Calls for US envoy expulsion
“What this man is doing is unique in the history of diplomacy,” former leader of the Social Democrat Party (SPD), Martin Schulz, told DPA.
Instead of trying to appear neutral, Grennell was acting like a political activist, Schulz argued.
“If the German ambassador in Washington would say that he is there to strengthen the Democrats, he would be expelled straight away,” Schulz said.
Grenell told far-right Breitbart website that he wanted to “strengthen other conservative movements in the whole of Europe”.
“There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on,” adding that it came from the “failed policies of the left”.
He invited the youthful Austrian conservative chancellor Sebastian Kurz to dinner this month after he formed a coalition with the extreme-right Freedom party and has been a vocal critic of the German refugee policy.
He purportedly told Breitbart that Kurz was “a rock star” and he was “a big fan”.
German politicians saw the invite as an attempt to interfere in European politics.
“I hope that the Kurz visit will lead to Mr Grenell only surviving for a short time in the role of ambassador to Germany,” the former left-wing leader said.
Sahra Wagenknecht, leader of the Die Linke (the Left) party, also called for Grenell to be expelled.
“Whoever decides like US ambassador Grenell has done, that they can rule like a laird over Europe, can no longer remain ambassador to Germany,” she was quoted saying by Die Welt.
“If the government is serious about the sovereignty of our country they shouldn’t be inviting him to coffee but expelling him.”
Germany’s foreign ministry, which is due to host the ambassador this week, said it would expect the news story to be explained.
Spokesman Christofer Burger said Grenell’s inaugural visit would provide an opportunity to “explain how he wants his statements to be understood”.
The openly gay, conservative Grenell sparked outrage on his first day in the job, when he ordered German businesses, like Volkswagen, to stop doing business with Iran.
The auto giant has resumed car exports to Iran for the first time in 17 years but Grenell let loose with the outrageous tweet: “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”
The tweet added weight to calls from figures across Europe that the continent should stop being economically bullied by Washington.
Richard Grenell in 2004 under George W Bush. Picture credit: Wikimedia