Amid EU Parliament scandal, Qatar threatens gas cut-off
The European Parliament is being investigated by Belgium for a cash-for-influence scandal that ties Qatar to the bribery scandal, however, Qatar denies the charges and threatens to cut off gas.
In a dispute over a corruption scandal that has shaken the European Union, Qatar has threatened to shut off energy supplies to Belgium and Europe, a report by The Times has revealed.
Over a recent bribery scandal, the European Parliament has voted in favor of terminating Eva Kaili - the EU body's vice president - but she will continue to be a parliament member, according to December 13 vote results. The decision was made in a 625-1 vote, with 2 abstentions.
"In view of the ongoing investigations, @Europarl_EN has decided that Eva Kaili is no longer one of its Vice-Presidents. This decision is effective immediately. We will continue to fully cooperate with relevant national law enforcement and judicial authorities," said Roberta Metsola, the head of the parliament.
On her part, Kaili denies taking a bribe from Qatar, in addition to denying guilt of corruption. She dealt with charges brought by Belgian authorities, turning an accusation into a scandal. She also denied hoarding $158,000 in cash in a child's bed found in a search at her residence, according to Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, a lawyer speaking to Greece TV.
"Her position is that she is not guilty. She has nothing to do with financing from Qatar," Dimitrakopoulos said.
"I have no idea whether any money was found and how much was found. The only thing that I can tell you... is that there is no baby's bed where the hidden money was found. I deny it, saying this directly to you since her sister... told me that," the lawyer added.
According to investigators, the bribery network was established to assist Qatar in influencing a favorable conclusion on a forthcoming visa liberalization deal with the EU and a previously inked aviation agreement.
As vice president in charge of relations with the Middle East, Kaili has been accused of improperly influencing other MEPs in Qatar's favor. Kaili will appear in court in Brussels for an arraignment hearing, insisting that the EU's decision to strengthen ties with Qatar has nothing to do with the issue.
"The EU's determination to develop commercial relations with Qatar is undeniable," her lawyer added, emphasizing that energy supplies, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG), are critical to Europe.
“The EU wanted to secure energy resources to shield its citizens from freezing this winter. Eva Kaili held no executive authority or power. She did not act alone,” the lawyer added according to a report by The Times.
Qatar advises EU nations to remember it is supplying gas
Kaili will accuse fellow MEPs of planning to invite Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to address the assembly next month, but the parliament has denied the allegations. Kaili's lawyer has said that a detailed investigation into the matter could implicate the EU assembly in the scandal.
Qatar has advised European nations, particularly Belgium, which is probing the matter, to keep in mind that the emirate is an essential supplier of energy for Europe.
MEPs decided on Friday to stop legislative work on a visa liberalization deal with Qatar and to bar any Qatari officials and business representatives from the European Parliament.
“The decision to impose such a discriminatory restriction that limits dialogue and co-operation on Qatar before the legal process has ended will negatively affect regional and global security co-operation, as well as discussions around global energy,” according to the official statement of the Qatari mission to the EU, the report noted.
Qatari diplomats, as per the report, have dismissed any participation in the cash-for-influence controversy and have criticized the specific attention on Qatar despite Morocco's alleged involvement.
Additionally “Qatar was not the only party named in the investigation, yet our country has been exclusively criticized and attacked,” the statement said.
Significantly, Qatar warned Belgium and other European countries that the Qataris have become crucial LNG suppliers.
Read more: Vice president of EU parliament terminated over bribery scandal