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When corruption penetrates the very marrow of European institutions

Caricature: Bado for Le Droit
Article by: Raphaël Glucksmann
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Let’s start with the bad news that has completely fallen off our radar, another example of this slow poisonous corruption that undermines our institutions and doesn’t necessarily refer to bags of criminal money exchanged in dark strip clubs or in obscure train stations filmed in low-angle shots with eerie background music.

Today, everything’s happening in broad daylight… but, it’s still a story of gross corruption. Indeed, a more dangerous form of corruption. Corruption as an integral part of our institutions.

In 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe suspended Russia after the occupation and annexation of Crimea and the invasion of eastern Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine is still occupied and Crimea still annexed, yet Russia has just been reinstated in PACE. Unconditionally, with no questions asked! And, at the request of the French Presidency. Our Secretary of State for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin even had the gall to address the opening session of the Assembly with the following words:

“Here, we do not deal with geopolitics; here, we defend such fundamental values as human rights.”

Really? Have we missed something somewhere, namely Vladimir Putin’s great advancements in human rights that justify such sudden indulgence on the part of the French government? Moreover, the Crimean Tatars will be delighted to learn that their right to live in their country and not in an empire that has constantly persecuted them is referred to as a “geopolitical” situation and not a “human rights” affair.

Why am I talking about corruption in this case and not just about simple hypocrisy or double talk? Because the real reason for Russia’s return to PACE is quite simple, and everyone in Strasbourg and Brussels knows it. The Council of Europe needs Russia’s contributions to fill its budget. In fact, a CoE official recently confided to me:

“It’s a real shame, but without Russian money, it’s certain death, so better to live with shame than die; that’s the current logic.”

Yes, the institution that is supposed to embody, monitor and evaluate respect for specific European “values” has thrown in the towel and lost its credibility… for a huge bag of rubles.

We create institutions whose only mission is to uphold our principles and then, we force them to sell us out to the highest bidder. That’s the kind of respect we have for our ideals… and for ourselves.

And, here’s the icing on the cake: the head of the Russian delegation immediately announced that the Russian delegation to PACE would include – it would be perfectly normal, right!? – individuals targeted by European sanctions and “elected officials” from occupied Crimea.

The spirit of compromise has rendered our political architecture meaningless. If we give up and no longer fight against moral and political corruption, we’ll never be able to wage an effective war against Putin, Salvini, Le Pen and others, who want to kill our democracies… We will simply not be credible… or audible. They’ll call us clowns. And they’ll be absolutely right.

Insincerity – that’s the disease that will kill us all.

Raphaël Glucksmann is a French journalist, film director, and political personality. In May 2019, he was elected member of the European Parliament as part of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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