Former German Chancellor Schröder certainly knows how to stay in the headlines. His wildly lucrative business deals are not giving his critics a chance to even begin lowering their eyebrows.
"Take my mother-in-law...please!" Schröder prepares for a life in stand-up
When asked what his plans were after leaving the White House, former President Bill Clinton responded -- frankly and without any qualms -- that he was interested in making money. The enticing connection between politics and profit seems to have captured the imagination of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as well.
They have the same agent: Gerhard Schröder and former US President Bill Clinton
Schröder's office announced on Tuesday that the media-savvy former chancellor had landed another lucrative business contract, this time with New York-based public speaking booking agency.
The Harry Walker Agency, which already boasts a stable of prominent ex-politicians including former US presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, reportedly commands up to $250,000 (210,000 euros) per speech. Schröder's office declined to comment on his rate for speaking engagements.
The press is having a blast
The mass-market German daily Bild reprinted a promotional letter by the Harry Walker Agency in which it announced its "exclusive representation of Gerhard Schröder, German chancellor 1998-2005."
"The twice elected leader of Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, has been a major force on the world's political stage for the past eight years," the letter printed in Bild and signed by a company executive said.
Schröder closed the Russian-German pipeline deal while still in office
"Chancellor Schröder is a leading world statesman and internationally recognized authority on global relations, economic development and social change. I look forward to speaking with you about scheduling this charismatic and influential world leader for an upcoming event."
Schröder's swift career moves and his ability to turn his political experience into profitable business deals has been picked up in other European countries as well:
"(Schröder) made a name for himself with his opposition to the Iraq war. That increases the price of his fame, if not his weight as a statesman," the Italian daily Corriere della sera commented on Wednesday.
Same old story
Schröder already came under fire in German and European political circles this month for taking a job with a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is building an ambitious gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, just after he left office in November.
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The four-billion euro pipeline agreement was signed just 10 days before the German general elections in September, at a ceremony attended by Schröder and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The 61-year-old Schröder, who is also setting up shop in Berlin as a lawyer, has already accepted a position as a part-time adviser on international political affairs for the Swiss publishing group Ringier.
To prepare for his new career in international business, Schröder recently spent 12 days brushing up on his English skills in the Welsh countryside.
Introduction of honor code unlikely
Members of the opposition Green party in the German parliament -- who used to be Schröder's coalition partners during both of his terms in office -- are now toying with the idea of introducing a binding honor code for former politicians in Germany.
Constitutional Court President Hans-Jürgen Papier
President of the German Constitutional Court Hans-Jürgen Papier, however, seemed skeptical about the proposal.
"I am not sure if such a code of honor could ever cover all the possible cases," Papier said.
"In the end, leaders in high offices should be able to judge for themselves what is appropriate, morally acceptable and fair," he said.
Parliamentary group leaders are expected to address the issue at a meeting on Jan. 17.