Merkel vows bigger E.U. role in ties to Russia

14th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 September 2005, BERLIN - Opposition candidate Angela Merkel vowed Wednesday to give the European Union a bigger role in dealing with Russia if she defeats Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in German general elections this weekend. Schroeder has focused far more on bilateral links between Berlin in Moscow, a move which has alarmed some east European neighbour countries including Poland and the Baltic states. Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin have developed a close personal and political friendshi

14 September 2005

BERLIN - Opposition candidate Angela Merkel vowed Wednesday to give the European Union a bigger role in dealing with Russia if she defeats Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in German general elections this weekend.

Schroeder has focused far more on bilateral links between Berlin in Moscow, a move which has alarmed some east European neighbour countries including Poland and the Baltic states.

Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin have developed a close personal and political friendship, aided by Putin's fluent German which he learned while stationed as a KGB officer in former communist East Germany from 1985 to 1990.

While saying she would maintain a 'strategic partnership' with Russia, Merkel said this would not be enough.

"I will make efforts for a joint European Union foreign policy on Russia - aside from bilateral ties - in which all 25 member states are included," said Merkel at a news briefing.

In a nod to eastern Europe, and an apparent dig at Schroeder, she added: "I view it as very important that all countries are allowed to take part."

Asked if her fluent Russian would help in doing business with Putin, the candidate laughed and said: "The fact that I speak Russian won't make Russia policy."

Opinion polls predict Merkel will win this Sunday's general election but it is unclear if her desired centre-right government will clinch a majority.

If Merkel's Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) falls short, she is likely to try to set up a coalition with Schroeder's Social Democrats as junior partner.

DPA

Subject: German news

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