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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid