France, Germany and Russia. What a lovely place Europe would be without them. Throughout history they have constantly been bullying their neighbours. When the big ones team up, the little nations of continental Europe better beware or they will be gang raped, like Poland in 1939. This explains why it is imperative that Europe be Atlanticist. If it turns continental the three big ones will extort the little ones. The latest proof of this has just been provided in a new German-Russian deal that resembles the pact between Adolf Hitler and Joe Stalin to squeeze Eastern Europe.
Apart from Adolf Hitler, Gerhard Schröder is Germany’s most repulsive chancellor ever. During his seven years in office – which ended last month – the Socialist politician forged Berlin into an alliance with France, where his friend, the French crook Jack Chirac, is in charge, and with Russia, through his friendship with former KGB chief Vladimir Putin. A compulsive America-basher, Schröder did tremendous harm to the Atlantic Alliance. We now know why. Barely three weeks after his resignation on November 22 it turns out that Herr Schröder’s private pension scheme is a lucrative job on the Kremlin’s payroll. Last Friday the former German chancellor was appointed foreign policy advisor of Gazprom, the Russian state-owned oil and gas company, and chairman of the board of commissioners of NEGP, the Russian-controlled consortium that is building a gas pipeline from Siberia to Germany.
NEGP (North European Gas Pipeline Company) is a joint venture of Gazprom (for 51%) and two German companies, E.ON and BASF (each for 24.5%). The bilateral gas agreements between Germany and Russia were signed by Schröder last September 8, just 10 days before the German general election, which he lost. Schröder’s last visit to Putin dates from October, when he surprised some German journalists by mysteriously declaring: “Who says that this is going to be my last visit here?”
In a plan reminiscent of the Stalin-Hitler pact to rip off Poland, Putin and Schröder agreed to build the NEGP pipeline on the Baltic seabed rather than through Poland, despite the far greater expense. The plan has infuriated Central European and Baltic countries. They realize that the Baltic Sea route allows Russia to cut off gas to Central and Eastern Europe while still delivering to Germany. The pipeline, which should be ready by 2010, will allow Moscow to demand the same price for oil and gas from its former satellites as from the Germans, thereby putting the squeeze on countries that, according to Putin, are gravitating too much toward the West.
Many have wondered why Germany went along with this project. The Washington Post asked yesterday: “Could it have been because the former chancellor realized that he was, in effect, creating his own future place of employment?” Schröder’s switch from the top job in German politics to a job funded by the Russian government also explains why during his seven years in office the America-baiting Socialist “went out of his way to ignore the gradual suppression of political rights in Russia” and why he “thwarted attempts to put unified Western pressure on Russia to change its behavior.”
According to the German press Gazprom will pay Schröder at least one million euros per year for his “political advice.” When a journalist asked Schröder during his final press conference as chancellor to comment on the political situation, he said: “This is the last time that I will give my advice for free. The next time I will charge the usual rate.” Everyone laughed, thinking it was a good joke, but the last laugh surely was on Schröder.
The former chancellor is not the only German who is going to work for NEGP. Matthias Warnig, the head of Dresdner Bank in Russia, has been appointed CEO of the pipeline company and will become a close collaborator of the former chancellor. Herr Warnig is a close friend of Putin’s. In fact, their friendship goes back to the time that they were both working for the local gestapos of their respective countries. Warnig was a Major in the East German secret service Stasi from the mid-1970s until the collapse of Communist dictatorship in 1989. Putin worked as a KGB agent in East Germany in the 1980s. Warnig was assigned to help him recruit spies in the West. In 1990, Warnig settled in Saint-Petersburg, where Putin was deputy-mayor at that time, to head the local branch of Dresdner Bank. When Putin moved on to the Kremlin, Warnig moved to Moscow to become the Dresdner boss in Russia.
Schröder has rejected criticism of his new job as head of the company he launched with Putin. He announced yesterday that he will take legal action against everyone who accuses him of sleaze.