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Slovakia

Slovakia

Last updated in March 2017

Political relations

German-Slovak relations have traditionally been friendly. They are based on the of Treaty on Good-neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, dating from 27 February 1992, which was recognised by the Slovak Republic as one of the successor states to the CSFR. Relations between the two countries are no longer marred by problems relating to the first Slovak state (1939-44) headed by Jozef Tiso under the “protection” of Nazi Germany, the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising by German troops in 1944 and the flight and expulsion of the Carpathian Germans. As early as 1991, a declaration issued by the Slovak parliament helped advance the development of a joint perspective on these difficult chapters in the countries’ shared history.

Germany and Slovakia are close partners in the European Union and NATO, which Slovakia joined in 2004. The quality of bilateral relations is evidenced by the frequency of high-level visits in both directions. In October 2014, Federal Chancellor Merkel was awarded an honorary doctorate by Comenius University in Bratislava. Every year, numerous representatives of the Federal Government, the German Bundestag and Germany’s regional governments and parliaments visit Slovakia, such visits being particularly frequent during Slovakia’s first EU Presidency in the second half of 2016. On 3 October 2016, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then German Foreign Minister, celebrated the Day of German Unity with his Slovak counterpart Lajčák in Bratislava. Lajčák had previously been in Berlin for political talks in April 2016.

Economic Relations

As in previous years, Germany remained Slovakia’s most important trading partner in 2016 in terms of both exports and imports. A total of around 500 German companies have made investments in the Slovak Republic since its foundation in 1993, creating around 100,000 jobs. This means that Germany is one of the principal foreign direct investors in Slovakia. The German-Slovak Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Bratislava, which was founded in 2005, now has more than 400 members. Since 2015, Volkswagen Slovakia has been the country’s largest private-sector employer.

Cultural relations

Cultural and societal relations between Germany and Slovakia are close and extremely diverse. There is a lively exchange in all areas of culture, through official institutions, private foundations and private contacts. German cultural intermediaries – such as the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad – are involved in numerous activities in Slovakia as part of Germany’s cultural relations and education policy. The legal basis for all this is provided by the German-Slovak cultural cooperation agreement of 1 May 1997, as well as the Treaty of 1992 referred to above.

German is the second most important foreign language taught in Slovak schools after English, and as such is a cornerstone for the close relations between the two countries. 38 schools in Slovakia belong to the Schools: Partners for the Future network supported by Germany. The German School Bratislava (DSB), which opened in 2005, is the flagship institution – pupils here can study for both the German and the Slovak higher education entrance qualifications. The German Abitur can likewise be obtained at the grammar school in Poprad (a “German profile school”). At present, there are 34 schools in Slovakia where pupils can also sit the tests for the German Language Certificate.

Another bridge between the two countries is formed by the Carpathian German minority in Slovakia. In a national survey conducted in 2011, some 4,700 Slovaks said they belonged to the German minority. This means that the group is still only a fraction of its pre-war size. The German minority is well integrated in cultural, social and economic terms, and is generally respected. The Slovak Parliament’s Declaration of 12´ February 1991 marked a historic step in the process of reconciliation; it expressed regret for the injustices done in connection with the expulsions in the aftermath of World War II. The Federal Republic of Germany supports the Carpathian Germans in their cultural, educational and community-building activities.

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