The conflict at the top of the state is going to court. Gerhard Schröder, German chancellor from 1998 to 2005, who has become a cumbersome figure for his party and his country since the outbreak of war in Ukraine due to his personal ties to Vladimir Putin, has launched legal proceedings against the German Chamber of Deputies , who deprived him of some of his benefits, his lawyer confirmed to Agence France-Presse on Friday.
The information concerning a legal action by Mr. Schröder against the Bundestag is “correct”, thus affirmed his lawyer, Michael Nagel. A spokesperson for the Berlin administrative court also confirmed that a complaint had been filed.
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Stripped of some of his benefits as a former chancellor
Last May, the lower house of the German Parliament decided to deprive the former Social Democratic head of government of some of his advantages because of his ties of friendship with Mr. Putin and with Russia. The deputies then ensured “to draw the consequences of his behavior (…) in the face of the Russian invasion in Ukraine”, according to the budget committee of the Bundestag.
As former Chancellor, he was notably entitled to several offices in the Chamber of Deputies and a budget was allocated to him to employ staff, for a total envelope of 400,000 euros per year. By this decision of the deputies, Mr. Schröder was deprived of the offices allocated to him by the Federal State. However, he kept his police protection and his chancellor’s retirement pension.
Speaking on Friday morning on regional public radio NDR, his lawyer ruled that this decision was “illegal”, Mr. Schröder having “learned all this only through the media”. Me Michael Nagel notably argued that the latter had also not had the opportunity to speak before the parliamentary committee responsible for ruling on these benefits. The Bundestag has not yet wished to comment on this complaint.
Claimed friend of Vladimir Putin and interests in Russia
The 78-year-old former chancellor had forged a friendship with the Russian president in the early 2000s, whom he described in 2004 as a “perfect democrat”. The man who also held a seat on the board of directors of the oil company Rosneft had resolved to leave it in May and had also announced that he would not join the board of directors of the Russian gas giant Gazprom, with which he has relations. old links.
But unlike most of the former European leaders present before the war in the governing bodies of Russian companies, Mr. Schröder was slow to resign from his various functions. Also very involved in Nord Stream AG, he had asked Berlin to reconsider the German government’s position on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the start of which was blocked as the invasion of Ukraine approached.
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Since then, the former chancellor has stuck to his guns. “I will not give up my opportunities for discussions with President Putin,” he warned on July 10 in an interview with the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. After his recent meeting with the Russian head of state in Moscow, he also affirmed that Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the conflict, remarks described as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Why should I apologize?” “, declared Gerhard Schröder in a long interview published on Wednesday August 3 in the magazine Stern, judging in particular “aberrant[e] » the idea that Ukraine recovers Crimea, annexed by Russia since 2014.
In this interview, Mr. Schröder also puts forward the hypothesis of Ukraine’s military neutrality and a solution on the model of the “Swiss cantons” for the Donbass, without giving further details. As for the energy crisis, he again accuses his own country of depriving itself of “using the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline”, a decision for which Germany will have to “assume the gigantic consequences”.
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For now still a member of the SPD
Dropped in recent months by some of his collaborators because of this position, and while about fifteen local sections of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) had demanded sanctions against Mr. Schröder, the latter has all the same was kept within the ranks of his political family, after a decision recorded this week.
“Gerhard Schröder is not guilty of a violation of the party regulations, because no violation could be proven against him”, explained the SPD section of Hanover (north), the stronghold of the former Chancellor, in a statement released on Monday. “The arbitration commission considers that the area of personal friendly relations is part of the area of private life”, she added, nevertheless considering “desirable” a “clear distancing” vis-à-vis M . Cheese fries.
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For the current leader of the party, Lars Klingbeil, the temporary failure of the exclusion does not detract from the fact that, “politically, Gerhard Schröder is isolated with his positions within the SPD”. The decision is “bad” for the “credibility of the SPD”, but also “bad for our whole country”, judged for his part Thorsten Frei, a member of the conservative opposition.
An appeal of the decision, considered by several members of the SPD, can still be lodged within one month. Gerhard Schröder also remains threatened by possible sanctions that the European Parliament could take.