Last updated in September 2013
Political relations between Germany and Azerbaijan are good. Azerbaijan regards Germany as one of its most important partners in Western Europe. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has visited Germany a number of times, most recently in February 2012. There is a lively exchange between the two countries at parliamentary and ministerial level.
Since 1994, Azerbaijan’s government has exploited the large deposits of oil and natural gas under the Caspian Sea in partnership with Western companies. Azerbaijan’s economic boom – due to large-scale investment projects and the revenue from oil production – is also reflected in its economic relations with Germany. Azerbaijan is Germany’s principal economic partner in the Caucasus. This is evident from the positive response to the founding in autumn 2012 of the German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which already has 150 member companies from both countries – with membership on the rise. In 2012, the volume of bilateral trade stood at EUR 2.25 billion. Germany’s principal import from Azerbaijan is oil: it imported 2.2 million tonnes in 2012, making Azerbaijan Germany’s eighth largest supplier of crude oil.
German exports to Azerbaijan – which were worth EUR 781 million in 2012, compared with EUR 829 million in 2011 – consist mainly of motor vehicles, iron and steel goods, machinery and production facilities. A number of German energy companies have a long-term interest in oil and gas exploration and production there.
German development cooperation with Azerbaijan includes developing a market economy there and promoting the private business sector outside the oil and gas industry. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) assists individual companies and the responsible authorities by drawing up business plans and conducting development and market analyses. Another major project is developing a loan system by implementing a series of Financial and Technical Cooperation measures (microfinance AccessBank, German-Azerbaijani Fund, support of the private banking sector). A politically important area is supporting legal and judicial reform. Other priorities of development cooperation are the rehabilitation of drinking water supply for more than 145,000 inhabitants of selected provincial centres as well as environment-related programmes.
Cultural relations between the two countries date back to the early 19th century. In western Azerbaijan (Goygol and Shemkir), numerous historic buildings, including churches, are a reminder that Swabian immigrants settled there from 1819 onwards. In Baku, too, there is still a Protestant church that was built by a German architect.
Germany enjoys a positive image in Azerbaijan. A bilateral cultural agreement has been in place since 1995. In 2008, Azerbaijan held its first cultural year abroad, Germany being chosen to host the event. A cornerstone of bilateral cultural work is the German-Azerbaijani Cultural Association, which runs the Kapellhaus (Chapel House) encounter centre in Baku. The historical building, restored with the help of donations, hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year.
German remains the third most important foreign language, after Russian and English, and is taught at numerous schools and several universities. Three schools in Baku, which form part of the Schools: Partners for the Future network (PASCH), offer German instruction with support from the Goethe Institute and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA). The language work of the Goethe Institute (GI) in Tiblisi, which also serves Azerbaijan, is conducted by the Language Learning Centre acting as a GI cooperation partner. Cultural events held in the Kapellhaus are funded by the GI.
Each year, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awards numerous scholarships as well as promoting academic exchange. Academic ties include partnerships between Cologne University of Applied Sciences and the Azerbaijan Technical University in Baku and between the University of Bonn and the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. A DAAD academic teacher is helping to improve the quality of German teaching in Azerbaijan. The Goethe Institute makes regular donations of books and equipment to Azerbaijani universities.
Town twinning arrangements exist between Sumgait and Ludwigshafen and between Baku and Mainz.