Last updated in October 2013
Germany supports Armenia in its efforts to move closer to the EU and NATO. The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met with Federal Chancellor Merkel in Berlin in June 2010. Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle meet regularly, most recently on 31 October 2013 in Berlin. During his trip to the Southern Caucasus, Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited Armenia on 16 March 2012, meeting with his opposite number as well as Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and representatives of the opposition and non-governmental organisations.
German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert visited Armenia in March 2013. German Bundestag delegations travel regularly to Armenia, the most recent visit being that by the Bundestag’s Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the States of the Southern Caucasus.
Since February 2010, an Armenian infantry platoon has been helping to secure the airport at Kunduz in Afghanistan as part of the German ISAF contingent. Since July 2011, Armenia has stepped up its ISAF engagement with two additional platoons deployed to the German-led Regional Command North in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of troops it has committed to around 130.
As a member of the OSCE Minsk Group, Germany supports the 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 through a reconciliation project implemented by the German Adult Education Association.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Germany is Armenia’s principal trading partner in the EU, but economic relations between the two countries remain relatively modest in absolute figures. In 2012, German trade with Armenia declined slightly, to approximately EUR 234 million. Germany’s principal exports to Armenia were motor vehicles, machinery, chemicals and electrical goods and its main imports from Armenia were 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 November 2012, Germany pledged as much as EUR 112.75 million in Financial Cooperation as well as up to EUR 33.75 million for Technical Cooperation projects. Since 2010, German development cooperation with the Southern Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) is conducted purely 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, 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.
In 2012, the micro-projects focused on providing assistance to kindergartens, orphanages, homes for people with disabilities, and health care facilities.
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 25 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 sector are close. The Armenian Education and Science Minister visits Germany every year. There is a lively exchange between schools in Saxony-Anhalt and Armenia, with seven school partnerships currently in place. Saxony-Anhalt’s State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology is now conducting three projects in Armenia. Saxony-Anhalt’s Minister of Culture visited Armenia in September 2012.