the opening towards Qatar was the line

the opening towards Qatar was the line

Of Francesca Basso and Giuseppe Guastella

From the High Representative the "priorities" for the MEP who was later arrested: more collaboration with Doha

"Increase mutual understanding and exchanges" between the EU and Qatar through a "strengthened cooperation" in which "interpersonal contacts" must be the "priority": it is the political line that in October 2022 the EU High Representative (in practice the Foreign Minister) the socialist Joseph Borrell, he points out to Eva Kaili, then socialist vice president of the EU Parliament. Less than two weeks later, Kaili will be arrested in Qatargate, accused of having taken money to carry out the line in favor of Qatar, which was in fact the EU line. An investigation shrouded in more than one doubt.

We are in mid-2022, the war in Ukraine is underway and in November the World Cup will be held in Qatar. A decisive gas supplier to the EU in the midst of an energy crisis due to the conflict, criticized for the lack of respect for workers' rights, even those involved in the works of the World Cup, and for the LGBTQI+ world, but "promoted" byInternational Labor Organisation (ILO), the UN agency on which the assessments of the EU Commission are based, Qatar is asking its citizens to be able to enter Europe without a visa and for the controversy over the championship to subside.

On January 27, 2022, three days after the invasion of Ukraine and months before the Qatargate, President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: «Excellent phone call with His Highness the Emir Tamim Bin Hamad on the strengthening of the EU-Qatar partnership, also in energy matters. It is important to strengthen Europe's energy security with all reliable partners".

The Gulf Country is essential for the EU. Eva Kaili is expected on 31 October in Doha by the Emir of Qatar who had previously welcomed Borrell and the President of the European Council Charles Michel. Three days earlier she and 7 other people received a long note, which the Courier was able to consult, in which Borrell indicates the EU line by emphasizing that "EU-Qatar relations are going through an unprecedented positive moment". The hot topics on the carpet follow: trade, investment, Ukraine, Afghanistan. But the crux of the World Cup and of the workers for the construction of the stadiums, mostly exploited immigrants, remain.

The EU Commission is ready to negotiate visa abolition with Qatar as soon as Parliament and the Council give the green light to its proposal. "It will be a key to increasing mutual understanding and exchanges", writes Borrell, but Kaili must make the Qataris understand that the country must continue to deal "closely with the EU Parliament for this to happen". And then: "Energy is currently an absolute priority for the EU" and "we are immensely grateful to you for your readiness to help us accelerate our independence from Russian gas" because "a partnership" with the Gulf "is the first strategy ever" for Europe.

We arrive at the crucial point: "We applaud the reforms undertaken by Qatar, in particular on labor issues, and we encourage you to continue steadily on this promising path beyond the FIFA World Cup, which we are sure will be a success", adds the High Representative. Kaili will stick to that line also in the plenary debate of 21 November passed into the news as proof of his responsibility resulting from the bribes paid by the Qatari labor minister Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri to Antonio Panzeri and hypothetically received by her, such as the 250,000 euros mentioned by the repentant Panzeri for the 2019 elections of which, however, more than eight months after the scandal broke, there is no proof. There are, however, i 750 thousand euros in cash found in his house in the suitcase that he had had his father take to "return it to Panzeri". For this she ended up in prison for 4 months and another two under house arrest.

Asked for a comment on the document, Borrell's spokesman, Peter Stano, recalls that «in the EU there is a clear division of labor and responsibilities and the High Representative cannot and has not given any instructions or "orders" to the EU Parliament or its members". In the specific case "the High Representative's cabinet responded to a standard request from the cabinet of the president of the EU Parliament to provide input for the briefing on the visit of an MEP to Qatar" and "provided a factual summary of the EU's consolidated positions regarding relations and cooperation with Qatar and on the issues that could be raised during the visit. The final briefing for the travel of the MEPs is drawn up and completed by the EU Parliament and it is up to the latter to decide what part of our contribution is finally implemented».

"The accused intervened to defend the interests of Qatar, having met the Minister of Labor who appears to be the maneuver of Mr. Panzeri's activities", reads the mandate with which on December 9, Judge Michel Claise arrested Eva Kaili although, according to the Belgian Federal Police, there were no elements to say that it was part of the network woven by Panzeri. Kaili meets Al Marri on the eve of his hearing in the human rights commission on November 14th. «I received the mandate from the president (Roberta Metsola, ed) because the Commission insisted a lot on closing the dossier and voting in Parliament on the issue», she will declare in the minutes to Claise, while being expelled from her party because «her positions and values ​​are incompatible with Pasok». Neither Metsola, who hastened to "unload" the deputy immediately, nor Borrell are reported to have been called to testify, despite the lawyer Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, defender of the suspect, making specific reference to their directives after the arrest.

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July 20, 2023 (change July 20, 2023 | 08:00)

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