News / Europe

Schroeder Criticized for Warm Embrace of Putin

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Germany's former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder attend an economic forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, June 21, 2012.
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Germany's former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder attend an economic forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, June 21, 2012.
Reuters
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Sunday his controversial meeting with Vladimir Putin helped win the release of European military observers held in eastern Ukraine days later and he urged the West to stop focusing on sanctions on Russia.
 
Criticized for media pictures that showed him warmly embracing the Russian president at an April 28 meeting in St. Petersburg, Schroeder said he appealed to Putin to do what he could to free the seven Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers. They were released on May 3.
 
“The Russian president is not a persona non grata,” Schroeder told Welt am Sonntag newspaper when asked about whether it was appropriate to invite Putin to a party celebrating his 70th birthday. “I was really pleased he was able to come because I knew there would be a chance to talk.”
 
Schroeder was attacked in German media for bear-hugging Putin at a time of high tension between the West and Russia over Ukraine.
 
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government immediately distanced itself from Schroeder, saying that Schroeder was acting as a private citizen.
 
The meeting underscored German ambivalence about tougher sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have taken over government buildings in the east and are holding a referendum on self-rule on Sunday - less than two months after Russia annexed the Crimean region following a similar referendum.
 
Schroeder said he had talked to Putin about Ukraine.
 
“And as far as the situation with the OSCE observers goes, it led to a successful result. I used the chance to ask President Putin to help free the hostages.”
 
Separatists had captured the monitoring team on April 25 and called them prisoners of war. A Swede was freed on health grounds, while four Germans, a Czech, a Dane and a Pole were held until May 3.
 
“I believe talking to the Russian president is the right thing to do,” Schroeder said. “I don't have anything to hide, and I'm not going to change the way I am. That's the way we've been greeting each other (bear hug) for the last 14 years, and that's not going to change even in tough times.”
 
Long friendship

Chancellor from 1998-2005, Schroeder has been Putin's best friend in the West since both were ostracized by U.S. President George W. Bush for opposing the 2003 Iraq invasion, but he is sometimes called a Putin apologist in the West.
 
“One should be speaking less about sanctions right now but instead about Russia's security interests,” Schroeder said when asked if he was disappointed with Merkel's crisis management. “I keep hearing that the West 'has to isolate Russia and Putin.' “
 
On Saturday Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said they were ready to agree more extensive sanctions against Russia if a planned presidential election in Ukraine on May 25 is foiled.
 
Schroeder has been excoriated for speaking out in favor of Moscow and against the German government position at times during the Ukraine crisis. His critics say his views are colored by his 250,000 euro salary as board chairman for a pipeline joint venture with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom.
 
But others believe the former chancellor's friendship with the Kremlin leader keeps open an important channel of dialogue for Germany.
 
Schroeder said the climate during his one-to-one meeting with Putin was “friendly but also serious.” He declined to reveal further details of their talks.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John Alder from: Europe
May 11, 2014 12:30 PM
When will finally be reported more about the fact that Gerhard Schroeder, when he was German Chancellor, adopted two Russian small children from St. Petersburg with the active help of President Putin? Under German law Schroeder, at his age, would not have been able to adopt. The German press reported about it at the time, although not widely. The fact that Putin was involved makes it likely that also that affair was quite 'fishy.' It also is an element in explaining the close relation between the two men.
In Response

by: asuman galubale from: kampala
May 23, 2014 1:44 PM
the US is acting desperately 2 have sanctions on Russia thinking this will boost its declining economic and military power. haven't you hard on the news (of course not CNN,BBC and the lik) that today many American have a single meal?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs