Gabriel in Iran: banking, education, Israel on agenda

Business Materials 3 October 2016 19:33 (UTC +04:00)

Tehran, Iran, Oct. 3

By Mehdi Sepahvand – Trend:

Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel is in Tehran to discuss a diverse range of issues.

Leading a big delegation, he told an Iranian-German trade conference that big companies such as Siemens and Volkswagen are in Tehran to seek new opportunities, Mehr news agency reported Oct. 3.

In particular, Gabriel said Germany is interested in launching education centers in Iran.

“There are a lot of educated people in your country. Sixty percent of your youth go to university. But a country does not need doctors and engineers only. It needs scientific expertise as well,” Gabriel said.

The German minister also announced that for the day the central banks of Iran and Germany were going to sign a cooperation agreement.

Cooperation in renewable energy, health, infrastructure, water management and environment were also underlined by Gabriel.

In part of his speech, the German vice chancellor hinted at political issues of mutual interest to Tehran and Berlin.

“We know there are different policies in Iran and Western Europe. But these can be discussed. Including, for example, that the role of religion is different in Iran than in Germany. Also there are disagreements over Syria.”

He then referred to different views of Tehran and Berlin vis-à-vis Israel and said, “I believe that the two countries’ good relations can allow us to discuss complicated issues.”

Before sanctions were intensified on Iran in the early 2010s, Germany was Iran’s major trade partner. Shortly after the sanctions were removed, Germany dispatched a large delegation to Iran in early May to revive the old days.

However, Uwe Beckmeyer, parliamentary state secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, who was leading the German delegation on behalf of Gabriel, said during his visit that Germany’s long-term economic cooperation with Iran rests upon the "precondition" that Iran recognizes and acts in a friendly way towards Israel.