BERLIN (AA) – German-Iranian ties have had their ups and downs, with a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program largely dominating bilateral relations for the past eight years.
However, there were also other problems — among them Western concern over Iran’s human rights situation and Tehran’s role in countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
A major stumbling block in improving relations between Tehran and Berlin has always been Iran’s open threats against Israel, which is Germany’s closest ally in the Middle East.
That notwithstanding, Germany is also Iran’s largest economic partner in the European Union.
German-Iranian trade ties up despite worsening bilateral relations
Interestingly, German-Iranian trade ties have improved since the election of hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
According to the German-Iranian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the trade volume between the two countries stood at €787.1 million in the first five months of the current year alone, up by 7% compared to the same period of the previous year.
At the same time bilateral diplomatic relations deteriorated as Berlin is spearheading a much tougher EU stance on Tehran because of a security crackdown on anti-revolution activists.
Iran has been the scene of nationwide protests since the death of Mahsa Amini who died in police custody on September 16 after allegedly having been mistreated. She had been arrested for violating the country’s prescribed dress code for women.
On November 14, the EU decided to impose sanctions against leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). One of the biggest supporters in the run-up was German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who criticized Iran very severely.
Scholz welcomed the EU’s decision by saying, “We want to further increase the pressure on the political leadership.
“The Iranian government is solely responsible for the explosion of violence,” said the chancellor in his weekly video message.
“What kind of government are you that shoots at its own citizens? Anyone who acts like this must count on our resistance,” he said.
Germany is demanding an “immediate end to the violence” and the release of political prisoners and imprisoned journalists, said the chancellor.
“But I say to the demonstrators and the citizens with Iranian roots here: We stand for everything you demand: for human rights and women’s rights. We stand with the Iranian people,” he said.
Iranian exile community steps up pressure on Scholz for tougher stance
The influential Iranian diaspora in Germany has stepped up its political campaign to push the government to adopt a tougher stance towards the Iranian government.
Tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets of Germany over the past eight weeks to call for stronger EU support of the protest movement inside Iran.
They strongly criticized German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock for not doing enough to halt the Iranian government’s suppression of peaceful protests.