Germany withdraws Schröder's privileges as former chancellor for his 'links with Putin'

On the day that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder turned 70, just a few weeks after the Russian invasion of Crimea, everyone of political mid-rank in Berlin was present at the party held at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art no less.

Germany withdraws Schröder's privileges as former chancellor for his 'links with Putin'

On the day that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder turned 70, just a few weeks after the Russian invasion of Crimea, everyone of political mid-rank in Berlin was present at the party held at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art no less. . The tribute speech by the president of the Social Democratic Party, Sigmar Gabriel, stressed that Schröder "is the whole of politics." At that time, the former German chancellor was already lobbying the large Russian energy companies, with very lucrative results for both parties, and the state-owned company Gazprom organized a second birthday celebration at the Yusupov Palace in Saint Petersburg, attended by Vladimir Putin himself, to which Schröder dedicated the treatment of "my friend Putin".

And so things have continued until the invasion of Ukraine has pitted the West against Putin and Schröder has refused to give up the million euros a year he receives for his managerial positions at Gazprom and Rosfnet.

The Social Democratic Party has opened an expulsion file, but it will take years to come to fruition. And, with more short-term effects, the German government has decided to withdraw the privileges that correspond to him as a former federal chancellor, which include an office in Unterden Linden and its employees, with total expenses last year of 418,531 euros, borne by the taxpayer. , which includes 11,789 euros in expenses for various trips. The office had been out of business for months because the staff had resigned en bloc after the invasion of Ukraine.

The partners of the "traffic light coalition", in which the Social Democrat Scholz governs with the Liberals (FDP) and the Greens, do not 'officially' justify the removal of Schröder's privileges with their attitude towards Russia and Putin, but present the reform as a rationalization of the use of resources that guarantees that the privileges of former foreign ministers "are decided in accordance with the current obligations of the office related to the position and not because of status." The reform, by the way, will affect former Chancellor Merkel, whose office has a budget of 800,000 euros a year. She will both retain, like the rest of the former foreign ministers, their retirement and personal protection benefits.

The decision appears as a footnote to a budget correction by the Federal Chancellery (chapter 0412) and is the biggest sign of a break with Schröder by the SPD that we will see for a long time. “The Budget Committee notes that former Chancellor Schröder no longer has any ongoing obligations related to his position. Therefore, the office of former Chancellor Schröder will be suspended," says the corresponding request from the parliamentary groups of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP.

The Budget Commission also calls on the Federal Chancellery to "ensure that the archives of the former chancellor's office continue to be managed in accordance with federal guidelines", which includes the rules on storage and the obligation to offer all documents to the Federal Archives. The conservative CDU wanted Schröder's pension to be cut, but the head of the SPD parliamentary group, Katja Mast, has argued that "salary and pension have to do with property rights and that would be constitutionally questionable."

The Government finally responds to an annotation from the Federal Court of Accounts, which had already requested a reform in 2018, so that former officials enjoy a uniform team that is gradually reduced, "given that permanent obligations decrease as the distance to the end of the term. Schröder's term ended 17 years ago.


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