Much has been said about it today on the internet and in the European press: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ex-director of the IMF, should be visiting the European parliament on Tuesday for a conference on the economic crisis, at the invitation of German deputy Alexandre Alvaro (ADLE). It is clear that not everyone is happy with the visit. Véronique de Keyser (Belgium, S&D) is the co-author of a letter to Martin Schulz, asking that the visit be cancelled, and explains why.
Touteleurope.eu: Why is M. Strauss-Kahn coming to the European Parliament on March 27th and why are you and your colleagues against this?
Véronique de Keyser : It’s the personal initiative of the liberal Euro-deputy M. Alvaro, who invited M. Strauss-Kahn, M. Juncker and M. Trichet a few weeks ago. Clearly there is no issue with the economic pedigree of the panel, but we have a rule at the Parliament, which is that deputies cannot have personal initiatives that create conflicts. This is just to keep the peace.
It is clear that for a number of women, especially at the Parliament, that the presence of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in itself, with the image that he has and all of the non-resolved affairs he’s involved in, disturbs the peace. There have been many protests, marches, and many women, including myself, have been shocked by the of DSK affair. And I’m not even talking about his legal problems, but about his relationship with women, harassment and his mixing sex and politics, etc. For us it’s pretty shocking that he’s even been invited, it will disturb the peace and that is not what we want. We’re in the European Parliament, but even more than that, we’re in Europe, in a difficult and complicated situation.
We need calm, and to be able to concentrate on our priorities.
Restoring DSK’s reputation is not, for me, one of our priorities.
Touteleurope.eu : What was your reaction when you heard about this visit? Have you taken any official steps to oppose it?
Véronique de Keyser : What I have done is entirely personal. We spoke about it last Thursday during an afternoon session in the Parliament and we said that we could not let that kind of thing happen. The European Parliament is not a place for photo-calls.
That afternoon there were three of us, Isabelle Durant (Belgium, ADLE), Zita Gurmai (Hungary, S&D) and myself, and we said that we should write to Martin Schulz, the President of the Parliament, and who we all know personally. The letter circulated through the Parliament and we sent it yesterday. This created a bit of a buzz, which goes against the calm that we were trying to preserve. But we sent it to all members of the Parliament, and we got a lot of reactions, and I’m pleased that the presence of Dominique Strauss-Kahn does in fact create a lot of reactions.
Touteleurope.eu : If the invitation stands what will be your reaction?
Véronique de Keyser : I will definitely make my dissatisfaction know, as it is not ok to do that kind of thing in the parliament. With all of his controversies, and I’m not even going to go into the Sofitel and Carlton claims, M.Strauss Kahn represents the mixing of sex, politics, scandals and the media…Could he not discuss economics somewhere that is not the Parliament, if he wants to hype up an event?
So I would calmly protest but I would be shocked, and I would find it improper.
Touteleurope.eu : What have been the reactions to your actions, inside and outside of the Parliament?
Véronique de Keyser : I’ve had reactions from French citizens, clearly informed by the media, and they told me that they would come from France to try and stop him from coming to the Parliament!
But you must understand that this is not a concerted campaign, just to create media hype, but we think that in view of the rules governing the regulation of holding events in the Parliament, that Martin Schulz has the power to at least suggest to the organizers that they go elsewhere.
The Parliament finds it increasingly difficult to not turn into a media circus. When the potential for it is as large as this, I think the issue is beyond debate. They have crossed a line.
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