SPIEGEL: Mr. schröder, a new candidate in chancellors from the SPD, Martin Schulz (Martin Schulz) has awakened great hopes. In the Saar they were not justified. If it was just a short hype?
Gerhard Schroeder: It was a land elections, also in the area of the little earth. There was elected a very popular Prime Minister. In Germany there is this strange habit to consider every municipal and land elections as a vote on the Federal policy. But it’s not.
— Was it a mistake that Schulz and the SPD openly campaigned for the red-red coalition?
— Schultz said, I’m open to all of the democratic coalition, of course, provided that the SPD is the strongest party. In principle, this is reasonable.
— However, the CDU could attract much less voters, if the social Democrats ruled out the option of red-red-green coalition.
— The SPD has no right to give ourselves to the ghetto. Is it possible to implement this option, it is quite another matter. Because it must be implemented on the terms of the SPD, not on the terms the party “the Left.” We explain who is the cook and who the waiter is, if we use the word play used red-green. However, I don’t think it will turn out until the Lafontaine family in the party of the “Left” sets the tone.
— You mean, Oskar Lafontaine (Oskar Lafontaine) and his wife Sarah Wagenknecht (Sahra Wagenknecht)?
— Yes, I think that the red-red-green coalition can be created only when the “Left” of the right to vote will be reasonable people, such as, for example, the Prime Minister of Thuringia Bodo Ramelow (Bodo Ramelow).
— At the Congress of the SPD Martin Schulz was elected with the support of 100% the candidate in chancellors. Such unity in the SPD was still never.
— The SPD wants to win, finally win. And the party knows that you can win only when they are together. In this respect, it is obvious that the SPD has been a collective change in consciousness. And the party confidently said: Yes, we want this, and this candidate we will succeed.
— Is there in Germany a change of mood?
The situation reminds me a little of what it was in 1998. Then we won not only because it was so good. Good we were, no question, but we won also, because people said Helmut Kohl (Helmut Kohl) more is not good. For new calls, he is not the most suitable person. We have not made that mistake to go with Helmut Kohl as if he didn’t have any historical achievements. The achievements he had, no doubt. We said then: thank you, Helmut, but now it is enough.
Now SPD has to say: thank you, Angela, it was good but now enough?
— Yes, that’s right: Frau Merkel did not only errors, but in many situations, made the right decisions. Recognizing this, show not weakness, but strength, and the SPD should do this. I think the people have this opinion that twelve years is enough.
— That is the good performance of the SPD polls less dependent on the personality of Martin Schulz?
— There was supposed to match both: there is a desire for changes without radical upheaval. And that is Martin Schulz. Therefore, I believe, in the current situation he is the right candidate.
You could present yourself as a candidate for Chancellor, and Sigmar Gabriel (Sigmar Gabriel). You even publicly supported him, made a couple of months ago his biography. Were You surprised by the resignation of Gabriel?
— I would say that I wasn’t privy to. But I was not surprised.I was under the impression that Sigmar Gabriel internally has long remained undecided. But if you want to become Chancellor and to lead the election campaign of the SPD, then you really need to want to take this post and be ready for it. He had his doubts.
— That is Gabriel and without it would be an unlikely candidate?
— I believe that the narrower circle of leadership of the SPD was wise. He did not press, and with respect to the fact that Gabriel himself is still not understood in all that relates to this post. The user sent a signal that we will be with you. This of course became a prerequisite for what in the end he was able to say: I don’t want to.
In other words: so he could resign without losing face?
— If the leaders of the SPD admitted that in anticipation of this decision, he doubted that there would be no such unity.
— If Gabriel didn’t have the balls, something about Schultz to say.
He doesn’t need to knock on the door of the office of the Chancellor and say, I want it here. But you can feel that Martin Schulz wants to become Chancellor. It is clear that he wants this, and indeed. And rightly so. Voters in Germany will never give up this post of someone against whom they have doubts whether the people of this post. Once in the edition of SPIEGEL discussed the candidacy of Engholm Bjorn (Björn Engholm). The basic tone was this: what will be, will be. Thus, he wanted to show that he was a politician of a different type, not as power-hungry as others. Rather, it is the man who does not want to be in the front row. It is worthy, but it is a wrong strategy. If You are struggling for the position of Chancellor, then You have to aim in the first row. Otherwise it will not work.
— Martin Schulz has tried to profile itself criticism of your Agenda-2010. How painful it is for You?
— It is not. In his speech at the party Congress he said that the policy of reform was large, required throw, which strengthened Germany.
— It is somehow not remembered. When Schultz listed the successes of the SPD, there was no mention of the policy of Agenda 2010. There was only Your “no” to the war in Iraq. In his speech in Bielefeld he even talking about errors, there was not a word about the merits.
— Let’s not go to extremes. Speech at the party Congress is much more important than a speech in Bielefeld. There he addressed the trade unionists and therefore chose other highlights. But he has not distanced itself from Agenda 2010 as such, but just talking about errors.
— That is You do not interfere with what Schultz says that Your social policy is necessary in another place to adjust?
— I said earlier that the Agenda 2010 is not the ten commandments, and I was not Moses. It’s been 14 years since I introduced the reforms. Then there were other framework conditions: five million unemployed, empty offices, social-payment. Today’s a different world, thankfully. The policy must deal with today and tomorrow.
And that while is among the specific plans of correction, for example, the size of the unemployment benefit or the regulation of terms of employment, not whether it exceeds Your pain threshold?
— While the leadership of the SPD stated that it did not want to touch the basic principle of reforms “to Support demand”. This is an important point. Second, it wants to remove the Agenda 2010, and to develop it further, particularly in qualifying. I believe that because of the digitalization of the economy is not only reasonable, but necessary.
— Warning You Mr Schulz, before you speak on the policy of Agenda 2010?
— Why did he have to do?
— He probably doesn’t want to lose You as a support in the election campaign.
— He will not lose. I have always supported my party. Also in the election campaign in those days, when reform policies quite openly criticized.
That is, You haven’t spoken with Schultz?
Why, said. We had a long conversation after his speech in Bielefeld, and it was very friendly.
Your biographer Sellen Gregor (Gregor Schöllgen) believes the criticism of Schultz policy reforms, and warns against the wrong roll of the party to the left. He warns about passwords that sound “lafontaines”.
Here he is right. Then all the SPD would be the same as the HDZ and the Right wing. In that moment, when the CDU and CSU believe that we should learn the passwords of ADH, they support the original. And then people choose the original, not plagiarism. But the SPD will not do. I am sure that Martin Schulz is knows very well. Without the economic competence of Germany elections to win. Therefore, he will not allow any election program, which would put into question the economic competence of the SPD
Another important topic, which the SPD wants to profile in the election campaign, it is defence policy. Donald trump (Donald Trump) has demanded from the Federal government to provide for the defense of two percent of GDP. Should Germany stick to this agreement?
— What says Mr. trump, do not correspond to the decisions of the various summits of NATO, neither in 2002 nor in 2014. This mandatory 2 percent target does not exist. But I fundamentally think it is wrong to constantly demand more and more money on weapons. Then constantly try to argue the alleged Russian threat. But the reality is, however, quite different if you look at how much someone has spent on defense: U.S. 596 billion dollars, China 215, 87 Saudi Arabia, Russia 66, UK 56 billion dollars. That is, Americans spend on the army nine times more than the Russian.
— Americans do not want to continue to pay for Europe’s security. They demand that the Europeans, and is rich in Germany, are more worried about their own defense. What’s wrong with that?
But we are doing it. We do this within a framework that we think is right. It is the sovereign right of each state. In addition, I would say to Mr. Trump: compare the proportion of development assistance that you provide in accordance with the obligations of the UN, with that portion which we provide. Our contribution is not too small, but however much higher than yours. In America make a mistake when they think that security guarantees only a strong and equipped army. It is not, as shown by the movement of refugees. It just can’t stop heavily armed army.
— So trump wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
— But he forgets that America only because it is so strong and is an example for many people that it was a country of immigrants. Here then something will change. Not for the better.
How deep the crisis of American democracy? Does Donald trump end of the West?
— I do not think so. But we need more distance. America is not blessed country. When I look at how trump treats the press, I have the impression that media freedom is really in danger. We must therefore very clearly show where our borders, including in relation to America. Not enough when we want to do it only against Turkey. We need to tell Mr. Trump that we are not satisfied, even if it is a little difficult, I readily admit.
Whether Mr. Trapp in Your eyes crystal clear Democrat?
— Oh, look, this question… It’s just despicable.
— Ask in another way: if the trump threat to democracy?
What he is trying to eliminate the major media, is really dangerous for democracy. And yet I’m not completely pessimistic, because I believe in American institutions. In America has always been extreme: the tea party movement on the one hand and great writers, as, for example, too early deceased Susan Sontag (Susan Sontag). And this balance has always worked. When you elected Ronald Reagan (Ronald Reagan), all squeal, too, and said the former actor, awful? Reagan was one of the greatest US presidents, and foreign policy. Why? Because he was listening to smart advisers. The question is whether the trump listens to these people, or he believes that he can do everything himself? Until he listens to smart advisors.
— You know the Russian President Putin, called him a friend. It is believed that Putin and trump resemble each other: two macho, authoritarian, traditional. If they can find a common language?
— Mr. trump I don’t know personally. But I think both are still quite different characters. Vladimir Putin is much smarter than Donald trump.
— Do You expect rapprochement between Russia and the United States?
It would be desirable in view of the great challenges in the middle East. Russian politician says: we are ready for any improvement of relations, but we want to see things. And on the other side all the same. You need a certain amount of trust and mutual respect, to negotiate purposefully.
— Last weekend, tens of thousands in Russia took to the streets against corruption in Putin’s Empire. He was arrested hundreds of young people. Is this the right reaction to peaceful protests?
— Of course not. Russia, in the long term to be successful in politics and the economy, we need an open society. And corruption is one of the greatest disasters in the country. But we also have to remember that this society in the past decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union experienced a huge turning points. There is one part of society wants modernization, but another significant portion of society wants and also stability. And smart policy needs to combine both.
You — not only a friend of Vladimir Putin, you also have a rapport with the Turkish President Erdogan. Correctly responded to the Federal government for the comparison with the Nazis, and to escalate the dispute?
Erdogan made a big mistake. So hurt Germany and its government is highly pointless and insulting. The fact that the Federal government, Chancellor Merkel and foreign Minister Gabriel calmly reacted to this, was right.
— All the same argument escalated because Erdogan is needed in domestic politics.
— Yes, of course. And so it was a mistake that the Federal government was in question, someone here in Germany has the right to speak, hide in the communes. We have done so, if it was only about the missing car parks or fire protection. And it was a political case.
— As Federal Chancellor, You greatly supported the process of Turkey’s accession to the EU. Was it a mistake, if you look at Turkey today?
— On the contrary. In past years we have missed an opportunity to more closely tie Turkey to Europe. It was a mistake that after 2005, the CDU only talked about privileged partnership and not membership. This has reduced the enthusiasm in Turkey in relation to Europe and led to the fact that not only Erdogan, who was then Prime Minister, but just a liberal-minded Turks feel pushed aside.
— Was it possible to prevent what is happening today?
In any case, not only Turkey makes mistakes. No matter how the outcome of the referendum on the Constitution, Turkey needs us. She is a member of NATO and our flank to the regions with the civil war in Iraq and in Syria. It is an important economic partner. And last but not least because millions of Germans have Turkish roots. We need to look forward. We need Turkey, just as Turkey needs Europe and Germany.
— How useful can in this case be a good personal relationship between the two political leaders?
— Friendships help to start a particular conversation. But much more important are the interests of States, which they must present at their posts.
— How well Merkel knows how to treat a man like Erdogan or Putin?
— I don’t know if Frau Merkel this type of politicians. Have power policy in most cases, respect each other. I am sure that in respect to these three it is.
— It sounds like You do not believe, that Mrs. Merkel knows how to deal with macho. But other macho she found quite a good approach.
— Maybe it’s not about who’s macho and who’s not.
— Between You and MS Merkel relationship is not so bad?
Frau Merkel recently submitted my biography that I was pleased. And basically: when slowly it goes to the 75th anniversary, all opposition is relative. Even now I often meet with Edmund Stoiber (Edmund Stoiber).