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German government rejects sanctions call against former chancellor Schroeder

Staff Writer | March 20, 2018
The German government rejected a call to impose European Union (EU) sanctions on former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (SPD) due to his professional connections to Russia.
Gerhard Schroeder
Germany   An amicable relationship with President Putin
"The federal government and the chancellor do not see any reason to consider such measures," Steffen Seibert, official spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) told the press.

Seibert's comments were a response to corresponding suggestions made earlier by the pro-U.S. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin. Speaking to newspaper Bild, Klimkin had described Schroeder as "Putin's globally most important lobbyist" and urged the EU to "assess how it can react."

The former chancellor is known to have an amicable relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. After his political retirement in 2005, he joined the gas producer Gazprom and has acted as chairman of the board at the state-owned gas oil company Rosneft since 2017.

German officials have benefited from his resulting influence in Moscow at times, such as during an effort to free staff of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who were taken hostage in Ukraine in 2014.

Schroeder has denied assertions that Rosneft constituted the "extended arm of the Russian government," noting that several international public and private entities such as BP, the state of Qatar and Glencore held shares of the country's largest oil producer.

He has further stated that he was motivated by a desire to contribute to ensuring Germany's and Europe's energy security in joining Rosneft's board.

Questioned on Monday whether he too would seek a similar appointment in international business, the recently-departed foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) told press the he intended to focus on charitable work.

Similarly, Chancellor Merkel has said that she will not assume a "private sector job" when she retires from the role of chancellor.