Islamic Republic of Iran
Last updated in September 2013
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 USA, Russia and China to resolve this conflict (for further information on the nuclear dossier, follow link in column at right). 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.
In the first half-year of 2013, German exports to Iran declined by 33 per cent compared with the previous year, German imports from Iran falling by 26 per cent. In 2012, bilateral trade was worth EUR 2.8 billion, a drop of 27 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 a resolution was adopted to extend these sanctions 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.
|Exports to Iran||Imports from Iran|
|2007||EUR 3.604 billion (-12.3 per cent)||EUR 583 million (+42.2 per cent)|
|2008||EUR 3.924 billion (+8.9 per cent)||EUR 593 million (+1.7 per cent)|
|2009||EUR 3.714 billion (-5.3 per cent)||EUR 537 million (-9.4 per cent)|
|2010||EUR 3.804 billion (+2.4 per cent)||EUR 916 million (+70.6 per cent)|
|2011||EUR 3.087 billion (-18.5 per cent)||EUR 712 million (-16.5 per cent)|
|2012||EUR 2.528 billion (-18.0 per cent)||EUR 313 million (-56.3 per cent)|
|EUR 1.04 billion (-24 per cent)||EUR 157 million (-26 per cent)|
Germany is represented in Tehran by 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’s presence in the country is currently being checked. The German Embassy’s Cultural Section has temporarily assumed the job of student counselling.
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 2012, approximately 6,100 students enrolled at all levels in the language courses offered by the German Language Institute in Tehran. 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.
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 2013.