BERLIN, August 3. /TASS/. Germany’s former chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder (served from 1998 till 2005), has said that the country’s former leader Angela Merkel (in office in 2005-2021) and the then foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, made a "wise decision" at the 2008 NATO summit to prevent Ukraine from joining the alliance.
"Ukraine's NATO membership is a blessing. Who prevented this at the NATO summit in 2008? Angela Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier," Schroeder said in an interview with Stern magazine published on Wednesday. "It was a wise decision. Even [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky said that there was an alternative, such as Ukraine’s armed neutrality without NATO membership, like Austria’s," he added.
At the same time, Schroeder pointed out that "if you look at the problems that are really relevant, they are solvable."
"First, Crimea. To think that Ukrainian President Zelensky will take over Crimea again by military means is absurd. With the exception of the Tatar minority, this region is Russian. The former Soviet state and party leader, Nikita Khrushchev, handed it over to Ukraine, which at that time was part of the Soviet Union," Schroeder said.
"This could be solved with the help of a timeline, maybe not in 99 years’ time, the way it happened with Hong Kong, but in the next generation," he believes. Also, among the current problems, Schroeder believes, Ukraine’s already mentioned wish to join NATO stands out. The situation in the Donbass, according to Germany’s ex-chancellor, is more complicated. "It was stipulated in the Minsk agreements that Donbass shall remain part of Ukraine, but at the same time the Russian minority should have more rights. But the Ukrainians abolished even bilingualism in Donbass. For this, it is necessary to achieve a solution using the Swiss confederation as a model," Schroeder concluded.
In early June, during her first contact with the media since leaving office Germany’s former chancellor, Angela Merkel, explained why she opposed Ukraine's fast-tracked entry into the alliance at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest. She said "Ukraine was then a different country, it was strongly divided in the field of domestic politics." In addition, Merkel speculated that at that time Russia might have interfered with the accelerated admission, and "this would not have done any good." At the same time, as Merkel noted, "Ukraine was a country under a great influence of the oligarchs.".