Armenian lobby diverts attention from Eva Kaili
A transnational scheme of cooperation between lobbying and non-governmental organizations is used in Brussels in the interests of the 27 member states of the European Union. In the operations of this sceme, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office has found traces of corruption.
As reported, after discovering corruption machinations in the European Parliament, the Belgian investigating authorities issued a warrant to the Brussels police for the arrest and interrogation of the Vice President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili and another four individuals. At the same time, the Euronews TV channel reports that the investigation may lead to the arrest of at least fifteen more MEPs actively involved in the illegal lobbying of certain vested interests.
The lobbying groups operating in the European Parliament, concerned about the European media’s focus on exposing corruption scandals, are seeking to change the information agenda by suggesting that other controversial topics be discussed in the European Parliament in order to divert the attention of the European political establishment from the Brussels corruption scandal.
In this regard, noteworthy is the activity of Armenian lobbying groups. In particular, Frenchwoman Nathalie Loiseau, head of the Subcommittee on Defense and Security of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, collected signatures of about 30 MEPs—members of the Armenia Friendship Group in the European Parliament—calling for discussions of “the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh”. That is, the very group of which Eva Kaili, arrested by the police, was the deputy chair. For the same purpose, appeals were sent to Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Josep Borrell, head of the EU diplomatic office.
We have already written that the Armenia Friendship Group in the European Parliament is regularly “fed” by several billionaires of Armenian descent, who use the influence of “their people” in the highest legislative body of the European Union to carry out corruption schemes and launder dirty money. Brussels even set up a special mechanism to “support Armenian friends of the European Parliament”, including Vartan Sirmakes, a Swiss citizen of Armenian origin, who plundered gold mines in Karabakh.
Vartan Sirmakes: Swiss roots of Armenian separatism
As we know, official Baku has requested Interpol to detain Vartan Sirmakes, the CEO of the Swiss watch company Franck Muller Group. This man is also the principal shareholder of Armswissbank and Artsakhbank. The very names of these financial institutions suggest not only Sirmakes’ ties with Armenia, but also his active support to the separatist regime in Khankendi. It is thanks to Sirmakes’s connections in Switzerland and the European Parliament, “Artsakhbank”, in which he owns a total of 66.3 percent of shares, has been a member of SWIFT International since 2003, and a branch of the Europay/Mastercard international payment system since 2005.
It is striking that the vast majority of MEPs, who are so fond of talking about the inviolability of democratic rights and freedoms in the modern world, were absolutely unconcerned that Vartan Sirmakes had built a substantial portion of his business in the occupied Azerbaijani lands, where he had invested tens of millions of dollars in the plundering of Karabakh’s natural resources for thirty years.
Sirmakes focused his main activities on the development of gold mines. In particular, without the consent of the Azerbaijani authorities, the “Armenian friend of the European Parliament” was not only engaged in the exploitation of gold deposits in the occupied Kalbajar, but also showed a keen interest in the Gizilbulag deposit, which, in fact, was the reason for the protest of Azerbaijani environmentalists on the Lachin-Khankendi road.
Incidentally, the Gizilbulag deposit was in the center of intense emotions in the vein of Jack London’s Klondike stories. The “secretary of the Security Council” of the so-called “Artsakh” Vitaly Balasanyan and his brothers were always considered to be the main “owners” of this deposit. Later on, Sirmakes, who personally attended the inauguration of the Gizilbulag deposit, was also on the list of the mine’s shareholders. And after Russian billionaire Ruben Vardanyan showed up in Karabakh, there was a rumor that Balasanyan and Sirmakes would have to yield some of their shares to the “Moscow watcher”.
To get the full picture, we should add that Vartan Sirmakes, appointed Consul General of Armenia in Marseilles by former President Serzh Sargsyan, was one of the main sponsors of the separatist regime in Karabakh for thirty years of the occupation, being in charge of the international propaganda of the separatist regime established in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Armenian bribery mechanism for European politicians
Sirmakes spent part of the funds obtained as a result of the plundering of material resources in the occupied lands of our country to finance various projects of Armenian diaspora organizations. Among them, two organizations, the European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), were central and, accordingly, received the most generous funding.
The main goal of the European Friends of Armenia is building a bridge between Armenia and “Artsakh”, as well as intensive lobbying efforts in the agencies that determine the political and economic course of Europe. In other words, the EuFoA is working to integrate Armenia and “Artsakh” into the political, economic and social fabric of Europe. In particular, in order to draw international media attention to its goals, EuFoA organized a media tour to Armenia and “Artsakh” in September 2018.
However, the bad news for the reputation of the European Union is that EuFoA and AGBU, financed by Vartan Sirmakes’s “dirty money”, are closely and productively “cooperating” with members of the European Parliament. This refers in particular to the already mentioned thirty-three members of the Armenia Friendship Group, who consistently support the separatist regime in Karabakh.
For example, on March 1, 2018, on the occasion of the “30th anniversary of the Karabakh Movement”, this parliamentary group organized a conference at the European Parliament, during which the “relations of the European Union with Karabakh” were discussed, and proposals were made to strengthen EU influence in the issue.
Information about the “celebration” of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the separatist regime in the occupied Azerbaijani lands is available on the website of the European Parliament (https://eufoa.org/taking-stock-of-30-years-of-eu-policy-on-the-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-how-can-the-eu-contribute-to-peace-in-nagorno-karabakh/).
It can also be found in the social media accounts of the European Friends of Armenia (https://twitter.com/EuFoA/status/1603677447613972482).
Thus, it is not surprising that members of the European Parliament, who are generously “supported” by Vartan Sirmakes through the EuFoA and AGBU, vilify and disgrace Azerbaijan at every opportunity and make unfounded, sometimes provocative accusations against Turkey.
Another member of the European Parliament’s Armenia Friendship group, Cypriot Costas Mavrides, issued a statement calling on Azerbaijan to “stop military aggression against Armenia” and condemned Turkey for supporting the Azerbaijani army.
Another Cypriot, Lukas Fourlas, also a member of the EP “Armenian” group, is remembered for supporting Eva Kaili’s anti-Azerbaijani and anti-Turkish statements, accusing Azerbaijan of attacking Armenia and the environmental activists on the Lachin road of causing a “humanitarian crisis”.
Marina Kaljurand, Chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, former head of the Estonian Foreign Ministry and member of the Armenia Friendship group, also accused Azerbaijan, sayin she was “gravely concerned” by the blocking of the Lachin road.
However, not only EuFoA (European Friends of Armenia) and AGBU (Armenian General Benevolent Union), funded by Vartan Sirmakes, acted as intermediaries in delivering “dirty money” to European politicians.
The Armenian National Committee of Europe and the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) are also active in this regard.
The president of the latter is entrepreneur Kaspar Karapetyan. Like Sirmakes, Karapetyan made his fortune through illegal deals. This native of Greece with Armenian and Luxembourg passports is known as a billionaire oligarch and creator of the “mafia-lobby” corruption scheme, considered one of the most influential trends in the world.
On November 19, 2021, the European Parliament adopted another statement against Azerbaijan. Its author was Cypriot Lefteris Christoforou, who heads the National Delegation of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. He is often referred to as Kaspar Karapetyan’s “pocket MP”. In the European Parliament Christoforou closely works with Swedish politician Charlie Andreas Weimers. Both are members of the Armenia Friendship group.
When the Second Karabakh War broke out in 2020, Weimers tried to tarnish Azerbaijan’s just struggle. He tweeted, “This is a war of aggression by Azeri dictator Ilham Aliyev supported by Turkish President Erdogan’s jihadist allies from Syria, to enforce the injustice of Joseph Stalin’s separation of Nagorno Karabakh from Armenia.”
On the initiative of the EAFJD, MEP Martin Sonneborn and his colleagues visited Armenia and were received by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. It is telling that EAFJD President Kaspar Karapetyan also attended the meeting.
As in the case of Vartan Sirmakes, the MEPs diligently turn a blind eye to the background of Kaspar Karapetyan, a well-known smuggler of African diamonds, whose name is constantly mentioned in the materials of analytical centers on the activities of mafia groups in European states. In particular, a special paragraph is devoted to Karapetyan in the article “Armenian Mafia in Europe” (https://www.sovranitapopolare.org/2021/05/12/mafia-armena-in-europa/). The report specifically states that Kaspar Karapetyan, who smuggles diamonds into Europe from the conflict regions of Africa, is the godfather of the Armenian mafia in Belgium.
However, Karapetyan’s “black dossier” does not prevent some MEPs from actively cooperating with his EAFJD, regularly speaking against Azerbaijan and allowing themselves to make statements which are very far from the celebrated European political correctness. Suffice it to recall Angel Dzhambazki, Bulgarian MEP working with EAFJD, who said that “Azerbaijan attacked Karabakh” and added that “Ararat (Agridag) should be returned to Armenia”.
Of particular interest is the attitude of the Armenian lobby in the EU towards Turkey. Amid the Russo-Ukrainian war, there seems to be a rapprochement between the EU and the Turkish president, to whom Brussels is publicly grateful for the “grain and energy” operations. But there are also MPs calling on the European Union for “a tougher stance on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan”. Which, by the way, no longer surprises anyone, because this is advocated by the same 33 MEPs belonging to the Armenia Friendship group and toiling under the dominant influence of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD), that is, under the political orders of the mafia boss Kaspar Karapetyan.
Armenian billionaires disguised as “public organizations”
Corrupt lobbying accusations brought against the Vice President of the European Parliament Eva Kaili seem to have changed the situation, forcing members of the “Armenian” friendship group to be more cautious.
After the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office arrested Kaili, some information materials were removed from the European Parliament website. Among them were publications about MEPs’ cooperation with representatives of the Armenian diaspora. Apart from that, EAFJD, EuFoA and AGBU, which had until recently embraced EP members, also removed from their accounts documents on joint projects with the European Union.
It appears that this was done in a hurry and not all traces could be removed. In particular, the facts of cooperation with the European Parliament were taken out, but information remained in the internal database, from which it follows that the Armenian billionaires who sponsor MEPs continue their operations, using a diversified mechanism to influence the European political centers. That is, they either set up new organizations or reactivate the old ones under new names. For example, the Central Council of Armenians in Germany (Zentralrat der Armenier in Deutschland, ZAD) has been reactivated. The most recent messages posted on the ZAD website are aimed against the protest of Azerbaijani NGOs on the Lachin road (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063627789568&mibextid=LQQJ4d).
It follows from these materials that representatives of the Central Council of Armenians meet with human rights activists operating in Europe and spread misinformation about the Lachin road protest rally.
The Committee for the Defense of the Armenian Cause (CDCA Belgique – Comité de Défense de la Cause Arménienne – Hay Tad Belgium) established in Brussels has also become active as well, attempting to shape the anti-Azerbaijani and anti-Turkish agenda, influencing the European political centers.
It is known, for example, that the lobbying groups of the Committee for the Defense of the Armenian Cause called on the Belgian Prime Minister to deliver “strong messages” to their European colleagues at the European summit in Brussels to adopt decisions against Azerbaijan.
Thus, the work that used to be carried out mainly under the auspices of EAFJD, EuFoA and AGBU is now being carried out under the logos of CDCA, ZAD and other Armenian organizations.
Only the goals and the extensive funding remain unchanged.
The problem is that the current socio-political environment in Europe creates favorable opportunities for Armenian billionaires to pursue their agenda. With a common goal, these nationalist-minded “moneybags” operating in Europe, the US and Russia use various mechanisms, adapting them to local conditions.
For example, the diaspora organizations in the United States operate as public organizations. There are more than 20 of them there, including the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), and they all coordinate American Armenians. The situation is the same in Europe.
As a result, using the extensive network of public organizations, the Armenian billionaires who fund them gain leverage over the political centers that make strategic decisions.
Mushfig Aleskerli, Yegana Hajiyeva
Translated from haqqin.az