Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has defended in principle the reconciliation policy of his predecessor Angela Merkel (CDU) with Russia. “The attempt at reconciliation can never be wrong, and neither can the attempt to get along peacefully,” said Scholz in an interview with the German Press Agency. “I see myself close by my predecessor’s side.”

However, the SPD politician assessed the energy policy towards Russia in recent years quite differently. “But it was a mistake in German economic policy that we concentrated our energy supply too much on Russia without building the necessary infrastructure so that we could quickly change course if the worst came to the worst,” he said. As Hamburg’s mayor, however, he himself campaigned for the construction of liquid gas terminals on the north German coast. “Now we have to catch up quickly.”

When asked whether that meant that he hadn’t made any mistakes in Russia policy, but Merkel had, Scholz said: “That is an inadmissible shortening of my answer. I always worked well with the former chancellor and I see no reason to question that afterwards.”

A week ago, Merkel defended her much-criticized Russia policy in a first interview after she was handed over to Scholz and refused an apology. In an interview with the editorial network Germany published on Saturday, she reiterated this attitude – also with regard to energy policy. “I didn’t believe in change through trade, but in connection through trade with the world’s second nuclear power,” she said.