Schröder blames Georgia for crisis with Russia

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has criticized Georgia for the war over South Ossetia, calling Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili a gambler, and warning against allowing the country to join NATO.

Schröder blames Georgia for crisis with Russia
Big buddies Photo:DPA

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine due out on Monday, Schröder said he thought Georgia’s chances of joining the transatlantic alliance had moved “even further into the distance,” following the fighting with Russian forces.

Schröder’s comments are sure to be scrutinized due to his close personal and political friendship with former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as well as his acceptance of a Gazprom job immediately after leaving office.

Schröder said he would support the idea of sending German troops as part of a potential peace-keeping mission under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

But he added that should such a mission be instigated without the explicit support of Russia, “I would not like to see any German soldiers stationed there.”

Russia was not pursuing an annexation policy in the Caucasus, he said, and said he saw no reason for the concept of “strategic partnership” between Germany and Russia to be affected by the war.

“I reject the idea of demonizing Russia. I consider Russia as a part of Europe,” he said.

Schröder has been heavily criticized for his dealings with Russia during and immediately after holding office.

While still in office, he and his wife Doris adopted a young Russian girl, and later adopted a Russian boy.

He described Putin as a good democrat just as the rest of the world was starting to seriously doubt his democratic credentials, and took a lucrative job at a Gazprom subsidiary company after leaving German political office.

His appointment at the company responsible for building a controversial Gazprom pipeline under the Baltic Sea was defended at the time by the then Gazprom vice president Dmitri Medvedev – now the country’s president.