Gerhard Schroeder will lose his staff after the former chancellor refused to cut ties with the Kremlin.
After resisting mounting pressure to sever ties with Russia, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder became isolated. Two secretaries and a driver had already requested their transfer to other posts in the Chancellery, outside Schroeder’s office. This is what Albrecht Funk, another Schroeder employee, told the news agency Reuters† Funk also applied for the transfer, but declined to comment on the reason. As a former chancellor, Schroeder has statutory rights to the chancellery’s employees.
Mandataries under fire
After his political resignation in 2005, Merkel’s predecessor took various positions in Russian energy companies. For example, he is a member of the boards of the oil giant Rosnef and Gazprom and the chairman of the Nord Stream 2 shareholder committee. For several weeks now, including from his former SPD, there has been a growing call for the same distancing from the Kremlin. In addition to Schroeder, other party representatives have been heavily criticized for lobbying in favor of Russian companies.
Last weekend, SPD leaders urged Schroeder, like other European politicians, to give up his posts in Russia. Their request fell on deaf ears. But in a recent statement he cautiously criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying that “Russia’s security interests do not justify the use of military means.” But he immediately described that statement by saying that “mistakes were made on both sides.” He then warned that further sanctions would “cut the remaining political, economic and social relations between Europe and Russia.”
† Schulz cuts past and will invest heavily in defense
Politicians from all walks of life urged the German government to stop funding the employees Schroeder was entitled to. The current chancellor, Olaf Schultz, makes relations between Schroeder and Russia uncomfortable, as he has long been accused of being too lenient with Russia. Critics have denounced Germany’s reliance on Russian energy, saying it will hinder the government from taking a harsh stand against Putin’s actions. Last week, Schulz turned things around by announcing that his government would supply arms to Ukraine.
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