The Gulf nation has denied all allegations concerning the EU scandal and expressed the need to respect the judicial procedures.
Doha is “100%” sure that allegations of paying off European officials are baseless, the Gulf state’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, calling on Europe to avoid dragging Qatar’s name into the ongoing corruption scandal.
The top official, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, told CNBC that the ongoing investigation must be respected before such claims are made.
“As a State of Qatar, we are 100% sure that this premise has no basis. We didn’t see anything. There’s an ongoing investigation. We have to see; we have to wait until the investigation is over,” the official told the news organisation during a sit-in interview.
Sheikh Mohammed highlighted that such Qatar-targeted allegations have only been from the media, and noted the country itself has not yet received any such complaints from Belgium authorities.
“What we are reading and what we are hearing is that there’s an ongoing investigation that everybody should respect and we should look at those outcomes of this investigation.
“This problem is a problem that is happening in Europe for a European institution. It is better for them to look at their own institution and do all the steps required for them and not to drag our country’s name in such a situation,” he stressed.
This was the first time the country’s FM commented on the matter directly. However, last month, the official stressed Doha’s “rejection” of misleading media leaks in a meeting with the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
The latest comments to CNBC come just days after two Belgian members of the European Parliament admitted they had failed to disclose paid trips to Qatar this week, though authorities in Doha said such visits are frequently organised and publicly announced.
“Like many governments, we frequently organise visits to Qatar for foreign officials and members of parliamentary groups,” a Qatari official said in a statement to Doha News.
“These trips are announced publicly and provide an opportunity for visitors to discuss important topics with government officials, academics, representatives from NGOs and international organisations such as the ILO, and members of the public, so that they can form their own opinions and develop a better-informed view of Qatar.”
“There is no expectation that their opinions will be positive – our aim is only to have a constructive dialogue and show them the reality on the ground,” the official told Doha News, adding that Qatar “categorically” rejects any attempt to associate the Gulf country with misconduct.
EU corruption scandal
Last month, member nations of the European Union expressed concern over claims that Qatar had ‘bought off’ some members of the European Parliament to influence their votes.
Belgian authorities charged four people, including Greek lawmaker Eva Kaili and Italian former parliament member Pier Antonio Panzeri, over the allegations and an investigation was launched.
The ongoing probe alleges that the officials took money, trips, and gifts, as part of efforts to lobby for Qatar at the European Parliament, alluding to Doha’s alleged role in influencing the parliament’s policy-making, France’s Le Monde reported.
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Aviation and its Trades [FNAM] this week issued a statement calling on European institutions to investigate the circumstances surrounding the signing of the 2021 EU-Qatar Open Skies Agreement, given recent reports of alleged corruption involving Qatar.
That came just weeks after members of the European Parliament voted to suspend Qatari representatives’ access to its premises.
In a statement at the time, Qatar’s foreign ministry underlined “the need to respect the judicial procedures and not to anticipate the results of the investigations.”