Friday

4th Dec 2020

Ex-German chancellor warns EU on Russia summit

German ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has urged EU powers to stop backing Poland on trade and to counter US missile shield plans, or risk another unfriendly summit with Russia next month.

Speaking to press at a book-launch in Moscow on Saturday (8 September), he described Poland's outstanding veto on a new EU-Russia treaty as "narrow-minded nationalism" and called the US missile scheme "politically dangerous."

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  • The Kremlin - the next EU-Russia summit is on 26 October in Portugal (Photo: kremlin.ru)

"For the good of Europe it's sometimes necessary to forget about the interests of individual [member] states," he said. Poland imposed the veto in late 2006 in reaction to a Russian ban on Polish meat exports.

"It is Germany's responsibility...to persuade the United States to abandon these plans," he added, on Washington's push to build two rocket and radar bases in Poland and the Czech republic by 2012.

Russian first deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev - also attending the book-launch - echoed the statement, saying it addresses "real worries" that Germany is no longer a "bridge" in east-west relations.

Mr Schroeder led Germany from 1998 to 2005, becoming a personal friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin and later taking a job in the Kremlin's giant energy corporation, Gazprom.

At the last EU-Russia summit in May, current German chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Commission voiced solidarity with Poland and criticised Russia on human rights.

The next summit, to be held in Mafra, Portugal on 26 October, comes amid other complications such as Moscow's opposition to Kosovo independence, the Litvinenko spy row and aggressive posturing by the Russian air force.

EU top diplomat Javier Solana at a European foreign ministers' gathering in Portugal this weekend linked the tensions to the upcoming Russian parliamentary and presidential elections.

"We are in an electoral period in Russia so we don't expect that the next summit will be a revolutionary summit," he said, AFP reports.

But Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt hinted at deeper problems, saying "Everybody agrees that at the moment we don't have a strategic relationship with Russia."

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