Trying to be consistent, we are proud to present our third consecutive monthly press update on Germany-Iran relations. Who knows, this could become a habit.
Bottom line: multiple efforts promoting German business ties with Iran continue to abound, despite sanctions. The most prominent of such activities: a high-level “energy conference” co-organized earlier this month by the Munich Security Conference (MSC) and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Forum (FAZ) – and held under the auspices of Germany’s Federal Environment Minister and its Federal Minister of Economics and Technology.
Amazingly, featured speakers included Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Rostam Ghasemi – a sanctioned, former IRGC general.
According to figures from the Tehran-based German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce – a body funded in part by the German Federal Ministry of Economics – German firms supplied Iran with goods totaling 2.5 billion euros in direct trade alone during 2012. In this context, an investigative report aired last week by Germany’s public broadcasting channel ARD, pointed out that such figures do not include the extensive bilateral trade being conducted via “alternative” routes, often through Turkey.
Perhaps inebriated by a sense of success, Daniel Beck, the Farsi-speaking CEO of the Tehran chamber of commerce, was recently seen encouraging bilateral economic ties at a trade-promotion event in the city of Reutlingen – where he also championed Iran’s newly-elected president, Hassan Rouhani.
Finally, this week Berlin’s new ambassador to Tehran, Michael Freiherr von Ungern-Sternberg, submitted his credentials. The new ambassador, previously responsible for the sanctions issue in his Foreign Ministry, reportedly has already called for increased bilateral trade.
We have no doubt about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s commitment to sanctions and preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. But ongoing media coverage indicates that her troops don’t necessarily want to follow her into battle.