The ties between Romania and Germany are close and have a very rich tradition. The 20th of February 1880 is a significant date for the long history of the Romanian-German relations, as it marks the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries subsequent to the recognition, on the same date, by Germany, Great Britain and France of the independent Romanian state.
However, the history of the Romanian-German relations reaches further back into the 12th century, with the first settlement in Transylvania by Germans. These people, subsequently known as Transylvanian Saxons (saşi transilvăneni or Siebenbürger Sachsen), witness more than 800 years of common history. They are to the present day a valuable and highly regarded component of the socio-economic life of Romania and an important link between our two countries and cultures, contributing to a better mutual understanding and the building of bridges between us. The very fact that a representative of the German ethnic minority, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, has newly been elected as President of Romania is highly symbolic to this respect.
The tormented history of the 20th Century and the division of our continent has had its impact on the Romanian-German relations as well. However, the image of the Germans stayed positive. The century-long positive imprint of German culture to the development of modern Romania, in terms of education, political and institutional organization or economy is widely recognized by the majority population. The very symbol of this was King Charles I of Romania (Carol I al României), from the German Hohenzollern dynasty, who is associated by Romanians with the most successful chapter of modern Romanian history. After the Second World War, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany was only possible in 1967, Romania being the first of the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe to restore its ties with Germany.
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification, the Treaty between Romania and the Federal Republic of Germany on Friendly Cooperation and Partnership in Europe, signed in 1992, set the fundament for further development of our cooperation with the aim of building a peaceful, democratic and prosper Europe. Germany´s engagement to the reunification of Europe and its constant support and assistance to Romania´s accession to NATO and EU in 2004 and 2007 respectively is greatly appreciated in Bucharest and represents the basis for our close cooperation as full members of these organizations. Our countries cooperate intensively in the framework of multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.
Having served as ambassador of Romania to the Federal Republic of Germany for almost six years, I am more than delighted to point to the remarkable development of the relationship between our countries, which I would characterize as excellent. The dynamics of the bilateral cooperation is demonstrated by the regular mutual visits by high-rank officials on governmental as well as parliamentary level, and the level of the Länder. Let me only mention the visit of the German Chancellor to Romania in 2010, the visits of the Romanian President and of the Romanian Prime-Minister to Germany in 2011 and 2013. Currently, we are very much looking forward to the first visit to Germany of the new President of Romania already this month, to be followed in March by the visit to Romania of the federal Minister of Foreign Affairs.
With regard to the economic ties, Germany is by far Romania’s top trading partner and ranks third in foreign direct investment, with investments worth over 7 billion Euros by 2014. In 2013, trade between Germany and Romania was worth 19.5 billion Euros, and a further increase, of about 8-9%, in the volume of bilateral trade is expected in 2014. The more than 20.000 German-Romanian joint-ventures have created over 300.000 jobs in Romania. This development is strongly supported by our governments and by various national and bilateral trade and business associations. In this respect I would only like to highlight the role of the German-Romanian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Bucharest.
Cultural ties between our countries are strong and have, as mentioned before, a long tradition. Surely, this was facilitated by the German minority in Romania and its constructive interaction with the Romanian majority population. Moreover, leading Romanian intellectuals have since the 19th century been influenced by German literature and philosophy, have studied in the German speaking countries and maintained close links to Germany and the Germans.
The Germans born or with origins in Romania as well as the Romanians living in Germany have also greatly contributed and continue to do so to the steady strengthening of Romanian-German relations. It is worth mentioning that they brought forth numerous personalities, highly regarded not only in our two countries, but worldwide. This is the case of the latest German Nobel-Prize winners Herta Müller (Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009) and Stefan Hell (Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2014), who originate from the community of Banat Swabians (Banater Schwaben). Both were born in Romania .
In the area of education, I am delighted to observe that numerous Romanian students are enrolled at German universities. Their professional formation in Germany and the numerous research projects conducted in partnership with scientific centers back home contribute to a significant know-how transfer to Romania. There is a will to further develop the cooperation in this area, and, in this respect, the existence of study programs in German language at Romanian universities is certainly an additional stimulus. Moreover, with the help of German partners, the dual education system, one of the keys of to the German economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder), is gradually introduced in Romania schooling practice and received with great interest by the business and apprentice communities alike.
Our strong partnership within the EU and NATO, our excellent bilateral relations as well as our shared commitment to promoting freedom, human rights, rule of law, peace and democracy on our continent are strong ingredients to further strengthening Romanian-German cooperation. 25 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of our Continent, it is worth working together to promote our common values and vision on the future of Europe within our own societies and in the world, to the benefit of the peoples of our countries.
*Mr. Lazar Comanescu has served as Romania’s Ambassador in Berlin for six years from May 2009 until February 2015. Since February 16 he is adviser to President Klaus Iohannis on foreign policy issues.