Werner Hans Lauk, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bucharest: 25 years of diversified cooperation between societies

Both our countries, Romania and Germany, have seen important democratic and economic progress over the last 25 years. The years 1989 and 1990 were important landmarks in both countries when it comes to democratization and the free market economy. The end of communism in Eastern Germany and in Romania in 1989 paved the way for much more diversified relations between our two countries.
Today, these relations are not only relations between states and governments, but between societies – and let us not forget, only since 1989 can there be all sorts of personal contacts between the citizens of Romania and Germany. Free communication and free movement of people between our two countries has been an achievement of the last 25 years, a period which has seen the democratization both of Romania and of Eastern Germany.
The most visible signs of the close relations that exist between our societies today are twinned cities and twinning associations. This year, a number of local associations in Germany are celebrating 25 years of „Rumänien-Hilfe“ (“Support for Romania”). In 1990, only weeks and months after the fall of communism in Romania, a considerable number of local initiatives in Germany were born. Ordinary German citizens, some of them with origins in Romania, but the majority driven only by their wish to help a country in transition, decided to organize aid convoys to Romania. After weeks of collecting sanitary equipment, clothes, food and toys in their German neighborhoods, the initiators of those aid convoys set out for Romania. They brought the relief supplies mostly to rural communities in Romania. A visible number of those initiatives are still active today, to support disadvantaged groups in society. Some of those initiatives have even developed into city twinning arrangements, with a wide range of cooperation projects in the cultural field, in sports, and youth exchange programs.
25 years ago we also saw the foundation of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania, which has developed into an important forum for cultural activities, the maintenance and support of education in the German language in Romania, and for the dialogue in politics, education, culture and business at the national and the local level. For the relations between Germany and Romania, the German minority is an important bridge between our societies. When he visited Romania in March 2015, German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank Walter Steinmeier emphasized the contribution the German minority has made and continues to make to cultural and political life in Romania: “Here in Romania exists a self-confident minority, rooted in its own culture, which gets involved with the country it lives in and where it is at home.”
Talking about bridges between our societies, I can’t go without mentioning the important role German companies have played in our bilateral relations over the last 25 years. I am not only talking about the sheer figures of our bilateral trade relations, but also about the involvement of German companies as good corporate citizens in the municipalities and counties where they are located. German companies are organized within the German-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and within eight regional economic clubs all over Romania. They have not only created hundreds of thousands of jobs in Romania, but have also invested in long-term projects like the reactivation of the dual professional education system in Romania. In addition, they contribute to cultural life in Romania, for example by sponsoring cultural events and even organizing their own events, such as the famous “ Oktoberfest Brasov”, an initiative of the “Clubul Economic German” in Brasov or the “Autumn Festival of German Business” in Cluj, organized by the “Clubul Oamenilor de Afaceri de Limba Germana din Transilvania de Nord”.
All the above-mentioned activities play an important role to let Germany and Romania not only be bilateral partners in intergovernmental structures like the EU, NATO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe or in international structures like the Danube Strategy, the Black Sea Synergy or fora like the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity. 25 years after the fall of communism, we can be proud of the high level of diversified cooperation between the societies of our two countries, Romania and Germany.

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