25th Oct 2016

Ex-German chancellor causes stir after partying with Putin

  • Gerhard Schroeder switched to Gazprom after being German Chancellor (1998-2005) (Photo: Tim Reckmann)

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has come under fire after pictures were published showing him hugging and smiling at Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time when Russia continues to stir trouble in Ukraine and four German observers are being held hostage by Russian separatists.

A spokesman for Schroeder confirmed he was in Saint Petersburg on Monday (28 April) for a shareholders' meeting of Nord Stream AG, the pipeline supplying Germany with Russian gas directly through the Baltic Sea, circumventing Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states. Schroeder is chairman of the board at Nord Stream, a position he took just after quitting the German government, despite criticism both in Germany and abroad.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Der Spiegel reported that Nord Stream threw a birthday party for the 70 year old ex-chancellor, with Putin as a special guest.

Schroeder is still a respected German Social-Democrat and he campaigned last year for the SPD candidate, Peer Steinbrueck, who failed to replace Angela Merkel as Chancellor in the September 2013 elections.

Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Schroeder's former chief of staff who is now involved in brokering a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, downplayed the impact of the Schroeder-Putin hug: "Mr Schroeder has no governmental responsibility and is therefore free to decide when and where he holds his birthday party or to which events linked to his birthday he participates."

Members of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union were more criticial.

"The chancellor and foreign minister have tried to help stabilise Ukraine for weeks and keep the EU together while Putin is trying to destabilise Ukraine and divide the EU," Andreas Schockenhoff, a CDU member of the Bundestag in charge of German-Russian relations, said.

"Pictures like this play into the hands of Putin's propaganda," Schockenhoff added.

But then it turned out that one CDU member, Philipp Missfelder, also went to the Schroeder celebration in Russia. "Oh boy, oh boy," said one unidentified CDU member to Spiegel in reaction to that news.

The Schroeder-Putin hug could not have come at a more sensitive time, as EU states were just agreeing on which Russian officials to add to a blacklist, with 15 new names added on Tuesday. None of the gas magnates are on the list.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion