investigation, involving Armenia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

The authors of the report suggested that others investigate those allegations.

"Due to the organisational, temporal and operational limitations of the investigation body's mandate, the investigation body has been unable to conduct a thorough investigation into all those allegations," they wrote.

While the Council of Europe's assembly is not as important as EU institutions, the authors noted that its activities have high symbolic value.

"It would be wrong to assume that, since PACE activities might not have direct financial consequences within the member states, this risk is less real," it said.

"Indeed, membership of PACE, and of the COE in general, is important for the image that the authorities of a particular state wish to project in the international community."

Opinion

EU red carpet for Azerbaijan sends wrong message

Deepening engagement with Aliyev’s government, without first securing concrete human rights improvements, tells the world the EU does not care about its own values.

Poland, Hungary push back at EU budget 'conditionality'

EU affairs ministers held their first discussion on the Commission's long-term post-Brexit budget plans - with cohesion and agriculture cuts, phasing put rebates, and the overall size emerging as major divisions.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

Opinion

Europe's budget stasis

The EU's budgetary muddling through might not be enough when the next crisis hits.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures