UEL Chair: the moment to clean this House of democracy

In the Urgent debate: follow-up to the report of the Independent Investigation Body on the allegations of corruption within the Parliamentary Assembly chairman of the UEL Group delivered the following speech:

It is sad to recognize that this esteemed Assembly got itself hijacked by some cynical members and former members, in close cooperation with at least one government of a member state, but may be more, with the sinister goal to unduly influence debates and decision making in this hemicycle.

It is an utter disgrace to realize that a former president of the Assembly and a former president of one of our political groups, used, instead of good arguments, foul money, received from a member state, to reach top positions, then used to manipulate and falsify decision making. It is a bitter shame that some former members of this Assembly used their status to distribute dirty money-envelopes to other members to buy their voices, their votes – their souls. Shame on these members of parliament who betrayed their voters and their hard working colleagues here and discredited our unique pan-European organisation.

Most of us fortunately were not involved – but too many were. And too many casted a blind eye to what was happening here. Even when it became evident there was something really rotten in the state of our Strasbourg institutions, too many chose the side of those who wanted to block an independent external investigation.

And even after the scandal was disclosed, some here in the House thought they could use this horrendous scandal for their own narrow minded, small interests. With disgust I saw some colleagues act here, or misuse their national media to take political advantage out of this tragedy, and thereby drawing away the essence of the investigation report. I do not have to mention names – if those involved look into the mirror, they will surely recognize themselves.

But: never spoil a good crisis, it is said. This crisis, in which this Assembly put itself in, could and should be used for some kind of catharsis. This is the moment to clean ourselves, clean this House of democracy, and create a new atmosphere in which again a decent political culture can develop itself. I sincerely hope so.

My UEL Group wholeheartedly supports the resolution and recommendation of the Rules Committee and will support any other serious proposal to improve our structures – but let us be aware that only a fundamental change in our political culture can take care for a sustainable protection of this precious organisation. Therefore: take care, be aware, be vigilant and let us show zero tolerance from now on in order to avoid such a scandal to happen ever again.

May I thank the rapporteur as well as the staff for the preparation of this report in so short time. Especially on such a sad day we should cherish our hardworking and most professional staff to support us.


coe – 20180426/1 (EN)

Council of Europe / Conseil de l’Europe