Last updated in June 2017
Diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Iran were established in 1952, and the Iranian legation opened in Germany that same year. In addition to economic ties, the two countries developed particularly close relations in the education sector. The numerous German vocational schools in Iran came to be regarded as valued educational partners. Still today, the reputation of these former schools 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 and since 2003 have been shaped by worries about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear programme. The Vienna nuclear agreement of 14 July 2015 between the E3/EU+3 countries and Iran brought about a settlement of the nuclear dispute (for more information on the Iranian nuclear dossier, follow the link in the right-hand column). This has opened an opportunity for closer bilateral relations and for regular political consultations, including on regional issues. The German Government continues to follow the human rights situation in Iran with concern.
Economic relations between Germany and Iran have traditionally been close. Some 30 percent of Iran’s industrial infrastructure was produced in Germany. As a result of the international sanctions imposed on account of Iran’s nuclear programme, trade relations declined from 2007 and only began to pick up again in 2014. In 2015, bilateral trade was valued at 2.4 billion euros. The sharp rise in German exports is mainly due to higher exports of machinery, mechanical equipment and motor vehicles. German companies regained access to export credit guarantees, known as Hermes insurance, in June 2016. Following the lifting of European Union economic and financial sanctions on 16 January 2016, German business associations are optimistic about the prospects of bilateral trade continuing to grow.
In 2016, trade between Germany and Iran increased 22 percent over the previous year to approx. 2.9 billion euros. German exports to Iran were worth 2.6 billion euros (a year-on-year increase of 26 percent), putting Iran in 50th place among Germany’s export destinations. German imports from Iran were valued at 314 million euros (a year-on-year decrease of 6 percent), giving Iran a ranking of 84th among countries of origin.
Both countries have a keen interest in cultural exchange. This applies in particular to bilateral scientific and academic relations. A whole generation of Iranian scientists and academics were trained at German universities, and today many alumni support joint German-Iranian research projects and a strengthening of bilateral cooperation in higher education. In 2014, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) opened its new office in Tehran. There are three DAAD lectors working in the country. The number of Iranian students, postgraduates and researchers receiving DAAD funding grows each year.
Other German institutions active in Tehran are the German Embassy’s Deutsches Sprachinstitut Teheran (DSIT), the German Embassy School Tehran (DBST), the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and an Evangelical congregation led by a German married pastor couple. In addition to the promotion of scientific and academic relations, German as a foreign language is another focus of bilateral cultural relations. In 2016, total enrolment in DSIT’s language courses (across all levels) was more than 10,000, and more than 10,000 learners of German also sat the Goethe-Institut’s central exams. In addition, the DSIT offers further-education courses for Iranian teachers of German and is training a new generation of teachers.
The German Embassy is promoting the learning of German at school level by currently providing special support to seven Iranian schools that offer German. In this connection, an annual national German Language Olympics has been held in Iran since April 2014.