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Qatar furious over Belgian probe into possible external influence at EU

December 19, 2022 at 10:36 am

Vice-President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili speaks during a session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on December 07, 2022. [European Parliament / Pool/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Qatar has expressed its rejection of attempts to associate the Gulf State with misconduct, Al Jazeera has reported. The government in Doha is apparently furious at a Belgian investigation into an “alleged attempt to influence the European Parliament” which “relied on ‘inaccurate’ information.” Relations between the two countries could suffer “negatively” as a result.

“Qatar was not the only party named in the investigation, yet our country has been exclusively criticised and attacked,” said a diplomat at the Qatari mission to the EU. “We have observed this week’s selective condemnation of our country with great alarm.”

Al Jazeera pointed out that “Moroccan interests also face scrutiny” by investigators. According to the diplomat, the Belgian government “made no effort” to engage with Doha once the allegations were made known.

“Four people – including Eva Kaili, a Greek European Parliament vice president – have been charged in Belgium after investigators said a series of raids uncovered about 1.5 million euros ($1.59m),” said Al Jazeera. “Prosecutors said the money was part of an influence campaign by a Gulf state, which various media outlets later identified as Qatar, the country currently hosting the 2022 World Cup.”

Eva Kaili has served as a member of the European Parliament since 2014. The decision to remove her from her position in Brussels comes after Belgian authorities arrested her on Sunday.

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On Monday, the Belgian prosecutors’ office said that it has been working for more than four months on a probe looking at corruption, money laundering and criminal organisation. “Several hundred thousand euros were seized in three different places: €600,000 [$632 000] at the home of a suspect, several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a Brussels hotel room and about €150,000 [$158,000] in a flat belonging to a Member of the European Parliament.” the prosecutors said.

The Qatari diplomat insisted that: “The State of Qatar categorically rejects any attempts to associate it with accusations of misconduct. Any association of the Qatari government with the reported claims is baseless and gravely misinformed. The State of Qatar works through institution-to-institution engagement and operates in full compliance with international laws and regulations.”

He added that Qatar saw selective criticism and this worried the government. “We are worried that the people who leaked the details of the probe have ignored justice and commitment to the truth seeking to serve certain interests related to them.”

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