Islamic Republic of Iran

Islamic Republic of Iran

Last updated in January 2015

Political relations

Diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Iran were established in 1952, the same year the Iranian legation was opened in Germany. Apart from the economic sector, close cooperation has developed in particular in education: the numerous German vocational schools in Iran came to be held in high regard as partners and their past reputation still contributes to Iran’s generally positive view of Germany.

Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, relations between the two countries were severely strained in some areas.

Since 2003, relations have been marred by worries about Iran’s nuclear programme. Germany is working together with the United Kingdom, France, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the United States, Russia and China (E3+3) to resolve this conflict (for further information on the nuclear dossier, follow link in column at right). On 24 November 2013, the E3+3 and Iran agreed on the Geneva Joint Plan of Action as a first step towards settling the dispute over Iran’s nuclear energy programme. Negotiations on a comprehensive agreement continue.

Under the government of President Ahmadinejad (2005-2013), relations were further strained by the radical anti-Israeli rhetoric of the Iranian leadership and the further deterioration in the human rights situation in Iran during his term in office. The Federal Government has repeatedly condemned these in the sharpest terms. The release of the human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and other political prisoners in September 2013, following President Rouhani’s assumption of office on 4 August 2013, was welcomed by the Federal Government.

Economic relations

In 2013, German exports to Iran declined by 27 per cent compared with the previous year, German imports from Iran falling by 21 per cent. In 2012, bilateral trade was worth EUR 2.12 billion, a drop of 26 per cent. The sharp decline in German exports to Iran is mainly attributed to the non-conclusion of business contracts as a result of the UN and EU sanctions imposed in December 2006. A further round of sanctions against Iran at UN and EU level were imposed in June and July 2010 and in April 2011 the EU sanctions were extended to include other persons and business companies. The EU decided to impose fresh sanctions of unprecedented scope in January 2012 and extended these yet again in October 2012.

Much of the trade conducted between 2008 and 2012 was based on contracts concluded in the preceding years. Since autumn 2007, German commercial banks based in Iran have not been accepting any new business. German companies are showing much more caution in their business dealings with Iran or are withdrawing from the Iranian market altogether.

Under the Geneva Joint Plan of Action, certain sanctions have been suspended.

Bilateral trade:

 Exports to IranImports from Iran
2007EUR 3.604 billion (-12.3 per cent)EUR 583 million (+42.2 per cent)
2008EUR 3.924 billion (+8.9 per cent)EUR 593 million (+1.7 per cent)
2009EUR 3.714 billion (-5.3 per cent)EUR 537 million (-9.4 per cent)
2010EUR 3.804 billion (+2.4 per cent)EUR 916 million (+70.6 per cent)
2011EUR 3.087 billion (-18.5 per cent)EUR 712 million (-16.5 per cent)
2012EUR 2.528 billion (-18.0 per cent)EUR 313 million (-56.3 per cent)
2013EUR 1.85 billion (-27 per cent)EUR 274 million (-21 per cent)

Cultural relations

German institutions active in Tehran are the German Embassy’s own German Language Institute, the German Embassy School Tehran, the German Archaeological Institute and a Protestant parish served by a German married couple acting as priests. The German Academic Exchange Service is currently re-establishing an office in Tehran.

Germany and Iran have a good tradition of scientific and academic cooperation. A whole generation of Iranian scientists and academics were trained at German institutions of higher education and today many alumni support German-Iranian research projects and promote university cooperation.

Besides the promotion of scientific and academic relations, German as a foreign language is another focus of bilateral cultural relations. In 2013, more than 6,000 students enrolled at all levels in the language courses offered by the German Language Institute Tehran (DSIT). Some 3,400 learners of German sat the Goethe Institute’s central examinations. In addition, the Institute offers Iranian teachers of German further-education courses and is training a new generation of teachers.

Under the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), the German Embassy promotes the learning of German at school level by providing special support to currently five Iranian schools that offer German. In this connection, the first national German Language Olympics were held in Iran on 10 April 2014.

The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) has a local office in Tehran. In October 2012, the DAI signed a new memorandum of understanding with the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research. Concrete projects are currently being discussed.

Since 2007, a German-Iranian project to rebuild the Sistani House in Bam, which was destroyed by an earthquake, has been funded by the Federal Foreign Office under its Cultural Preservation Programme. The project is headed by a team from the Technische Universität Dresden. The work is due to be completed in 2014.

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