Exclusive: Are EU politicians opposed to Hungary and Poland being bribed? Polish MEP Dominik Tarczyński says Qatargate means ‘it is possible’

MEP Dominik Tarczyński. (Source: European Parliament)
By Olivier Bault
16 Min Read

In an exclusive interview with Remix News, Polish MEP Dominik Tarczyński notes that if you can buy positive opinions about Qatar or another country in the European Parliament, you can probably also buy negative opinions about Poland. For the Law and Justice (PiS) MEP, “this question has to be asked and the motivations of those who attack Poland in the European Parliament ought to be questioned.”

Were you surprised by this corruption scandal affecting the European Parliament? I’m asking because I was not. I remember watching a French documentary in the 1990s about the numerous financial cases of abuse in the European Parliament and how MEPs stubbornly refuse to put themselves under greater scrutiny…

I was surprised by the extent of the corruption. The amount of money involved, the circumstances, the number of people, and obviously the fact that it was a vice-president of the European Parliament: That is the real problem. I was shocked that corruption is present at such a high level in the European Parliament, and that’s number one.

Number two: I was shocked because the left has been attacking Poland for so many years about democracy, the rule of law, and transparency, and we’ve now found out that Eva Kaili, who was the Parliament’s vice-president from the Socialist group, is corrupt. This is a huge scandal, this is huge hypocrisy, and this shows that all those attacks on Poland were initiated by corrupt people. The whole world can see this huge scandal, and the European Parliament has to react.

You knew the Socialist vice-president of the European Parliament, Greece’s Eva Kaili. She sat with you on the commission investigating the use of Israel’s Pegasus software in some member states, including Poland. What was her attitude toward Poland? Did she support or maybe even initiate some of the EP’s numerous resolutions against Poland?

She was very active against Poland. She attacked us very often and not only so in the Pegasus committee but also in the parliament itself. She was very much in favor of launching the Article 7 procedure against Poland, and she started the work on resolutions against Poland, and her arguments were mainly about the “rule of law,” which is funny enough, and the lack of democracy and transparency. So my question is: If you can buy positive opinions about Qatar or another country, can you also buy negative opinions about Poland in the European Parliament? This question has to be asked and the motivations of those who attack Poland in the European Parliament ought to be questioned.

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The European Parliament must react to this situation, and by this I mean it should start an investigation. It is not only about those four people who were arrested. New names appeared in the media a couple of days ago, and I think this is the tip of the iceberg. There will be more.

When you say that the resolutions against Poland could also be paid for by a foreign state, are you thinking about Russia, for example?

Absolutely, I think Russia is very much involved. We’ve heard how many lobbyists they had in the European Parliament in the past, and we do not know how many they have at the moment, as they work undercover, but I’m 100 percent convinced that Russia uses its influence in the European Parliament to attack Poland. The only thing is you have to prove it, and now is the best moment for the European Parliament to show that they really care about the European Union, about every single EU member state, and that they are ready to fight against Russia. Everyone knows that Russia has its lobbyists, and this is not the first scandal in the European Parliament. So, if the European Parliament’s administration does not react, the EU will be destroyed by Russia.

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And what about Hungary? On Nov. 24, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission to freeze funds for Hungary because of breaches of the rule of law and corruption. In your opinion, is it possible that some MEPs could have been paid to lobby and vote against Hungary? Maybe even by some other member states?

Yes, it is possible. We learn from this scandal that even a vice-president of the European Parliament can be corrupt, probably, as the investigation is ongoing, and we still have to wait for confirmation. However, if they found 1.5 million euros in cash, no one will tell me that this is their savings. I am an MEP myself, and I know how much we make per month, and this does not enable you to save that kind of money in cash. We already know a few names from the media reports, and to me, it’s only a matter of time before more Socialists and probably also members of the European People’s Party, the EPP, will be arrested too. To me, it’s obvious that it is not only Eva Kaili but a much bigger group of MEPs and that time will bring us more shocking news.

Anyway, for the time being, all people who are being charged have links to the S&D Group. Naturally, this group voted in favor of that latest resolution against Hungary, and on the S&D’s website, there is a press release published shortly after the vote with the title “No EU money for Orbán’s government as long as it fails to respect the rule of law.” How would you comment on that?

I think it’s just laughable. You see, they are the ones who try to paint themselves as saints, with the parliament being their temple of democracy and transparency. However, this scandal shows that the real problem is not with Poland or Hungary but with the S&D, and it seems to me that this group will face huge consequences for their hypocrisy, for their attacks, for all those years when Hungary, Poland, and others were attacked based on accusations of a lack of democracy.

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We now see how much they are the ones who are corrupted, and I’m not sure whether this group can survive in its current form. Yes, it is very funny, but this is a very bitter joy, to be honest. I would rather not have those attacks against Poland and not have those corrupt people in the European Parliament. It is, nevertheless, our political reality, and we have to react. Obviously, we’re going to ask tough questions very soon, not only about the S&D but about the EPP as well. You have to remember that the EPP tried to block our resolution about the investigation of Qatar during the last session, but thank God they lost this vote.

What about the European Commission? We know Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, got into trouble when she was Germany’s defense minister because of the way her ministry organized calls for tenders. She was accused of cronyism and of awarding lucrative contracts to outside consultants through a network of personal connections. Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, was Luxembourg’s prime minister when the fiscal scandal later revealed by the so-called LuxLeaks happened, so we know that under his tenure secret agreements allowed 340 international corporations to evade tax in the Great Duchy of Luxembourg. Before Juncker, there was Portugal’s former prime minister, José Manuel Barroso, heading the European Commission. In 2005, Die Welt reported that Barroso had spent a week on the yacht of the Greek shipping billionaire Spiro Latsis, a month before the Commission approved 10 million euros of Greek state aid for Latsis’s shipping company. Then in 2016, Barroso raised huge controversy when he became the non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs international. That was less than two years after the end of his second term as head of the European Commission. It really looks like the European Commission, which has been relentlessly attacking Poland and Hungary on rule of law issues, is headed by people who are not crystal-clear themselves, don’t you think so? Isn’t it more of an issue with EU institutions in general, and not just the European Parliament?

The problem is actually larger than what you’ve just described. Let’s remember the stories of commissioners Jourova and Reynders, who had problems with the law in the past as well. This is a huge crisis, but what’s important, we never ever had any member of our European Conservatives and Reformists group, the ECR, who have been arrested, and that’s the difference between us. They have been pointing at us with their fingers, lecturing us about the rule of law we have to respect, but none of us has ever been arrested like this which has happened among the Left. This shows all their hypocrisy when they use the rule of law and democracy as a weapon against us, and this hypocrisy must end.

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The responsibility in the present case is not only of Eva Kaili, but also of those who appointed her, accepted her, and tolerated her for so long, and they must be brought to account and face the consequences. And what about the (security) services that function within the European Parliament? Why did no one ever react? It is not the parliament’s services but the Belgian police who eventually acted on Kaili’s case.  

In this context, how would you comment on the fact that the European Commission keeps blackmailing Poland by withholding the so-called recovery funds from the NextGenerationEU plan, which are now almost 1.5 years late, at a time when Poland has been giving shelter to many millions of Ukrainian women and children fleeing Russia’s war and has been at the forefront of the support, including with weapons, given to Ukraine?

This blackmail is just a political tool. They try to support Donald Tusk and the Civic Platform, the PO, in Poland. This is obvious, and Ursula von der Leyen herself was very open about it when she said: “My dear Donald, remember, when we see each other again, we’ll see you, as you said, as a prime minister.” But the truth is that they will not withhold this money indefinitely because of the German economy, which will be worse off if the Polish economy is weakened. You have to remember that the support for the Polish economy is also partly support for the German economy. And as you know, we survived communism, we survived the Second World War, we survived partitions, so we will survive without having this money for some time, don’t worry about us.

For sure, but when Poland is boosting its military expenditures, with defense at 3 percent of GDP in next year’s budget, to deter Russia from attacking not only Poland but also the Baltic states and the rest of NATO, aren’t the European Commission and European Parliament weakening NATO’s eastern flank with this financial blackmail against Central Europe’s biggest political, economic, and military power?

Of course, they are. And in the meantime, Germany is far from spending even the required 2 percent of its GDP on defense, as Donald Trump stressed several times when he was president of the United States. Why should the U.S. Army defend Europe and maintain military bases in Germany when Germany does not even spend that 2 percent on defense?

In case of a Russian attack, it is Poland that will have the capacity to repel it while Germany will not. So yes, this financial blackmail is weakening NATO’s eastern flank, but what can you do about it? Their way of doing politics is devastating, and we cannot agree with it. This is why we try to fight this kind of hypocrisy and stupidity. 

So maybe just like Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel did, Mrs. Von der Leyen is putting the German-Russian relationship and German national interests before the interest of the West and also before so-called “European values?”

When we comment on the European Commission’s behavior, we have to remember about this. It is very clear that Schröder is working for Putin, and many others across Europe have been working for Putin, and we can now see the consequences of those deals in Ukraine. I’ve been to Ukraine, and I’ve seen mass graves, and I can tell you that such deals will always bring death, not euros.

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