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Former Latvian diplomat Mammadov involved in European Parliament corruption scandal


The program Nekā personīga (“Nothing personal”) on the Latvian television channel TV3 aired an extended story about the corruption scandal in the European Parliament. Political adviser Eldar Mammadov from Latvia was also involved in it. It also turned out that the MEP Andris Ameriks (ChSR), elected from the “Consent” list, visited Azerbaijan twice last year and visited the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh he had conquered.

The Belgian police, after conducting an investigation in the European Parliament, confiscated one and a half million euros in cash from MEPs. Evidence has been obtained that the government of Qatar and Morocco paid officials of the European Parliament to influence the adoption of decisions by parliamentary bodies that are beneficial to these states. The arrested leader of the group confessed to committing crimes and is ready to name all biased deputies and employees of the European Parliament.

Mamedov, a former Latvian diplomat, was also involved in the Brussels scandal. Now he has been suspended from duty, and while the investigation is ongoing, he does not comment on his involvement in the case. Earlier, the adviser called on the group of socialists / social democrats of the European Parliament to be more accommodating towards Qatar and Russia.

Last year there was a lot of criticism in connection with the World Cup in Qatar.

Video materials were publicized, from which it followed that the stadiums for the championship were built by guest workers who worked in almost slave conditions.

Due to inhuman conditions, many died right on the construction site. The image of Qatar needed to be urgently polished and the European Parliament set up favorably towards this state of the Persian Gulf. There were many important issues on the agenda of the European Parliament, including visa-free travel with Qatar.

Operation Mezzo, or the biggest scandal in the history of the European Parliament, began less than a year ago. Secret services found a suitcase with 400,000 euros under the bed in the house of former MEP Pierre Antonio Panzeri in Brussels. The same amount was stored in his home safe. Panzeri did not know about the secret visit, his subsequent meetings and negotiations were carefully tapped and recorded by Belgian special agents.

Materials obtained by the influential German publication Der Spiegel made it possible to reproduce several such meetings in the five-star Sofitel Place Jourdan hotel, where representatives of the Qatari authorities met with Panzeri, who in turn helped them write a speech at a meeting of the European Parliament subcommittee on human rights in November last year.

Francesco Giorgi, the spouse of Vice-President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili, an assistant to another MEP, also met with representatives of Qatar once. MPs needed to be convinced that Qatar had made significant reforms. Kaili has also publicly defended Qatar, criticizing colleagues for “hypocrisy”.

Regular and continuous bribery of MEPs was revealed at the end of December last year.

Having learned about the searches and the arrest of her husband and Pantseri, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Kaili, tried to hide the evidence. However, law enforcement officers found a suitcase full of cash in her child’s stroller.

MEPs have already voted to remove Kaili from office, as immunity does not protect an official if they were caught with evidence.

Besides Qatar, there was another state trying to buy influence in European institutions. This is Morocco. Two thirds of Morocco’s foreign trade is with the EU. The country also wanted to get political support in the conflict with Western Sahara, in turn, the EU relied on the Moroccan authorities, who should not have allowed African migrants to enter Europe.

Communication with the government of Morocco each time was conducted through different persons. They knew that their actions were illegal, so they used code words – if they were going for money, talking about a suit or tie. Later, in order to legalize bribes, Panzeri created a non-governmental organization called the Fight against Impunity.

During interrogations, the group members admitted that they also worked in the interests of Mauritania and Saudi Arabia.

The MEP from Latvia Roberts Zile commented on the situation: “Now, while the investigation is underway and it is not yet clear what we can do to improve “transparency”, in my opinion, one should refrain from visiting such countries.

Returning to the topic, it is certain that these countries were not the only ones [involved in the bribery]. Undoubtedly, we can talk about the states of Central Asia [Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan], Russia. Perhaps in such cooperation groups [outside the EU], there have been precedents like this before. I assess this as a very great damage caused not only to specific individuals, but also to the political group – the Social Democrats. Of course, to the entire Parliament.”

So far, all accusations of corruption have been directed against the Social Democratic Group in the European Parliament. Investigators believe that Panzeri collaborated with two other parliamentarians of this faction – Mark Tarabella and Andrea Kozolino – with whom he shared the money received in the form of bribes. At the request of the responsible services, the parliament will vote in mid-February to cancel the parliamentary immunity for these persons.

At the end of December, a group of Social Democrats removed their political adviser in connection with the scandal. This was done in connection with a possible violation committed in connection with the ongoing investigation, about which the Belgian police were immediately informed. The message does not mention the name of the suspended official,

however, Nekā personīga is known to be a Latvian citizen, Eldar Mammadov, who has worked in the European Parliament for more than ten years.

The Group of Social Democrats in the European Parliament has two deputies from Latvia – Nil Ushakov (“Consent”) and Andris Ameriks. Neither of them know about the circumstances of Mammadov’s dismissal.

Ushakov: “I still can’t say anything bad about Eldar Mammadov. I just don’t have that kind of information or information. At this stage in the European Parliament, we did not cooperate much, since he works in the field of foreign affairs, and I work with the budget, and our topics simply do not overlap.”

Ameriks: “I have nothing to do with Qatar. Mammadov worked in the relevant group for a very long time. I have no connection with him. We need to wait for the results of the investigation.”

Nekā personīga reminded Ameriks that Mammadov’s wife, Natalya Sysoeva, was his assistant. The program asked who advised America to hire her.

“She has been serving in parliament for several convocations, and it seemed to me that her experience suits me. It has nothing to do with her husband. I probably saw him [Mamedov] only once at a meeting of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats,” Ameriks said.

MEP Zile said of Mammadov: “I think his role [in the group of social democrats] is perhaps quite important. And the fact that the Spanish media write that one of his close friends in the group of social democrats is on the Committee for Civil Liberties, which is working on exactly the issues on which the scandal has risen. Its leader is Lopez Aguilar. This is a committee, the position of the head of which largely determines what kind of relations are maintained with representatives of third countries.”

The Spanish media, the program explains, indeed point to Mammadov’s close friendship with MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, head of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Many Spanish-language sources in parliament indicated that Eldar Mammadov most likely accepted the offer to spend his vacation in Qatar, watching the World Cup games.

Journalists asked Mammadov whether he bought tickets for the championship games himself. However, he replied that he did not give the media comments on the ongoing investigation. Nekā personīga received a similar response from a group of social democrats in the European Parliament.

Mammadov was a political adviser to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and was also one of those who called on the Social Democrat faction to take a compliant stance towards Qatar. He also objected to the official position of the faction to support the resolution, according to which Russia was recognized as a supporter of terrorism. Some deputies of the faction also pointed to his special position towards the Iranian regime.

Mamedov is a member of the once influential Mamedov family in Latvia. His father owned the Riga ambulance transport depot, and at one time the Road Administration. Both one and the other enterprises were associated with large and dubious state and municipal purchases.

A native of Riga, Eldar Mammadov began his career in the Latvian banking sector, heading the Parex branch in Azerbaijan. Then there was a rapid career leap in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For some time, Mammadov was an employee of the embassy in Spain, and then in Washington. According to unofficial information, he was recalled from the embassy in the United States due to close ties with Iranian representatives in America. Since 2000, Mammadov has been a frequent guest of the Baltic Forum events organized by the society of the leader of “Consent” Janis Urbanovich.

In 2014, Mammadov ran for Soglas in the elections to the European Parliament, but was not elected. Ushakov explained to Nekā personīga journalists: “Mamedov was not a member of Soglas, but we cooperated quite actively. Since in 2008 or 2009 he was hired by the European Parliament. He has an excellent CV (resume) for Latvian conditions: experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in embassies, then a job in the European Parliament, which he found himself. It was quite logical and natural that Eldar Mammadov participated [in the elections] from the list without being a party member.”

When asked if Mammadov’s candidacy was also discussed in the elections to the Seimas, Ushakov replied:

“Yes. If I am not mistaken, at that time we were working as a new team, and a person who had worked in the European Parliament for more than ten years in a fairly leading position could be a good choice. But that time he didn’t run.”

Due to the scandal, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, decided to take immediate steps to prevent or at least make it more difficult to commit similar actions in the future, in connection with which charges could be brought. Also, information about the gifts received by the deputies, as well as about their travels and meetings will be regularly published on the website of the Parliament.

Last week, the online publication EuObserver wrote that Andris Ameriks, as a member of the European Parliament, twice visited Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, where hostilities were taking place, twice last year without the consent of the Committee for Transport and Tourism. None of the experienced European deputies visited these directions, so as not to cause an opinion that Europe takes one of the sides in this Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. [Moreover, according to the publication, there Ameriks, referring to his position as deputy chairman of the commission, publicly offered to help in Azerbaijan’s relations with the EU – ed. ed.]

Source: Baltic News Network