German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has criticized former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder over his trade ties with Russia. These relations have negative consequences for both Schroeder and the country, he says in a conversation with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
“Schroeder’s commitment to Russian energy companies raises many questions in Europe, and especially among our neighbors in Eastern Europe, including with regard to our country,” said the president. He believes that much of what Schroeder did as prime minister was overshadowed by this.
The two Social Democrats (SPD) have worked closely together for years, but their relationship has since soured. Steinmeier explains that he walked “the same path” with Schroeder for fifteen years, but now he’s been on his political path for seventeen years without him. “During that time, Schroeder made personal decisions that separated us from each other,” Bild am Sonntag is quoted as saying.
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Steinmeier was Chairman of the Schroeder Chancellery from 1999 to 2005 and later became Minister of Foreign Affairs. Both men took a pro-Russian stance during their political careers. Steinmeier acknowledges that mistakes have been made in Russian politics. Schroeder recently decided to step down as chairman of the supervisory board of Russia’s state oil group Rosneft after criticism. It is still involved in the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline projects.