Today, on 20 February 2015, the German-Romanian partnership completes 135 years of successful cooperation. And, as German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier put it in Berlin some time ago, relations between Germany and Romania are “not only good, but at best”.
The historical roots of the diplomatic relations between the two countries date back to 1880 and were first reflected in the coronation of Karl I from Germany as the first Romanian king in 1881. Certainly, we also look back on a dark history between the two countries and in the whole of Europe in the first half of the 20th century. A turning point was the end of Communism in 1989, offering new opportunities for cooperation in all domains. The relationship gradually became a well-established partnership. Milestones in the development of closer ties between Romania and Western Europe were the accession to NATO in 2004 and to the European Union in 2007. Germany was strongly in favour of the eastern enlargement of the EU, which would allow the deepening of the partnership with Romania.
During the last 135 years German-Romanian relations grew from a relationship between dynasties and governments to a linking network between societies. Therefore the two countries today have close and extensive ties that are based not only on the political dimension of bilateral contracts and a joint interest in a wide range of issues from economic and political cooperation – like a common commitment to support for Ukraine as well as the Republic of Moldova’s rapprochement with the EU and its successful implementation of its Association Agreement with the EU – to the extension of our intense cultural relations.
In addition, our two societies are also bonded by social relations, in particular on cultural and educational policy themes. These include cooperations between cities from Germany and Romania or, for example, a common project for climate protection of the Academy of Economic Studies and the German Embassy in Bucharest. The German language is of high importance in education and commerce in Romania. More than 70 study programmes in the German language are offered at Romanian universities. Further, there are a large number of minority schools with German as a language of tuition. Indeed, the intellectual exchange works both ways. Romania and Germany are both popular destinations regarding academic exchange for their respective students as well as researchers. These exchange programmes are supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, among others.
To strengthen the solid relationship, representative bodies work actively in the fields of culture, education and language. Examples are the Goethe-Institut, the Central Agency for German Schools Abroad (ZfA) as well as the Institute for Foreign Relations (IfA) operating in Romania, or the Romanian cultural institute in Berlin, which has presented exhibitions, concerts and lectures since 1999. Romanian newspapers in the German language, like the Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung (ADZ), contribute to the good bilateral comprehension.
The German minority in Romania also plays a key role for mutual understanding. Since 1989 the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (DFDR) and its regional forums have officially represented the interests of the minority. The German minority is a living cultural bridge between our two societies.
Furthermore, Germany is not only a top-ranked, but also the most significant, commercial partner of Romania. External trade with Germany amounted to 18.8 billion euros in 2013. This represents a share of nearly 20% of Romania’s total foreign trade. Furthermore, German investors have a substantial share of all foreign investments in Romania, accounting for more than 400,000 jobs. Moreover, the German-Romanian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) in Bucharest promotes bilateral economic relations and there are German Business Clubs in major Romanian cities.
A consolidated partnership between Germany and Romania has high priority with excellent prospects, because it is not limited to diplomatic relations, but goes far beyond this, thanks to strongly intertwined relations between the citizens of the two countries.