BRUSSELS—The European Parliament ethics committee is set to censure a group of nine lawmakers who are suspected of accepting favors from Azerbaijan during an electoral observation mission there in October last year, the EurActive.com news portal reported Tuesday.
Kriistina Ojuland of Estonia, Jacek Włosowicz of Poland, Slavi Binev of Bulgaria, Jirí Maštálka of the Czech Republic, Ivo Vajgl of Slovenia, Alexandra Thein of Germany, Hannu Takkula of Finland, Oleg Valjalo of Croatia, and Nick Griffin of the UK all flew to Azerbaijan last October to monitor the elections.
However, they purportedly “forgot” to tell Parliament that they had been invited by the Azeri government and did not declare the trip on their website, as required by the Assembly’s new code of conduct.
The committee is also questioning whether the European Parliament members were rewarded for this task, on top of the paid trip.
After their mission, the group produced a report describing the elections as “free and fair.” Embarrassingly, their assessment was radically different from that of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which found “serious problems” related to freedom of expression and assembly.
In a report published in November, the European Stability Initiative, a think-tank, had already rung the alarm about the way the Azeri elections were being monitored more generally.
According to the European Parliament’s new code of conduct, adopted last July, any kind of present, invitation to a football game, show or trip must be mentioned on the lawmaker’s website if its price exceeds 150 euros.
“We are happy to see that the European Parliament actually is doing something about the caviar diplomacy snaked in Brussels,” said European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (ANCA Europe) Executive Director Bedo Demirdjian. “I hope they will open their eyes on falsifications of history and facts that are being committed by Azerbaijan.”