Angela Merkel has insisted she has no regrets about the course her German Government took with its energy policy and Russia during her time in power. During the war in Ukraine, furious critics have lashed out a deal struck when she was German leader has left Europe’s biggest economy too dependent on Russian gas. Last year, 55 percent of Germany‘s gas imports came from Russia, partly the result of Mrs Merkel backing the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline – even after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
European countries, including Germany, are desperately trying to cut their heavy reliance on Russian oil and gas following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
But Mrs Merkel is standing by the decisions made by her German Government over Russian gas imports into the country.
The former Chancellor told reporters in Lisbon when asked about her government’s approach to Russia: “You always act in the time in which you find yourself.”
The European Union powerhouse, who retired from politics last year after 16 years as German leader, said she never believed in the notion of ‘Wandel durch Handel’, or bringing about change through trade.
She added that cheap gas from Russia had enabled Germany to press ahead with gradually phasing out nuclear and coal.
Mrs Merkel said: “In this respect, I do not regret decisions at all, rather, I believe that it was right from the perspective of the time.”
But Germany now finds itself in an extremely difficult position heading into the cold winter period as it scrambles to replace throttled gas deliveries from Russia.
In the days leading up the Ukraine war, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, aimed at doubling gas imports from Russia into Germany via the Baltic Sea, was scrapped.
German inflation has skyrocketed to 10.9 percent, which has largely been driven by soaring energy prices, with recent forecasts suggesting the country’s economy is on the brink of recession.
The country’s Government has committed to spending billions of euros to help households and businesses throughout the country pay for their rising energy bills.
In reference to Germany’s energy policy, Mrs Merkel said: “This brutal invasion by Russia has now brought a change. This is a turning point.”
Earlier today, Hermany’s finance minister insisted fighting rising inflation is the Government’s top priority and demanded reforms that would lift Europe’s largest economy out of an imminent downturn.
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Speaking on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting, Christian Lindner said Germany had fallen behind other countries because it was especially vulnerable to Europe’s energy crisis and supply chain disruptions.
He said in Washington: “Inflation is the biggest danger for our economic foundation. Inflation can bring that foundation to erosion.
“We are not in a good position compared with other strong industrial nations,” he said. “We’ve been resting on our supposed strengths for too long.”