German-Iranian relations, German patriots, and German LGBT textbooks for children
Iran will be freed from almost all economic and financial sanctions under the agreement with major world powers in Lausanne. This opens up a new positive outlook for German-Iranian relations. Traditionally, relations between Berlin and Tehran have been very close, but with the Western sanctions and embargo policy against the Islamic Republic of Iran, the relationship had cooled, although German business and trade associations are hopeful now that a relaxation of economic sanctions is expected. “The agreement is valued by the German economy as an encouraging sign,” said the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). “If by July 1 of this year the objective of broad agreement can be reached and the economic sanctions are lifted, doing business with Iran could gain momentum in the second half of the year,” said DIHK foreign trade expert Felix Neugart. According to the federal government, grain, pharmaceutical products and equipment exports have contributed to the recent strong growth. German technology in the areas of infrastructure, automotive and mechanical engineering, and energy were especially in demand in Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran is in turn a trading partner of interest for Germany due to its oil and gas reserves. In 1885, Iran opened its first diplomatic mission in Berlin and the relations between Iran and Germany were so close that the first German school was opened in Tehran in 1906.
The party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) is shaken by internal disputes. In March, the regional party convention of Thuringia adopted the “Erfurt Resolution,” in which the course of the federal party was criticized. The Thuringian AfD complained that the federal AfD is moving closer and closer to the established parties. The signatories see the party as a “fundamental, patriotic and democratic alternative” against “gender mainstreaming,” “multiculturalism,” and a “hollowing out of Germany´s sovereignty,” and for the “courage to truly speak freely.” The dissatisfaction with the course of the party was noticeable in all regional associations (especially in the East). “We wanted to remind them what they had started as,” said Thuringian AfD state chairman, Björn Höcke. Shortly after the adoption of the “Erfurt Resolution,” the liberal-transatlanticist wing of the party complained to Hans-Olaf Henkel, a Member of the European Parliament. Henkel, the former advisor to the “Bank of America," called the “Erfurt resolution” a “grotesque attempt to divide the AfD” and warned against anti-Americanism.
According to a survey by ARD-Deutschland TREND, the vast majority of Germans (75 percent) are satisfied or very satisfied with the performance of Pope Francis. 10 percent are less or not at all satisfied. Compared to his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, Francis fares much better. Only 52 percent of Germans were satisfied with Pope Benedict XVI’s work according to a 2013 survey. This result has nothing to do with differences in administration, but rather with media coverage. Pope Benedict XVI in particular was exposed to constant criticism from the German mainstream media, while Pope Francis remains spared thus far.
Family and Bioethics
In a dispute over the new curriculum of “Sexual Diversity,” Baden-Württemberg´s Minister of Culture, Andreas Stoch(SPD), has accused his opponents of “defamation” attempts. Critics of the education plan accused the Ministry of Education of weakening the traditional family through the propagation of the so-called LGBT lifestyle. Inititally the plan was to launch a new textbook which recommends introducing seven-year old students to the topics of sodomy and a modern form of brothels. This led to strong protests by parents and teachers. Stoch now claims it was never intended to introduce the controversial textbook.