Olaf Scholz completed a two-day trip to the Persian Gulf region by signing a gas deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday, but the German Chancellor’s mission was overshadowed by human rights concerns.

With Russia halting gas supplies to Germany and the soaring energy prices in Europe, Scholz traveled to the region to provide alternative supplies to his country’s energy-intensive economy.

His journey took place as the French TotalEnergies announced a great deal with Qatar on Saturday, under which the French energy giant will invest in the search for a new gas field for the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and will take over 9.4 percent. participation in the project.

During a stop in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, on Sunday morning, Scholz signed a contract for the delivery of 137,000. cubic meters LNG to be delivered to northern Germany at the end of this year. According to to the German energy supplier RWE. The delivery is therefore likely to come in time to help Europe’s largest economy overcome this winter’s gas shortage and deal with the effects of what Scholz has described as Russian ‘energy blackmail’.

The LNG deal, however, can only compensate for a small part of the 56.3 billion cubic meters of gas that Germany used Received from Russia in 2020. German energy suppliers are trying to replace Russian gas with last-minute purchases on the world market, but these come at a much higher price.

The agreement with the UAE, which also includes additional LNG supplies in the coming years, has a fixed price and is therefore more favorable. Scholz recently said his country would “survive this winter.”

The gas deal is part of a wider “Energy Accelerator and Industry Accelerator Agreement” between Germany and the UAE, which will “enable rapid implementation of strategic lighthouse projects in the areas of focus on renewable energy, hydrogen, LNG and climate action,” Scholz said.

The chancellor, accompanied by a business delegation, also signed a contract for the supply of 33 thousand. tonnes of diesel oil to Germany this month and further monthly diesel deliveries up to 250 thousand. tone.

Scholz will travel to Qatar later on Sunday for additional energy talks before returning to Berlin early Monday.

Human rights concerns

The Chancellor’s departure coincides with continued concerns about the human rights situation in the Gulf region.

On Saturday, Scholz paid a visit to Saudi Arabia where he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss various business issues, including German investments in future green hydrogen production in an Arab country. The two leaders also discussed Russia’s war in Ukraine, in which Scholz tried to persuade bin Salman to take a tougher stance on Moscow, and the war in Yemen.

Not long ago, bin Salman was an internationally pariah for his reported role in endorsing the m*rder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi government agents.

Asked if he raised the Khashoggi m*rder case with the Crown Prince, Scholz said Saturday: “We talked about all the issues that pertain to civil rights and human rights. be said. “

The chair of the human rights committee of the German parliament, Renata Alt of the Free Democratic Party, called on Scholz to explicitly address human rights issues during his visit to Saudi Arabia, as well as to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

“As important as securing energy supplies to Germany, it is just as important to respect human rights around the world. You can’t negotiate one without taking care of the other ” He said.

Before traveling to the Persian Gulf, a high-ranking German official argued that it was important to strike a balance between the interests of business and energy security on the one hand and human rights concerns on the other.

“It’s a situation you always have in international relations,” said the official. “You have to think about: what are the interests of our country, what are the interests of Europe, what is the role of Saudi Arabia in this strategic neighboring region? The prospect of a crown prince leading the kingdom’s fortunes over the next 10, 20, 30 years suggests that we need a solid working relationship where differences can and must be discussed, but in which we also highlight the fact that there are a number of partnership approaches between Germany and the kingdom, ”said the official. He said.

“We are not sitting here in a world court over third countries,” the official continued, stressing that Germany and other Western countries would also talk to Saudi Arabia in the G20 format “without any concessions on our explicit condemnation and classification of the master. Khashoggi’s m*rder… these things exist in parallel; that’s the reality. “

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