Despite his close ties to the Kremlin, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is allowed to remain a member of the German Social Democratic Party. A committee within the SPD had already decided in March not to sanction Schröder, but some local branches have appealed against it. This party’s Federal Arbitration Board now rules the appeal inadmissible. With that the case is closed.
The commission said in March that the SPD committee “could not ascertain with sufficient certainty” that Schroeder had violated the party’s laws, principles or rules, or that he had engaged in a dishonorable act.
It is possible, the commission wrote, that senior German politicians “miscalculated the risks of dependence on Russian energy supplies over the past 25 years.” This also applies to other politicians, both inside and outside the party, and it still seems so. “However, it would be too much to accuse Schroeder of such a miscalculation.”
Close relations with Putin
Schroeder has long been criticized for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian oil and gas industry. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this criticism increased.
In May last year, a few months after the start of the war in Ukraine, he decided, under pressure, to give up his post on the board of directors of the energy company Rosneft. He also gave up a similar position at Gazprom. The former chancellor once called Putin an “impeccable democrat.” Schroeder served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005.
The current party leadership has always stressed that the former prime minister is isolated within the party, but how they will deal with him remains unclear. The summit will have to decide on this by the end of this year: then the party will hold a congress, and usually all former presidents, including Schroeder, are invited to attend. At that congress, the party will also make decisions about its foreign policy and, accordingly, its attitude towards Russia.
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