March 28, 2015
Translated from German by Tom Winter
Spiegel’s summary: Former Chancellor Schroeder gauges Angela Merkel’s Russia policies: The EU dealings are too one-sided, the international isolation is wrong; he has understanding about Moscow’s concerns, but not for the worries of Poland and the Baltics.
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder criticized the activities of Chancellor Angela Merkel vis-a-vis Russia. Berlin ought not have let it happen that the EU Commission dealt only with Ukraine and not also with Russia on the subject of association with the EU, he said to Der Spiegel. Further, the attempt to isolate Russia internationally, the Social Democrat considers wrong-headed. As Chancellor, he had vetoed excluding Russia from the G8. “When it comes to a crisis, talks are absolutely necessary,” said the Chancellor.
The former chancellor evinced understanding for Russia being concerned about encirclement. “With the end of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist, but NATO was not only kept on, but has been considerably expanded to the east.”
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin committed a breach of international law with the annexation of Crimea, yet has adopted a policy of accepting the rest of Ukraine as an independent state.
Chancellor Schroeder finds the anxiety of Poland and the Baltic States about Russia hard to comprehend. He knows “no one, including in Russia, who is so so messed up as to consider putting the territorial integrity of Poland or the Baltics into question,” he said.
Schroder faulted Berlin’s Greek policies: “The course of some ministers is too little European, and too German,” he lamented.
Comment on breach of international law:
Recent history shows that International Law, and what is legal or illegal in it, depends on a nation’s foreign policy. The UN’s International Court of Justice found that Kosovo’s secession and declaration of independence were legal; no one has asked for the Court’s finding on plebiscites and independence declarations in lands of the former Soviet Union. It is western policy to dismiss them out of hand as “illegal,” or to ignore their existence altogether, as if they had never happened.