Scholz Departs Zelensky’s Peace Conference Early Due to Party Meeting

The German chancellor had to leave for an emergency meeting of his own party’s executive committee, Der Spiegel has reported

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not attend the second day of Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky’s Swiss ‘peace conference’, according to Der Spiegel. Scholz had to return to Berlin for an urgent meeting with his political party, the German weekly reported.

The chancellor is facing “difficult talks on the budget” with his coalition partners, according to Der Spiegel. The 2025 federal budget must be approved by early July, but Scholz’s government is still locked in a heated debate over the details, according to German media.

Germany has a €1 billion ($1.07 billion) shortfall in its draft budget and Finance Minister Christian Lindner wants to reduce spending – a move that other ministries are opposing, broadcaster ZDF reported on Sunday.

Germany’s industry-heavy economy has suffered over the past few years after the US and the EU imposed numerous economic restrictions on Russia, leading to the bloc largely losing access to cheap Russian fossil fuels. This sparked an energy crisis that has gripped the country since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

In February, the German central bank warned that the nation’s economy “would be in a technical recession” in the first quarter of this year. This week, Scholz also faced accusations of delaying new EU sanctions on Russia.

The German dpa news agency quoted unnamed EU diplomats as saying that Berlin’s stance was a key factor in delaying the adoption of the EU’s 14th round of sanctions against Moscow. The report prompted the chancellor to deny the accusations while still in Switzerland.

“[The sanctions] are not being blocked. We are discussing the specific design,” he told Welt TV on Saturday. “It’s about how we can ensure that the German economy can carry out its activities.” Earlier, the media reported that Scholz was allegedly concerned about the possibility of subsidiaries of EU companies being held liable for sanctions violations.

During the conference, the chancellor stated that the Ukraine conflict could not be resolved without Russia’s participation in talks. “It is true that peace in Ukraine cannot be achieved without… Russia,” he said.

The White House said that US Vice President Kamala Harris had also left the Swiss-hosted conference after only a few hours on Saturday, returning to Washington before the summit’s main working day began.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida were also reportedly among those to leave the event after only a few hours.