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'Demonization of Russia Doesn't Help Anyone,' Ex-German Leader Schroeder Warns

© REUTERS / Morris Mac MatzenFormer German Chancellor and SPD member Gerhard Schroeder joins the campaign trail in Rotenburg, Germany, August 30, 2017
Former German Chancellor and SPD member Gerhard Schroeder joins the campaign trail in Rotenburg, Germany, August 30, 2017 - Sputnik International
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has called on political opponents to refrain from encouraging a "new Cold War" with Russia, amid criticism of his possible new role with Rosneft.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has commented on his candidacy for a position on the board of directors of Russian energy giant Rosneft, Sputnik Deutschland reports.

Schroeder is currently chairman of the board of directors of the Nord Stream 2 AG gas pipeline consortium, and was named as a candidate for the Rosneft position last month. According to unconfirmed reports in the Russian media, Schroeder is even in the running to chair the Rosneft board.

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Schroeder, a Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician, served as German Chancellor from 1998 to 2005. With an eye on federal elections on September 24, his successor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union told the Bild newspaper that Schroeder's decision is "not ok."

In a Facebook post, current SPD leader and candidate for chancellor Martin Schulz called the job offer a "private matter" which "doesn't have anything to do with the politics of the SPD," although he added that "I would not do it."

At a SPD function in Lower Saxony on Thursday, Schroeder responded to criticism of his proposed work with Rosneft. He warned political opponents against encouraging a new "Cold War" with Russia, and reminded them of his achievements as Chancellor.

"The mainstream was never a body of water that particularly interested me," Schroeder said, reminding his critics that many of them, including Merkel, were on the wrong side of history in 2003, when he opposed the Iraq war.

"Those people who are particularly critical of certain decisions now, then wanted to sign us up for the Iraq war. They never apologized for being on the wrong side," Schroeder told an audience of about 500 people, in Rotenburg an der Wuemme.

"All those people who are doing this again clearly have an interest in getting us into a new Cold War, for example with our great neighbor Russia," Schroeder said. "I'm not interested in that and I don't think the majority of Germans are either."

"Imagine if I had not been nominated for the oil company Rosneft in Russia, but for Exxon in America. What would the reaction of the press in Germany have been? Everyone would be enthusiastic and no one would be thinking, 'what are his motivations?'" the former German chancellor pointed out.

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He said that he is "glad to share" his motivations for accepting a position with Rosneft. 

"Firstly, this is the world's largest oil company which has a really important relationship with Germany." 

While the Russian government is the majority shareholder in Rosneft, others include BP, Glencore and the Qatari QIA fund, he pointed out.

"In the now nine-person board, the majority are not Russian. But this is not reported," Schroeder said.

"Contrary to what is occasionally portrayed, it is in no way the long arm of the Russian government."

The former chancellor warned against attempting to isolate Russia.

"I think that for economic and political reasons it is not reasonable to isolate our great neighbor Russia, economically and politically."

"There is a lot that I don't like about Russian politics. But I particularly dislike attempts to start a new Cold War. The demonization of Russia does not help anyone. And the integration into the global economy can help us all," Schroeder said.

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