Ambassador to Iran Herbert Honsowitz violated EU guidelines by allowing a military attaché to attend an anti-Israel military parade in Teheran late last month, according to a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry’s Iran section.
“Israel must be wiped off the map” was one of the slogans painted on Shihab-3 missiles featured at the event in Teheran, which commemorated the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.
The presence of a German defense attaché at the military parade was a source of enormous embarrassment for the ministry in Berlin.
In uncharacteristically strong language and disciplinary action, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier ordered Honsowitz to return to Berlin on September 29.
In an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post, Jens Plötner, Foreign Ministry spokesman, wrote, “Foreign Minister Steinmeier was very annoyed that the military attaché of the German Embassy participated in the military parade in Teheran. The German ambassador was immediately called back to Berlin for consultations.”
A ministry spokeswoman, who wished to remain unnamed, told the Post that the European Union reached a consensus three years ago not to attend the annual military parade, adding that “well-know anti-Israeli and anti-American slogans” were displayed at the event.
“Down with Israel,” “Down with USA” and “We will crush American under our feet” were some of the rallying cries at this year’s version.
The attaché attended the event, according to the spokeswoman, to secure information on Iran’s military technology.
“Unacceptable and strange behavior” is how the spokeswoman described the attaché’s presence at the parade, noting that the diplomat could have observed the military hardware on television.
Western journalists reported that the Shihab-3 missile on display has a target range of 1,300 km., putting Israel within range.
The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Honsowitz had a “series of talks” over the last two weeks with State Secretary Reinhard Silberberg and the Human Resources Division concerning his decision to permit the attaché to attend the show of Iran’s military strength.
When asked whether Honsowitz’s energetic support for bolstering German-Iranian trade at the expense of Israel’s national security was a topic of talks between Silberberg and Honsowitz, Plötner wrote in an e-mail to the Post that “the Foreign Office does not give information on the content of internal discussions between chiefs and subordinates.”
Honsowitz, who has served as ambassador in Teheran since 2006 and is considered “Iran-friendly,” has now left Berlin to return to his post.
The military attaché is no longer based in Teheran and completed his three-year term in late September, according to the spokeswoman.
Reached in Teheran, Jan Kluck, a spokesman for the German Embassy, declined to comment on the parade issue.
Honsowitz’s ambassadorship began in 2006 and runs until 2009. He served in the embassy in Tel Aviv between 1980 and 1983 and was responsible for arranging meetings for German MPs and ministers as well as reporting on the political situation in Israel, according to the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
He is set to retire from the diplomatic corps next summer.
In April, the Post reported on Honsowitz’s presence at an Iranian oil show and the embassy’s role in facilitating an expansion of German engineering firms’ business with the Iranian regime.
Honsowitz told Iranian Press TV last November that the “German Embassy is trying to take measures toward maintaining and improving economic ties between the private sectors of the two countries.”
Israeli officials view Germany as severely undercutting France and Britain’s effort to economically isolate Iran because of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
According to German and Iranian-exile critics, Steinmeier has shown great leniency toward the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic policies of the Islamic Republic.
While the Social Democratic Party head Steinmeier has recently changed his rhetoric, for example blasting the “blatant anti-Semitism” of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s September 23 speech to the UN General Assembly, he and his Social Democrats, a partner in the coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel, refuse to enact legislation banning trade with Iran.
Many Israeli government officials view an end to German-Iranian economic relations as the litmus test on combating Iranian anti-Semitism and ensuring Israel’s security.
Nasrin Amirsedghi, an intellectual who fled the Islamic Republic and lives in Germany, told the Post “the main responsibility for the future lies in the hands of Europe, and particularly with the German government. Back then [in 1945] Germany and the Jews were finally liberated from Hitler’s barbaric tyranny with the help of the Allies. Today, it is Germany’s duty to take this threat [Iran] seriously and take action. Anyone who does not recognize this danger should not be surprised when Iranian atom bombs are flying everywhere.”