Head of Germany’s Russophile business lobby group resigns – POLITICO

BERLIN — The head of the German lobby group Committee for Eastern European Economic Relations, Oliver Hermes, announced on Tuesday that he would resign from his post.

Hermes, who is also CEO of the Dortmund-based pump manufacturer Wilo, served as chairman of the so-called Eastern Committee for three years, with the aim of strengthening trade ties between Germany and the countries of Eastern Europe. the East, including Russia.

Hermes cited the tougher business environment caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine as the reason for his resignation.

“Not only geopolitically, but also economically, businesses are facing a turning point,” he said in a press release in which he also condemned the war but argued that “mutual economic dependencies…potentially contribute to de-escalation. “.

The pressure group, which wields significant influence in German politics and affairs, for years maintained close ties with Russia and – until the invasion of Ukraine in February – turned a blind eye to the territorial aggressions of the Kremlin and the violation of human rights by Russian President Vladimir Putin. and international rules.

When Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020, Hermes warned of further sanctions against Russia. “We cannot let this matter turn into a long-term strain on our bilateral relations and further restrict German-Russian economic ties,” he said as the Russian opposition leader was treated in a hospital. Berlin hospital.

The Eastern Committee was far from alone: ​​German business leaders have long had close ties with Russia for economic reasons, with the government also supporting a policy of Wandel durch Handel, or political change through trade, until it all collapsed with the onset of war, discrediting whole swathes of so-called Putinversteher — Putin apologists — overnight.


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