Last updated in April 2016
German-Albanian relations are close and characterised by a spirit of partnership. Albania is a partner country of German development cooperation.
Diplomatic relations between Germany and Albania were established in 1986. They have become a great deal more lively since Albania launched its democratisation process in 1991.
It is in Germany’s interest to help promote stability, democracy and the rule of law in Albania and across the region by supporting the country’s transformation process.
Albania’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union, which was signed in 2006, gives the country a reliable European perspective. Germany supported Albania’s accession to NATO, which took place in 2009 at the NATO summit in Strasbourg and Kehl.
In December 2010, the visa liberalisation regime for travel to the Schengen Area took effect. It enables Albanian nationals in possession of a biometric passport to travel to the Schengen Area and stay there for up to three months without a visa being required.
The granting of EU candidate status to Albania in June 2014, a move supported by Germany, means that the country has taken a major step forward towards the goal of EU accession, which is firmly pursued by all the relevant political forces in Albania.
Germany is the sixth largest investor in Albania with annual direct investment in the lower double-digit million range.
The German-Albanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Albania (DIHA) was founded in 2007 (External link, opens in new windowwww.dih-al.com) and now has more than 90 members.
Germany engagement in Albania focuses on the banking sector, transport and logistics, the retail and mobile communications sectors, the textile industry, automobile trade and maintenance, the production and marketing of chemical and pharmaceutical products and the manufacture of cable harnesses. The biggest German direct investments are Tirana Airport and Telekom Albania. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines operate daily direct flights from Tirana to Frankfurt and Vienna, respectively. Prominent German companies have branches in the country or market their products via Albanian partners.
The German-Albanian investment protection agreement entered into force in 1995 and the bilateral double taxation agreement in 2012. Albania has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2000.
Albania’s foreign trade focuses on the EU, which accounts for 62 per cent of Albania’s imports and 75 per cent of its exports. Italy remained Albania’s principal trading partner within the EU in 2015, followed by Kosovo. In 2015, Germany ranked sixth among Albania’s trading partners in terms of exports (EUR 54.2 million) and fifth in terms of imports (EUR 260 million), behind Italy (EUR 1.2 billion), China (EUR 333 million), Turkey (EUR 313 million) and Greece (EUR 306 million).
In 2015, Albania’s main imports were machinery and spare parts (15.2 per cent), mineral fuels and mineral oils (10.4 per cent), and road vehicles (5.9 per cent). It exported textiles and shoes (36.1 per cent), mineral fuels and mineral oils (18.6 per cent) and iron and steel (7.8 per cent).
In 2015, Germany’s main exports to Albania were motor vehicles (93 per cent of them used) and vehicle parts and aircraft.
Since 1988, Germany has been helping Albania in the following sectors: water and energy supply, sanitation and solid waste management. In cooperation with the Albanian government, Germany is also promoting the development of a social and ecological market economy. Rural and agricultural enterprises receive assistance in the form of loans, subsidies, further training and consulting services. The construction of urgently needed vocational schools and the creation a functioning waste management sector are also being increasingly supported. Aggregate German funding provided since 1988 amounts to more than EUR 1 billion (including Germany’s contributions to the EU, the United Nations and the World Bank), making Germany one of Albania’s biggest and most important bilateral donors. A major cross-cutting issue is environmental and climate protection. All these projects are designed to move Albania closer to the EU.
Cultural relations between Germany and Albania are based on the new cultural agreement signed on 26 November 2015, which on the German side is currently being discussed with the Permanent Treaty Commission of the Länder.
In Albania, there is keen interest in cultural exchange with Germany. Every autumn since 2007, the German Embassy in Tirana and numerous partners have organised German Weeks in Albania, under the official name German October. These feature numerous events in Tirana and other cities. A list of past events can be found on the German Embassy’s website.
As part of the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), Germany supports 11 Albanian schools at which German is taught. There is a bilingual section at Sami Frasheri Grammar School in Tirana, where – besides German as a foreign language – mathematics and geography are also taught in German, in some cases by teachers seconded from Germany. Graduates in possession of the bilingual Albanian school-leaving certificate are directly entitled to study at a German university. It is hoped to draw up a new memorandum as the 2009 agreement is outdated.
Germany promotes scientific and academic exchange and supports the establishment of sound academic structures. A number of universities in Albania maintain contacts with German universities, which in some cases have led to student and faculty exchanges. Albanian students and academics also regularly participate in exchange programmes organised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In addition, the DAAD academic teacher at the DAAD Liaison Office in Tirana offers regular student counselling on questions relating to studies and grants. Information events on studying in Germany are also held regularly in Tirana.
Every year, a number of Albanian university graduates are given the opportunity to complete an International Parliamentary Internship in the German Bundestag, enabling them to gain acquaintance with political decision-making processes and acquire practical experience of parliamentary work.
Germany is also engaged in efforts to preserve and maintain Albania’s cultural heritage. For instance, it has provided support to the National Museum of Medieval Art in Korça with its important collection of icons, and to the famous Marubi Photo Archives in Shkodra. In 2012 and 2013, funding was provided under Germany’s Cultural Preservation Programme to restore a mosaic at the archaeological site of Antigonea. For around ten years, the German Archaeological Institute was also engaged in work at the Apollonia excavation site. A ceremony was held in early October 2015 to mark the conclusion of German-Albanian cooperation on the amphitheatre there.
The following German cultural intermediaries are active in Albania:
- The German Centre Tirana is an important player in German cultural and education cooperation with Albania. Headed by a seconded Goethe Institute staff member, it offers German courses at all levels as well as organising its own cultural events.
- Several teachers seconded by the Central Agency for Schools Abroad teach German at the PASCH schools – for example, in the bilingual section of Sami Frasheri Grammar School in Tirana.
- A DAAD lecturer and a DAAD foreign language assistant teach at the University of Tirana’s German Department, where they are seeking to promote German-Albanian relations in the academic sphere.