BELGRADE – In a sharp criticism of the EU’s policy towards Russia, German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that had the Brussels bureaucracy been “a bit smarter” many conflicts with Moscow could have been avoided and Germany would not have suffered the effects of the sanctions, German NRD TV reported.
Speaking at a German-Russian economic forum in Bad-Piermont, Mr. Schroeder said that Brussels should have invited Russia to take part in the talks on Ukraine’s association with the European Union.
“Some of the conflicts that followed could have been avoided if officials in Brussels had been “a bit smarter,” he emphasized. Gerhard Schroeder, who served as German Chancellor from 1998 to 2005, insisted that “despite all our differences,” the West should resume “partnership relations” with Moscow, adding that Europe needs a strong Russia while the US needs a weak Russia to economically prevail over the continent. “We need more than just resources, we need a market.
“[Russia] is our neighbor. We have been the hardest hit by these foreign trade bans. Why should we suffer when we know that these sanctions simply make no sense,” Schroeder wondered.
After the US, the EU and a handful of their allies imposed a series of sanctions against several major Russian companies following Crimea’s decision to join the Russian Federation in March 2014 in the aftermath of the Maidan coup, Russia retaliated by launching its own sanctions on August 7, 2014. These affected the import of certain food products, such as cheese and produce. The original decree signed by President Vladimir Putin declared the embargo would last for one year, but it has since been prolonged in step with EU/US sanctions. In June, the EU Council extended anti-Russian sanctions until January 31, 2017, and Russia extended its counter-sanctions until December 31, 2017. The counter-sanctions have had a negative impact on Western food producers. European farmers in particular have lobbied their governments to lift sanctions against Russia.