Olaf Scholz signed a gas agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday to cap up a two-day trip to the Persian Gulf area, but the German chancellor's visit was overshadowed by worries about human rights.
Scholz visited the area in order to seek alternative supplies for his nation's energy-hungry economy in the face of Russia's suspension of gas supply to Germany and the sharp rise in energy costs in Europe.
His travel occurred at the same time as TotalEnergies, a French energy company, signed a significant agreement with Qatar on Saturday. As part of the agreement, TotalEnergies would take a 9.4% stake in the project and invest in the exploration of a new gas field for LNG exports.
Scholz signed a deal for the delivery of 137,000 cubic meters of LNG during a stopover in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, on Sunday morning. This LNG is expected to reach northern Germany before the end of this year, according to German energy supplier RWE. Thus, it is conceivable that the cargo will arrive in time to assist the biggest economy in Europe in coping with this winter's gas shortage and the effects of what Scholz has referred to as Russian energy "blackmail."
The LNG agreement, however, can only partially offset the 56.3 billion cubic meters of gas that Germany imported from Russia in 2020. German energy companies have been attempting to replace the Russian gas with impromptu purchases on the international market, but they are far more expensive.
The UAE agreement is better since it has a set price and also includes extra LNG supplies in the upcoming years. Recently, Scholz asserted that his nation "will come through this winter."
The gas agreement is a component of a larger "Energy Security and Industry Accelerator Agreement" between Germany and the UAE, which, according to Scholz, "will enable the swift implementation of strategic lighthouse projects on the focus areas of renewable energies, hydrogen, LNG and climate action,"
The chancellor signed a contract for the supply of 33,000 tons of diesel to Germany this month and additional monthly diesel shipments of up to 250,000 tons while being accompanied by a business delegation.
Before returning to Berlin early on Monday, Scholz will resume his energy negotiations in Qatar later on Sunday.
The journey of the chancellor comes amid ongoing worries about the Gulf region's human rights condition.
Scholz visited Saudi Arabia on Saturday and had a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss a range of commercial matters, including German investments in Saudi Arabia's potential green hydrogen production. Both leaders also spoke on the war in Yemen and the conflict in Ukraine, where Scholz tried to persuade bin Salman to adopt a tougher stance against Moscow.
A short time ago, Jamal Khashoggi, a writer for the Washington Post, was killed by Saudi government operatives, and bin Salman was accused of endorsing it.
When questioned on Saturday about whether he brought up Khashoggi's murder with the crown prince: "We discussed all the issues that revolve around questions of civil and human rights. That is how it should be. You can assume that nothing has remained undiscussed that needs to be said. "
Renata Alt of the Free Democratic Party, who chairs the German parliament's human rights committee, had encouraged Scholz to express his worries about human rights during his visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar.
"As important as it is to secure energy supplies to Germany, it is equally important to respect human rights worldwide. You cannot negotiate about one without addressing the other, " she said.
Prior to the trip to the Gulf, a top German official stressed the significance of striking a balance between commercial and energy security objectives and human rights concerns.
In international relations, you often run into situations like these, the official remarked. "You have to consider: What are the interests of our country, what are the interests of Europe, what role does Saudi Arabia play in this strategic neighboring region? The prospect that the crown prince will steer the fortunes of the kingdom for the next 10, 20, 30 years suggests that we need a solid working relationship in which differences can and must be discussed, but in which we also take note of the fact that there is a whole range of partnership approaches between Germany and the kingdom, "said the official.
The official said, "We are not sitting here in world court over third countries without making any concessions about our clear condemnation and classification of Mr. Khashoggi's murder ... these things exist in parallel; that is the reality."
By fLEXI tEAM