‘Transparent... unlike Labour’s Azeri deal’, Casa reacts to questions on EU gas

The European Commission signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership in the Field of Energy with Azerbaijan

Nationalist MEP David Casa
Nationalist MEP David Casa

The Nationalist MEP David Casa fended off questions from Labour news channel One TV journalists on a new Azerbaijan gas deal for the EU, by accusing the Maltese government of never having shown transparency on its Electrogas deal with Azeri state company SOCAR.

On Monday EC president Ursula von der Leyen met the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership in the Field of Energy in a bid to move away Europe away from Russian fossil fuels.

Casa replied to questions from Labour journalists saying the Commission’s deal with Azerbaijan was “fully transparent” and that there was no stench of corruption about the deal, unlike that with the Maltese government.

“All the international media was present for the signing of the deal. The agreement was transparent and has no whiff of corruption in it,” David Casa said on Tuesday, mocking the questions put to him. “This is the stark difference between the agreement of the Labour government and the one signed by the European Commission.”

Since 2014, Malta has sourced gas through Azerbaijan’s trading arm in Geneva, SOCAR, a deal tainted by corruption accusations linked to Muscat’s closest allies in government at the time the Panama Papers broke.

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat, architect of the privatisation deal for the Electrogas plant partly owned by Azerbaijan’s SOCAR, toasted the move as vindication for his own policy to secure the Caspian partners, as part of Labour’s plan to reduce energy bills and stabilise fuel prices.

Labour deputy leader for party affairs Daniel Micallef also pitched on, calling out the “false morality” of what he said were “oracle” silenced by Europe’s embrace of the autocratic regime of Azerbaijan.

A voice of disagreement came from Stefano Mallia, an employers representative at the European Economic and Social Committee within the EU, and a former Nationalist candidate for Europe.

“What the European Commission has done here is unacceptable. We have moved from one dictator and straight into the arms of another one. To quote ‘Azerbaijan is a key partner...’ –  really? Did Commission President  Ursula von der Leyen ask about human rights there? Did she ask about rule of law there?” Mallia said, pointing out that Azerbaijan has the abysmal score of 9 out of 100 in terms of freedoms in the Freedom House ranking. “This is a major mistake. Putin must be having a good laugh. This agreement should be withdrawn.”