PACE Bans 14 Members for Corrupt Exchanges with Azerbaijan

Chambers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Chambers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Chambers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

STRASBOURG—The Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) examined corruption reports during its summer session and determined that 14 assembly members had violated ethical standards by engaging in corrupt activities with Azerbaijan. Specifically, members had accepted gifts and other monetary bribes from the Azeri government to lobby on its behalf and present Azerbaijan in a positive light.

In a report published April 15, the Committee on Rules of Procedure stated that, “The allegations made and the facts supporting them are examined under four principal headings: (1) the various activities in  favour of Azerbaijan within PACE; (2) the exchange of gifts and different forms of benefits; (3) the influence of extra-institutional actors (lobbyists); and (4) money and other corruptive activities being used as a means of fostering Azerbaijan’s interests in PACE.”

Arpine Hovhannisyan, the deputy speaker of Armenian parliament and the head of the Armenian delegation to PACE, said the committee has sanctioned the parliamentarians who are mentioned in the reports — she explained that the group is comprised of both former and current PACE members. The sanctioned parliamentarians include Alain Destexhe, Luca Volontè, Agustín Conde, Karin Strenz, Elkhan Suleymanov, Göran Lindblad, Tadeusz Iwiński, among seven others.

“As I had explained earlier, the independent Investigative Body of PACE had presented its report on corruption processes in PACE at the spring sitting,” Hovhannisyan said. “The Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs Committee immediately touched upon the report. The committee continued working over the reports during the summer session.”

The committee ruled that the 14 PACE members who were found to have breached the organization’s Code of Conduct should be deprived of the right to access Council of Europe and Parliamentary Assembly premises for life.

This was the third Rules Committee hearing concerning the conduct of individual members and served as a follow-up to the Investigation Body’s report. Two previous hearings took place April 25 and May 15, and the committee will continue its hearings of current and former PACE members at its next meeting.

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