Local officials led by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met on Thursday to consider ousting former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Schroeder’s longstanding ties to Russia’s energy sector and his refusal to completely distance himself from President Vladimir Putin after Russia invaded Ukraine have left his political standing in tatters.
An arbitration panel in the branch of the center-left Social Democratic Party in Hannover, where Schroeder lives, was considering expelling Schroeder on 17 applications from party members.
No immediate decision was expected. In Germany, expulsion of party members is a complex process and often unsuccessful.
Schroeder did not appear at the hearing and did not have a lawyer representing him, Deutsche News Agency dpa reported.
Schroeder, 78, shows no signs of heeding calls from party leaders to resign voluntarily. From 1998 he was Prime Minister until 2005, and from 1999 he was the leader of the Social Democratic Party until 2004.
In May, Russian state energy company Rosneft said it planned to step down from its board of directors, which Schroeder has chaired since 2017. Joined Gazprom’s Board of Directors on February 24.
Schroeder has separate ties to the Russian energy sector, having for many years chaired the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, the company that operates the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, Heads 2 boards of directors. His second pipeline, which the Scholz administration halted in his February. He is a longtime friend of President Putin.
In May, German parliamentarians agreed to close Schroeder’s taxpayer-funded office.
Dodging pressure, Schroeder said in a comment to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Monday that he would “not give up the opportunity to talk to Putin” and questioned the focus on providing arms to Ukraine. presented.
“I don’t believe in a military solution,” he said.