Xavier Bettel: the prime minister was subject to questioning in parliament on Tuesday afternoon
Photo: Christophe Olinger
Politics: A parliamentary debate regarding prime minister Xavier Bettel’s private meeting with André Kemmer has left opposition parties frustrated.
DP prime minister Xavier Bettel deflected the most searching questions from opposition parties during a parliamentary session on Tuesday afternoon over the controversial private meeting he has admitted to holding with Srel officer André Kemmer. The so-called Bettel-Kemmer affair has been making headlines for several days.
The meeting, which was brokered by a government driver, Mike Gira, was held in the autumn of 2012. It is viewed as controversial because at the time Bettel was a member of the parliamentary commission looking in to misconduct and illicit surveillance by the Srel--Luxembourg’s secret service--including the subversive recording of a conversation between Srel boss Marco Mille and then prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker.
Bettel did not inform the commission of his meeting with Kemmer and only resigned from the commission several months later. The commission’s findings eventually led to Juncker asking for parliament to be dissolved and fresh elections resulted in Bettel becoming prime minister.
The opposition CSV has suggested that the meeting was part of a premeditated plot to bring down the Juncker government, a coalition between his CSV party and the socialist LSAP. The CSV parliamentary leader, Claude Wiseler, wanted to know if there was any truth in reports that during the meeting someone said “Juncker’s time is over”.
Bettel has said he could not remember whether those words were part of the conversation. But Eugène Berger, the secretary of state for the environment, said that the sentence “fits in neatly with the CSV fairytale of a coup”. Berger suggested that the words may have referred to the former prime minister’s alleged drinking problem, and cited a statement from Kemmer in which he referred to Juncker being drunk at a meeting.
Bettel admitted in parliament that he made a mistake in not informing the commission immediately of his meeting with Kemmer, who was subject to questioning by the commission later. “When I heard that Mr. Kemmer had said in a pub ‘I am protected by Bettel’, I had confirmation that I was being manipulated. I should have informed Mr. [Alex] Bodry [the commission president]…because I had nothing to hide. The reasons for my resignation were honourable reasons.”
But Wiseler was far from satisfied with the parliamentary session on Tuesday afternoon. “In our view there is much that remains open, many questions are unanswered and on many points the truth has not been told over the last weeks and months. This has severely damaged the credibility of the prime minister in our eyes.”
Bodry said that even though Bettel should have informed him of the meeting, the meeting between Bettel and Kemmer did not influence the findings of the commission by one iota. If Bettel were not prime minister today the meeting would not even be subject of a discussion, he said.