Moscow A meeting about every two weeks: Gerhard Schröder’s calendar was filled with his job as head of the supervisory board at the Russian oil company Rosneft. By the end of 2020, the former Chancellor had 90 appointments. He took part in 86 of them. This is what it says in the annual reports of the Moscow company (here you can download the annual report 2020). Accordingly, Schröder recently received around $ 600,000 a year for his job as chief controller.
He now has to do without this money. Because the former German head of government (1998 to 2005) gives up the post and leaves the supervisory board of Rosneft. This is according to a statement from the company. According to this, Schröder announced that it was impossible for him to extend his mandate on the committee. No details or reasons were given. The German businessman Matthias Warnig is also leaving the supervisory board with Schröder.
The former chancellor’s contacts with Russia have long drawn criticism. His office staff have resigned, and the SPD suggested that he leave the party. He also had to give up his honorary citizenship with the city of Hanover.
Most recently, the European Parliament voted in favor of EU sanctions against Schröder with a large majority. The reason is the ongoing activity of the SPD politician for Russian state companies such as the energy company Rosneft, according to a resolution adopted in Brussels on Thursday.
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Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) rejects sanctions. The Bundestag’s decision to cut Schröder’s state-funded office, including staff positions, was “logical,” said Scholz. He does not consider further steps to be “currently necessary.” However, the chancellor called on Schröder to give up his work for the Russian companies.
Gerhard Schröder came under increasing pressure because of Rosneft
Schröder, 78, is a longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Because of his war of aggression in Ukraine, the ex-chancellor has recently come under increasing pressure in Germany and internationally to no longer work as an oil and gas lobbyist for Russia.
Schröder gives up board positions at Rosneft
The SPD politician also holds management positions in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipeline projects – both natural gas pipelines through the Baltic Sea connecting Russia and Germany. The federal government has now put the pending commissioning of Nord Stream 2 on hold. Matthias Warnig is the head of the Nord Stream 2 operating company.
Politicians from the Greens and FDP consider Schröder’s withdrawal from Rosneft to be insufficient. It was high time that Schröder gave up his post at Rosneft. “But as long as he remains chairman of the shareholders’ committee of the pipeline company Nord Stream 1, he will also remain a Putin beneficiary,” said FDP presidium member Moritz Körner to the Handelsblatt. There should therefore be “tangible consequences” for him.
Körner criticized the negative attitude of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to EU sanctions against the former Chancellor. “If you leave the sanctioning of Gerhard Schröder with the removal of his office, Germany will lose credibility internationally,” said the FDP politician. “Putin profiteers should be subject to the same EU sanctions, no matter what passport or party membership they hold.”
Körner recalled that the former heads of government of Austria and France, Christian Kern and François Fillon, had completely stopped working for Russian energy companies when the war of aggression began.
The Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer made a similar statement. “Neither Mr. Schröder nor the SPD will be able to leave this matter behind with half measures,” Bütikofer told the Handelsblatt. He accused Scholz of refusing “the plain text” to Schröder. “Scholz’s statements about the Schröder cause show hesitation,” said Bütikofer. “Scholz speaks more as an SPD man and less as a chancellor.”
Schröder’s statement about “saber rattling” caused a stir
Among other things, Schröder caused a stir when, in the middle of the escalation before the Russian attack on the neighboring country, he criticized Ukraine’s demands for arms deliveries as “saber rattling”. On Thursday, the budget committee of the Bundestag decided to largely abolish Schröder’s former chancellor privileges. The politician wants to have it checked legally.
For personnel expenses in Schröder’s office alone, more than 400,000 euros flowed out of the state coffers last year. He will also be given rooms in the Bundestag for his office.
According to the decision, Schröder is also entitled to a pension. Former chancellors are entitled to this depending on the length of their term of office. Schröder is entitled to 35 percent of the current office salary and location allowance.
The former chancellor should also continue to receive personal protection from the Federal Criminal Police Office. Further privileges for former chancellors are drivers, company cars and reimbursement of travel expenses by the Federal Chancellery.
The decision does not go far enough for the Union: the CDU and CSU politicians also want to withdraw his pension from the former chancellor. It was said that Schröder harmed Germany’s international reputation.
More: Schröder has the withdrawal of privileges checked