German Right Vows Improved U.S. Relations; Russian Ties Face Review

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Byline: Nicholas Kralev and Tom Goeller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

BERLIN - The conservative Christian Democrats and their Free Democratic partners will restore Germany's alliance with the United States and downgrade Berlin's ties with Russia if they win elections in September, leaders from both parties say.

In a series of interviews, they also said that they would review their alliance with France, which they intend to keep strong, but warn Paris not to challenge Berlin to choose between the United States and France, as was the case with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.Wolfgang Schaeuble, deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary group who is in charge of foreign policy, accused Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a Social Democrat, of undermining trans-Atlantic ties.

"We have great interest in close relations with Russia, but they have to be balanced and should in no way be directed against the Atlantic partnership," said Mr. Schaeuble, who was interior minister under CDU Chancellor Helmut Kohl and helped negotiate Germany's 1990 reunification.

Germany's neighbor Poland should not be left out of German-Russian developments, and Berlin should be more critical of "the state of democracy in Russia," Mr. Schaeuble said.

"All this was not respected by Schroeder, and the closeness with Russia went far too far," he said. "We would change this nonsense and re-establish the balance in German-Russian relations."

Guido Westerwelle, chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the CDU's junior partner, said Mr. Schroeder has criticized Washington more often than Moscow.

"It is not acceptable that the German government is often very critical of Washington - sometimes rightfully so - but stays silent on Russian violations of legal matters," he said. "For example, Mr. Schroeder had nothing to criticize about the verdict in the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky."

Khodorkovsky, an oil magnate and one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's leading opponents, was sentenced this week to nine years in prison for fraud and tax evasion.

Wolfgang Gerhardt, chairman of the FDP parliamentary group, said Mr. …