Last updated in October 2015
Germany supports Armenia in its efforts to move closer to the EU (as part of the Eastern Partnership) and NATO. The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met with Federal Chancellor Merkel most recently in June 2010 in Berlin. In 2015, there were two bilateral meetings on the sidelines of multilateral summits in Brussels und Riga. Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian travels to Germany regularly for talks, meeting most recently with Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier on 17 June 2014. Nalbandian attended the Munich Security Conference in February 2015. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Armenia on 23 October 2014.
As a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, Germany supports the Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ efforts to negotiate in the Nagorno-Karabach conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, calling for de-escalation and urging both sides to show greater willingness to compromise. Germany is encouraging Armenia and Turkey to continue the process of rapprochement, which began in 2009 but is now faltering. Germany supports this process at civil-society level by funding cross-border reconciliation projects.
Germany is Armenia’s principal trading partner in the European Union. Germany ranks third worldwide among suppliers of Armenian imports, after Russia and China. As a buyer of Armenian exports, it occupies second place, after China and ahead of Russia. Bilateral trade between Germany and Armenia remains modest in absolute figures. In the first half of 2015, Armenian exports to Germany stood at USD 72 million, an 8 per cent decline compared the same period the previous year. German exports to Armenia were worth USD 137 million, a 33 per cent slump compared the same period the previous year. This decline roughly reflects the overall trend in Armenia’s foreign trade. Germany’s principal exports to Armenia are motor vehicles, machinery, chemicals products and electrical goods. Its main imports from Armenia are iron, steel, copper, molybdenum and other metals as well as textiles.
In development cooperation, Germany is Armenia’s second most important bilateral donor, after the United States. At the intergovernmental negotiations on development cooperation held in September 2014, Germany pledged as much as EUR 109.8 million in Financial Cooperation. In addition, in 2014 new funding was made available for regional projects in which Armenia is involved. For these projects, a total of up to EUR 21 million is being provided under Technical Cooperation and as much as EUR 2 million in Financial Cooperation.
Since 2010, official German development cooperation with the Southern Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) has been conducted exclusively through regional programmes under the Federal Government’s Caucasus Initiative. Priority areas of the Caucasus Initiative are sustainable economic development, energy, the environment, developing democracy and the rule of law and strengthening local administration.
Ongoing German development cooperation projects with Armenia therefore focus on promoting small and medium-sized companies, developing and reforming Armenia’s financial sector, improving energy efficiency, promoting renewable energy and regional power exchange, the sustainable management of natural resources and the establishment of nature conservation areas. Efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law focus on creating a functioning independent judiciary by providing expert advice on legislation, jurisprudence and application of the law. Other goals are developing democracy at local level and administrative decentralisation, more efficient public finance management and promoting civil-society participation in political decision-making processes. In addition, there are projects aimed at modernising water, sanitation and waste-management infrastructure.
The micro-projects supported by the German Embassy in Yerevan focus on providing assistance to kindergartens and promoting the participation of people with disabilities in society, as well as further-education and rehabilitation measures in the medical sector.
Culture and education
Armenians mainly derive their sense of identity from their ancient and history-steeped culture. Culture is therefore an important factor in bilateral relations. The main goal of Germany’s cultural and education policy in Armenia is to promote German as a foreign language at both school and university level.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) have their own German staff working in Armenia. The language learning centre in Yerevan, which commenced operation in early 2012, also includes a German Reading Room and the office of a Goethe Institute Expert Consultant for Teaching German. Literary, musical and other events, which are organised in cooperation with the Tbilisi/Georgia-based Goethe Institute that serves Armenia and the German Embassy in Yerevan, are designed to convey a modern and realistic picture of Germany and intensify contacts between those active in the cultural sector on both sides.
There are 26 partnerships between German and Armenian higher education institutions, in particular long-standing ties with the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, where the MESROP Centre for Armenian Studies was established in 1998.
Contacts and exchange between the two countries in the cultural and education sectors are close. Armenia is a member country of the Bologna Process and hosted the Bologna Process Ministerial Conference in Yerevan in May 2015. The federal state of Saxony-Anhalt has maintained a cultural and education partnership with Armenia since 1998. There is a lively exchange between the two sides, with seven school partnerships currently in place as well as exhibition projects and work stipends for artists. Saxony-Anhalt’s State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology is conducting projects in Armenia.