December 3, 2022

Merkel: No regrets about energy policy with Russia

Merkel: No regrets about energy policy with Russia

LISBON (Reuters) – Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she has no regrets about the path her government took in energy policy and Russia during her time in power, which critics say has left Europe’s largest economy heavily dependent on Russian gas. .

Germany and other European countries are trying to end their dependence on Russian oil and gas after Putin sent troops to Ukraine as part of what he calls a special military operation.

Last year, 55% of German gas imports came from Russia, in part because Merkel sought to establish trade ties with Russia and prop up the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, even after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.

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“You always act when you find yourself,” she told reporters in Lisbon when asked about her government’s approach to Russia.

Merkel, who retired from politics last year after 16 years as chancellor, said she had never believed in the idea of ​​a “Wandel durch Handel”, or bringing about change through trade.

“In this regard, I don’t regret the decisions at all, I think they were correct from the perspective of time,” she said, adding that cheap Russian gas had allowed Germany to move forward with the phase-out of nuclear power and coal.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a press conference ahead of the Gulbenkian Foundation Awards Ceremony, in Lisbon, Portugal, October 13, 2022. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

However, Germany has now postponed these plans Read more Read more as it strives to replace shipments of throttle gas from Russia.

German inflation, driven largely by high energy prices, is 10.9% and the government has committed to spending billions of euros to help families and businesses pay their rising energy bills.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, designed to double gas imports from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, was suspended in the days before the invasion.

“This brutal invasion by Russia has now brought about a change. This is a turning point,” Merkel said, referring to Germany’s energy policy.

This is a task that the new German government, led by Social Democrat Olaf Schulz, will have to deal with, she said.

Merkel was speaking on the sidelines of an event to announce the winner of the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanitarianism, for which she chaired the jury.

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(covering by Catarina Dimoni), writing by Rachel Moore; Editing by Raisa Kasulowski

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