Friday

26th Aug 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.

Slovakia's Fico goes to Russia

The Slovak prime minister, whose country currently chairs the EU council, will meet the Russian leader ahead of upcoming EU talks on Russia policy.

News in Brief

  1. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  2. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  3. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  4. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  5. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  6. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content
  7. Sweden to name new EU ambassador
  8. Deutsche Boerse and LSE request EU merger approval

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  2. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  3. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  4. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  5. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  6. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  7. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  8. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  9. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  10. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  11. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  12. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?