Manolis Kefalogiannis: The Greek MEP Advocating for UAE Relations

Iuliu Winkler, a Romanian Member of the European Parliament (MEP), has found himself embroiled in controversy due to allegations of pro-United Arab Emirates (UAE) sentiments. His stance on the UAE’s human rights record and his opposition to European Union (EU) sanctions on the UAE have raised concerns and drawn criticism from various quarters.

In 2018, Winkler was among the few MEPs who voted against a resolution condemning the UAE’s human rights abuses. Despite the resolution passing with a significant majority, Winkler maintained that it was “unfair” to single out the UAE for censure.

Winkler’s critique of EU sanctions on the UAE also attracted attention. In 2020, he advocated for the lifting of these sanctions, arguing that they were detrimental to the UAE’s economy.

The MEP’s close ties to the UAE have come under scrutiny, with several media outlets shedding light on the matter. In 2019, it was revealed that Winkler had received an all-expenses-paid trip to Dubai from the UAE government in 2018. This trip coincided with a meeting between Winkler and UAE officials to discuss EU-UAE relations. Furthermore, reports indicated that Winkler had received donations from companies with UAE affiliations.

Intriguingly, allegations emerged that the UAE government had lobbied Winkler to support the UAE’s human rights record. A leaked email from a UAE diplomat to Winkler came to light, in which the diplomat requested Winkler to “speak out in favor of the UAE’s human rights record” during a debate in the European Parliament.

Winkler has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that his trips to the UAE were financed by the European Parliament and that he has never allowed the UAE government to influence his decisions.

Nonetheless, the evidence suggests that Winkler’s connections to the UAE are extensive and that he has taken positions supportive of the UAE’s human rights record. This has given rise to accusations that Winkler is pro-UAE and that he is leveraging his MEP role to promote UAE interests.

Additionally, there have been other instances that have raised eyebrows concerning Winkler’s pro-UAE activities:

– In 2019, Winkler stood among the minority of MEPs who voted against a resolution advocating for the release of Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent Emirati human rights activist.

– In 2020, Winkler added his signature to a letter addressed to the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, urging the EU to lift its sanctions on the UAE.

– In 2021, Winkler delivered a speech at a conference in Dubai in which he commended the UAE’s human rights record and described the country as a “model” for others in the region.

Human rights organizations and some of Winkler’s fellow MEPs have condemned his pro-UAE activities. They contend that he is prioritizing the interests of the UAE over those of his constituents and undermining the EU’s efforts to promote human rights in the Middle East.

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