Germany’s Merkel Unexpectedly Banned from Iran Airspace Enroute to India
Der Spiegel reported that Merkel’s plane, which was also carrying a large delegation, was on a flight from Germany to India when it was informed at the last moment that Iran had revoked its permission for the aircraft to fly through Iranian airspace.
“There has never been an incident like this,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told Der Spiegel. Germany had previously been given permission to enter Iran’s airspace.
According to the newspaper, Merkel’s plane was forced to circle over Turkey for two hours while German diplomats negotiated with Tehran. The negotiations were mediated by Turkey and involved the German Foreign Ministry, but it is unknown what was discussed during the negotiations.
A second government aircraft which was carrying several members of Merkel’s cabinet, including Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, was able to fly over Iran without problems. That aircraft had left Berlin before Merkel’s plane.
In a statement, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the incident was “absolutely unacceptable,” adding that he had summoned the Iranian ambassador. “We shall make it very plain that such a breach of international conventions will in no way be tolerated by Germany,” he said.
It remains unclear why Iran temporarily revoked access for the German government plane, but the diplomatic incident comes just days after the European Union decided to strengthen restrictive measures previously imposed against Iran due to concerns over its nuclear program.
It was the first official trip aboard the government’s newly delivered Airbus A340-300 which had been purchased from Lufthansa and refitted for VIP use.