BERLIN – Iran's Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance Dr. Mohammad Reza Farzin is slated to be the keynote speaker at a Wednesday forum organized by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).
Farzin's address was scheduled despite official protests by Israel
and Opposition groups in Iran.
Farzin is one of the top Iranian officials to visit Germany over the past two years, which have been marked by growing financial sanctions on the Islamic Republic, imposed by the West over its refusal to suspend its nuclear work.
Diplomatic sources told Ynet that the matter of the visit was discussed in a recent meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and his German counterparts.
Berlin's Foreign Ministry had promised to cancel all of the official meetings scheduled for the Iranian minister, but a foreign office spokesman said that "no official meeting was planned, so there was no official meeting to cancel."
"The visit was orchestrated by a private institution and has nothing to do with officials on the German government," he said. Nevertheless, he added, German parliamentarians were "free to meet with whomever they choose."
Israel and the Iranian opposition are irked by the visit because the DGAP receives some of its funding from the German Foreign Ministry.
On Tuesday, Farzin met with Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the Bundestag's foreign committee and a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling party, the CDU/CSU. A statement released after the meeting said the two discussed human and civil rights in Iran.
Israeli sources said that it is likely that Farzin's true intentions in the visit were to convince Germany to oppose a bid to have the Central Bank of Iran blacklisted by the West.
The Iranian deputy minister was invited to address the conference by DGAP President and former German Ambassador to Tehran Paul von Maltzahn.
A DGAP spokesperson said that the institute "was not pressured to cancel the visit… In any case the DGAP is free to choose its speakers."
The "Stop the Bomb" coalition, which is an umbrella group representing Jewish, pro-Israeli and Iranian Opposition groups, said it would protest outside the DGAP hall during the speech.