Belgian politicians violated code of conduct when lobbying for Azerbaijan
Monday, 23 April 2018
MP Alain Destexhe (MR) and former MP Stef Goris (Open Vld and then LDD) breached several points of the code of conduct for members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. These are the conclusions drawn by an independent external commission examining allegations of corruption and whether some former parliamentarians allowed themselves to be influenced by Azerbaijan.
In September 2017, media disclosed that Destexhe and Goris had established a non-profit association in 2010, EAEO, whose task was to deliver positive information about elections in Azerbaijan against payment.
The two elected officials denied any wrong-doing, but the commission of inquiry nevertheless concluded that they have broken the code of conduct for parliamentarians. The report was published Sunday night on the Council of Europe’s website.
The commission of inquiry believes that Goris was “one of the most important figures in the lobbying machine that worked in favor of Azerbaijan”. He allegedly tried to formulate “instructions” to the authors of a Council of Europe report on the 2015 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.
According to information in the possession of the commission of inquiry, it appears that Goris “was lobbying for Azerbaijan” and therefore disrespected the code of conduct of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe. He was a member of assembly from 1999 to 2007.
Although Goris and Destexhe both deny it, they had close links with the non-profit association EAEO. The association has long been established at the address of the residence of Destexhe in Brussels. He also signed a financial statement on behalf of association. Destexhe was forced to resign from the parliamentary assembly last year.
While Destexhe was chairing the Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee in 2016, he failed to report a conflict of interest with EAEO.