Economy & Politics

ColumnThe Trio Infernale and the Fall Tönnies

Capital columnist Bernd Ziesemer columnist Bernd ZiesemerMartin Kress

For a monthly salary of 10,000 euros plus expenses, the former SPD boss spent a quarter of a year for a large slaughterer, who deals more than shirtlessly with compliance with the law in his factories. In public, some get excited about the case itself: how could Sigmar Gabriel get on as an advisor to such a dodgy figure? The others consider his salary too high. And the third criticize the chutzpah with which Gabriel reacts to the cause.

However, all of this can be seen differently with a cool head: Clemens Tönnies really needs consultants, whom he might listen to for once. Why not Gabriel, who no longer has a political office but now primarily wants to make money in the next few years? And the fee isn’t as lavish as the envious people in his party put it. Gerhard Schröder, for example, can only laugh at such sums.

There is something completely different about the case: Gabriel was not in the service of the butcher as a PR consultant and was not commissioned to otherwise help Tönnies in the Corona crisis. The former Federal Foreign Minister was to help the big slaughterer with his officially acquired contacts in the sale of pig feet and bacon rinds to China. Just two years have passed since he left office – and the former minister is already rushing into business with a regime that has been criticized worldwide for all kinds of evildoers these weeks. That’s the true scandal.

A kind of private side foreign policy

Gabriel is not the first political pensioner from the SPD ranks who can expect high fees, especially in the Chinese business. His model, Gerhard Schröder, who stands out for us as Vladimir Putin’s mouthpiece, apparently sees the People’s Republic as a second mainstay. And for the former Minister of Defense Rudolf Scharping, tireless mediation between China and Germany has even become the main source of income in recent years. Three former SPD leaders as all-round contact persons for the communist leadership in Beijing – all respect for Xi Jinping! A tremendous success for the so-called united front policy with which China is buying influence in the West. From a German perspective, however, the Trio Infernale of a kind of private secondary foreign policy.

The truth is: German politpensioners generally do not have a particularly high market value on the international stage. No American company would come up with the idea of ​​making Gerhard Schröder Chairman as at Rosneft in Russia. And the British government would probably not court Rudolf Scharping with glamor and glory as an “old friend”, as the Chinese do. And although Gabriel is even at the head of the German-American Atlantic Bridge, you don’t really need him to open the door in bilateral economic relations. The former politicians are only valuable to the dictators of this world – especially the Chinese.

Bernd Ziesemer is a capital columnist. The business journalist was editor-in-chief of the Handelsblatt from 2002 to 2010. Until 2014 he was managing director of the corporate publishing division of Hoffmann and Campe. Ziesemer’s column appears regularly on Here you can follow him on Twitter.


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