Expatica news

Germany to reconsider Schroeder’s perks over Russia ties

The German government will consider withdrawing perks given to ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Germany’s finance minister said Saturday.

Schroeder, who is a lobbyist for Russian gas, sparked fresh outrage after he told the New York Times that he would only give up his links if Russia stopped delivering gas to Germany.

He said he did not believe this would happen.

There should be “consequences” for Schroeder’s refusal to sever ties with several Russian groups and his failure to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, Finance Minister Christian Lindner told the Funke newspaper group.

It is “no longer conceivable that an office is made available to him paid for by the taxpayer”, Lindner said.

As former chancellor, Schroeder has the right to several offices in the German parliament and a budget for staff. The perks cost the taxpayer 400,000 euros ($422,000) per year.

“The former holders of high-level posts, who are clearly on the side of criminal governments, cannot count on state support,” Lindner said.

Schroeder’s perks could be reduced during debates for the 2023 budget.

“It would be wise to streamline the facilities of former high-level officials and to reduce them over time. In this context, we should also discuss some sort of code of honour regarding behaviour,” liberal FDP party leader Lindner said.

The FDP is part of the coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Pressure is growing on Schroeder, 77, and he has become a troublesome figure for Scholz, who he mentored.

Several cities have withdrawn his honours and there are mounting calls on Scholz’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) to expel their former leader.

Most former European leaders who had ties to Russian businesses before the Ukraine war have resigned from their roles.

Schroeder is president of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, the controversial pipeline between Russia and Germany which for the moment does not have an operating licence.

He also has a senior position with Rosneft, Russia’s main oil company.

Before the invasion, Germany reached out to Russia, believing that developing trade ties would encourage democracy to gradually flourish in the country.