Berlin — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday urged former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to resign from his post at a Russian state-owned company.
Schroeder, 77, is considered a longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The relationship has led to much criticism in Germany, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine last week.
Schroeder is chairman of the supervisory board of Russia’s state-owned energy company Rosneft, and has worked on the controversial Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipes intended to carry Russian gas directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine. It also holds a leading position in line projects. He will also assume a post on the Supervisory Board of Gazprom, Russia’s majority state-owned multinational energy company.
“My advice to Gerhard Schröder is, ultimately, to withdraw from these posts,” Scholz said on ZDF television.
Scholz stressed that Schroeder’s ties to Russian companies are not a personal matter as he is a former prime minister.
“This obligation does not end when I am no longer in office, it continues,” he said.
Germany’s Chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and, like current Chancellor Scholz, a member of the Social Democratic Party, Schröder has long been criticized for his close ties with Russia.
German Social Democratic Party leaders Lars Klingbeil and Saskia Esken said on Thursday they had written a letter asking Schroeder to resign from his post at the Russian State Enterprise.
While a strong ally of the United States and a member of NATO, post-war Germany has sought to maintain good relations with Moscow, a policy driven by business interests and German energy needs.
Earlier this week, however, Scholz said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine required a dramatically different response from Germany than in the past, announcing that the country would send anti-tank weapons and surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine. This stunning decision to abandon Germany’s longstanding refusal to export arms to conflict zones is nothing less than a historic break in the country’s post-World War II foreign policy.