European Parliament debates tighter controls on MEPs' foreign visits

Toom meeting Assad in Syria.
Toom meeting Assad in Syria. Source: (SANA)

The European Parliament is discussing tighter controls on individual trips of its members. What were essentially private visits could be passed off as official ones, and MEPs’ private opinion as the official position of the European Parliament.

The debate was prompted by multiple trips to Syria, Crimea, and Azerbaijan where the MEPs' opinion may have been passed off as the official stance of the European Parliament, Latvian state broadcaster LSM’s English service reported on Tuesday.

David McAllister, a member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs has sent a letter asking the European Parliament to tighten controls over the European lawmakers' foreign visits.

In his letter McAllister suggested that those not representing the parliament’s stance on a particular issue should be called to order by means of sanctions against them.

Estonian MEP and Center Party leadership member wasn’t impressed. ”If they want to make the requirements more strict, let them. But they can't keep us from going anywhere," Toom said.

Toom along with Latvian MEP Andrejs Mamikins visited Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his Russia-backed regime in 2016 alongside Russian officials. Much like Toom, Mamikins belongs to a party that has much of the Russian vote in its area and is said to have ties to Russia, among others by the Latvian Security Police.

"Our employer is not Antonio Tajani or any other honored colleague, but rather our voter. And they're the ones we have to answer to," said Toom.

Toom thinks it obvious that what she says should be her own opinion. ”I always say that it's my personal opinion. I represent neither the parliament, nor the Liberal Democrats group or the Center Party for that matter. I am here on my own and represent my voters. Likely not all of them, for that matter," said Toom.

Mamikins said he was “proud” to have visited Assad. “It was worth going there as it's always useful to talk. It's better to communicate and to talk, not just condemn and talk with resolutions sitting in cozy offices here at the European Parliament,” said Mamikins.

Tatjana Ždanoka, another Latvian MEP, said that it could also happen that the receiving country wanted to pass off the view of the visitors as the European Parliament’s official position. Most people didn’t realize where the limit was, Ždanoka said.

Mamikins’ visits have been condemned by Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: LSM

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