Ehud Olmert visited Berlin this week, and the Jerusalem Post used the occasion to publish an analysis on a key source of tension between Germany and Israel: the former’s economic relations with Iran. The Post quoted a World Politics Review piece by John Rosenthal at length in its analysis:
. . . Olmert’s visit, and the pressing threat of a nuclear-armed Teheran, exposed the fault lines in German-Israel relations. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is Germany’s solid economic relationship with the mullahs.
Perhaps in an effort to blunt the damage caused by Germany’s technological and material support for the Islamic Republic’s economy, Olmert’s visit coincided with the release of figures by Deputy Economics Minister Walter Otremba showing both a drop in German export credit guarantees supporting trade with Iran and a shrinkage of German exports to Iran.
But journalist John Rosenthal, who has written extensively on Germany for the World Politics Review Web publication, questions the accuracy of the statistics provided by the German Federal Trade Agency asserting that the exports declined by 15 percent to roughly €3.5 billion for the first 10 months of 2007.
The “figures are said to be based on statistical data running only through October. This makes the claim for a 15% percent drop in exports appear highly dubious… If the reported volume of German exports for the first 10 months of 2007 is extrapolated over a full year, the resulting figure (€4.2b.) would in fact represent an increase of Germany exports as compared to 2006,” Rosenthal wrote.
Iran is the hot-button issue of German foreign policy, and the open secret that Germany is supporting the Iranian economy is presenting a host of problems for Olmert. Just last week, German energy company RWE announced it had become the sixth partner in the Nabucco consortium. Nabucco is a pipeline project that will transfer gas from the Caspian region to Europe. Austrian oil giant OMV is the principal partner in Nabucco and has negotiated a €22b. deal with the Islamic Republic, the largest oil and gas deal in the history of the European Union