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February 2, 2023

Uwe Koch, Cultural Attache at the German Embassy: Cultural relations between Romania and Germany

When I arrived in Bucharest last summer the cultural life of the town seemed to me not very exciting. But in a very short time I recognized, that you have just to go out and to start to discover the scene. There is a broad variety of museums, art galleries and music, reaching from classical music to jazz, from the “Green festival” to “Sonoro”.  I also learned very quickly that Romanians have traditionally felt a close affinity with German culture. Thanks to the German minority, there is a common cultural tradition which keeps alive interest in the German language and German culture in Romania.

So it seems quite natural that the official bilateral cultural relations focus on promoting the German language as well as science and higher education. In this connection, since February 2011 the German Embassy has been conducting a nationwide campaign in Romania entitled German – Language of Ideas. An agreement on cultural cooperation with Romania was signed in 1995 and an accord on school cooperation in 1996. In 2012, the German, Austrian and Swiss Embassies and the Romanian Ministry of National Education set up a joint commission to promote German-language teaching in Romania’s education system. The German minority in Romania is also represented on this commission.

The Goethe-Institut, the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations , the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (with more than 30 seconded teachers) and Germany’s political foundations all play an active role in Romania. The work of the Goethe-Institut is complemented by the activities of the German Cultural Centers in Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Brasov and Timisoara.

At the same time there are a constantly growing number of school and university partnerships. In 1999, Romania founded the cultural institute Titu Maiorescu in Berlin, which showcases Romanian culture through exhibitions, concerts and lectures.

Projects being conducted in Romania as part of German foreign cultural and education policy include theme-related alumni meetings, literary competitions, language course programs for senior ministerial officials, projects to promote the German language and cultural events such as film weeks and concerts.

The Goethe Institute in Bucharest and the five Goethe Centers present news from culture and society in Germany as well as new trends in  arts, music, architecture, literature, film, media, dance and theatre.

All these official activities provide a solid backbone for our bilateral cultural relations. But it still needs flesh to form a body and soul to vivify it. The numerous activities of scientists, artists ore just “ordinary” people and of civil society organizations form and breathe life into this body.

As important is the mutual curiosity, the interest in each other and an open minded view. Our perception, and our in this case means both of us -Romanians and Germans-, is still determined by old clichés and stereotypes. Instead of looking for these we should find out our common ground in our rich European culture, increase our mutual knowledge and find ways to benefit from each other.


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