European Parliament: returning to Coal and Steel Community
A tool in the hands of different political circles, Europe`s legislative body has become an instrument for exerting pressure on independent states
It has become traditional for Western circles to escalate their campaigns to weaken Azerbaijan on the eve of international events. One of the striking examples was one carried out ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest held in Baku in 2012. At that time a range of Western circles, Armenian lobby as well as "the fifth column" within Azerbaijan influenced by these forces, resorted to a variety of means to defame Azerbaijan. The same is happening on the eve of the First European Games that Baku will be hosting from June 12-28. The Western media, as well as its extensions linked to foreign organizations, transnational institutions, using democracy and human rights as a pretext, try to downplay the Games and bring Azerbaijan into disrepute. It is regrettable that sometimes a group of representatives of the European Parliament, one of the prestigious bodies of the European Union, are also involved in this process. So the European Parliament decided to hold discussions on the First European Games in Strasbourg on June 10. The website of the organization says that the hearings will focus on the role of high-profile international sports events in the protection of human rights and promotion of universal values. Yesterday chair of the EP's human rights subcommittee Elena Valenciano and chair of the Committee on Culture Silvia Costa held a joint press conference on the Strasbourg discussions. They will hold another press conference on June 11, the day after the discussions, to provide an insight in the hearings. The topic of the hearings shows that they are part of defamation campaign against Azerbaijan.
Coal and Steel Community that became a parliament
It should be noted that the organization, which was founded in 1952 as the European Coal and Steel Community and called itself the European Parliament after the Treaty of Rome of 1957, has not been recognized as a trustworthy organization by the Europeans. In 1970s, when hearing the name of the European Parliament they used to say "send your grandpa to sit at the Europarliament". Only in 1979, members of the European Parliament started to be elected by citizens and in the following years it received more authority as a result of reforms and became one of the leading bodies of the European Union. The European Parliament has played an important role in building and developing the united European family and modern European standards. But over the recent years the activity of the European Parliament has caused divergence among citizens and even parliamentarians.
A sponsored tool for pressure
The tenure of Martin Schulz saw the European Parliament turn from a supreme body that should express the will of European nations into an institution pursuing the interests of separate political circles and groups. Everybody knows that Schulz suffered from alcoholism and left his job in his youth. All this influenced the adventurer activities and statements of the President of the European Parliament as a politician. Schulz has been a member of the European Parliament since 1994 and its President since 2012. During this period he has caused a range of scandals. His statement about Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, his speech at the Israeli Knesset, his words about the role of the United Kingdom in EU and other incidents are known to everybody. In 2014, when Schulz was bidding for the position of the president of the European Parliament, Spanish MP, a candidate from the European United Left, Pablo Iglesias said that "it is separate clans rather than ordinary citizens that are represented in European organizations."
It is true that Schulz attempted to present himself as "a man who can do everything" and "irreplaceable" by fulfilling orders coming from European capitals, pretending not to hear small factions at the Parliament or limiting their maneuvering opportunities. That is why the European Parliament is now recognized as a tool in the hands of different political circles, an instrument for exerting pressure on independent states.
Abusing power, earning acclaim for hypocrisy
There is a plenty of evidence on Schulz`s abusing his power to pursue his interests. For example, in April, 2014 as European Parliament President Martin Schulz illegally removed a paragraph critical of his activity from a key committee report set for debate. Schulz converted his Twitter account, previously described as the official account with 60,000 followers of the European Parliament president, into a personal campaign vehicle. He is also accused of using daily allowances for the president of the parliamentary for his campaign. He is reported to embezzle nearly 110,000 euros to this end. He is also accused of political cronyism after handing out top administrative posts to 5 members of his personal staff and creating opportunity for them to make illegal profit from the parliament. Martin Schulz is known for abuse of power, being a tool in the hands of others, as well as for his hypocrisy. He cannot even follow sequence in relation to the specific issues.
Counting down the days ahead of the European Games to criticize Azerbaijan, Martin Schulz made quite positive remarks at the presentation of the European Games during the "European sports night" in Brussels. The President of the European Parliament said that the European Games demonstrated the supreme values as justice, tolerance and mutual understanding. Stressing that serious job had been done in terms of the organization of the Games, Schulz expressed his hope that the event will be a success. He underlined the importance of developing sports in terms of ensuring tolerance.
But the latest statements of the President of the European Parliament show that the concepts of justice, tolerance and mutual respect are nothing more than rhetoric for Schulz. We can confidently say that this position does not originate from Schulz`s positive attitude towards Azerbaijan.
Simply, being an official person, he insured himself from possible criticism by making groundless claims about an important event for Europe.
"Independent" and biased institution
It should be noted that the resolutions of the European Parliament related to different countries that have been adopted over the recent years has cast shadow on independence and objectiveness of the organization. As we know the total number of MEPs at the European Parliament was 736 until 2007 in accordance of the Treaty of Nice. The maximum number of MEPs was set at 751 by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007.
A surprising fact is that the discussion of and voting on the resolutions on the state of the human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan involved no more that 50 or 60 MEPs every time. For example, the discussion of and voting on the resolution adopted on May 12, 2011 involved by 54 MEPs. Another biased resolution was adopted with the participation of 56 MEPs on May 20, 2012 - on the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku. It is also planned to convene a meeting of the cooperation committee of the European Parliament and Azerbaijan`s Milli Majlis on June 20-21. On June 7, 2013, a couple of days prior to the European Parliament`s hosting discussions involving 50-60 MEPs, the 5th congress of the News Azerbaijan Party nominated the candidacy of Ilham Aliyev for the post of the President of Azerbaijan. The adoption of another resolution with the participation of few members on September 18, 2014, coincided with the anniversary of the "Contract of the Century" and the groundbreaking ceremony of the Southern Gas Corridor. Most of the MEPs attending the voting were the people who offered condolences to the Armenian leadership after the death of a member of an Armenian raiding party group who had been arrested in Azerbaijan. Moreover, this resolution features an article urging more radical steps and sanctions against Azerbaijan.
The facts show that all discussions and votings have been held in an urgent way with the participation of few MEPs and coincide with a significant event in Azerbaijan. It demonstrates that those documents have been sponsored and aimed at exerting pressure, and one can say with full confidence that they have been adopted through a group that abused their power on behalf of the European Parliament led by its President Martin Schulz.
In fact, Schulz has never missed a chance to criticize Azerbaijan. He even expressed his anxiety after the extradition of Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov from Hungary. On November 26, 2014, the President of the European Parliament made a speech at the ceremony of awarding Sakharov Prize in Strasbourg and accused Azerbaijan of violating human rights. Everybody knows that Schulz is doing his utmost to use all available tools to present Azerbaijan to the world in a negative way. It has recently appeared that there is an unofficial prohibition within the organization for MEPs to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan. One of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament who has visited Armenia three times in the last four months proposed visiting Azerbaijan to maintain a balanced approach within the framework of the EU's regional policy. But this proposal was resolutely rejected by Schulz. All this once again shows that pursuing different approaches towards Armenia and Azerbaijan, Schulz tries to create obstacles for the development of EU-Azerbaijan relations.
Another manifestation of "democracy"
While speaking about Schulz we should note that in 2014 as head of social-democrats he announced his candidacy for the post of the President of the European Commission and did his best not to lose this post with the salary of 27,000 euros. But in this struggle he was defeated by candidate of the European People`s Party Jean-Claude Juncker, and agreed to head the European Parliament for the second term. According to European media reports, it was heads of states who decided at the EU summit on June 26-27 - rather than MEPs as demanded by the Treaty of Lisbon - who of these two persons will be the head of the European Commission and who will head the European Parliament. MEPs just voted in accordance with the will of their leaders. Of course, if it`s about Europe, then this can be recognized as another manifestation of "democracy".
Monopoly of two factions
Another manifestation of the European democracy shows itself in the structure of the European Parliament and different opportunities enjoyed by factions. The organization has been controlled by two factions - Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the European People's Party (EPP) since its establishment through elections in 1979. In the last elections in 2014 the EPP won 221 seats (29.4 %) and S&D gained 191 seats (25.4 %). Together, these two factions with 412 mandates (53.8%) hold the majority at the parliament with a total of 751 seats. Communists and leftists, greens, regionals, liberals, conservatives, nationalists and Eurosceptics, rightists, as well as independent MEPs do not have power to seriously influence decision-making. A lot of experts and MEPs call this ratio the monopoly of two factions and recognize it as the violation of justice principle at the European Parliament. The current situation seems to have paved the way for some European countries to pursue their policies and maintain their grip on the opportunities to influence decision-making and promote their people to leading positions in the European Union.
In fact, the results of the Summit of the European Union held on June 26-27, 2014 demonstrate that the claims were not groundless.
The pot calling the kettle black
Interestingly, although there is abundance of evidence about restrictions on human rights and freedoms in most of the European countries, the European parliament has done nothing to raise this issue and take necessary measures. The cases of Islamophobia, growing anti-Semitist and discrimination tendencies, police violence, violation of labour relations and rights of migrants have never been investigated. What is also widespread is the breach of the freedom of speech and information, interference with the activity of NGOs, restrictions on the media and civil society institutions or their purchase through different grants or allowances. The European Parliament turns a blind eye to gross violation of human rights in Brussels, London, Berlin, Paris, Ferguson and other capitals and cities, but considers exaggerating a usual case in countries like Azerbaijan a principal point of its activity. It does not even think to launch investigations into astronomical amounts of money spent to build the European Central Bank in center of Europe in the city of Frankfurt, Germany, or build Brandenburg airport in Berlin. Suffice it to say that nearly 4.5 billion euros have already been invested in the still unfinished construction of Brandenburg airport, which cost nearly 2 billion euros. Spiegel Online writes that this sum has already reached 6.8 billion euros, which means that the spending has been exaggerated 2.5-fold. It is almost 3 times bigger than the budget of a country like Armenia. The European Parliament does not see a serious problem of corruption and embezzlement, while Schulz does not event intend to investigate this disgrace in his homeland. Instead, they raise unbelievable issues, hold discussions and adopt resolutions on Azerbaijan. Such double standards, discrimination certainly cast shadow on European values and reduced confidence in the European Union. By gathering only 40 or 50 people out of it 751 members to adopt a resolution against Azerbaijan, the European Parliament leaves itself open to mockery and ridicule. So losing its influence as an important body of the European Union, the European Parliament is moving towards the Coal and Steel Community that existed in 1957.
AV Research Center