Last updated in October 2016
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 June 2016. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Baku most recently on 30 June 2016 as part of his trip to the South Caucasus.
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. The founding in autumn 2012 of the German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce placed bilateral economic relations on a firm institutional footing. In 2015, the volume of bilateral trade stood at USD 3.2 billion. Germany’s principal import from Azerbaijan is oil: it imported oil worth USD 1.2 billion in 2015, making Azerbaijan Germany’s sixth most important supplier of crude oil.
German exports to Azerbaijan, which were worth USD 690 million in 2015, consist mainly of motor vehicles, iron and steel goods, machinery and production facilities. Germany is Azerbaijan’s fourth most important trading partner, after Russia, Turkey and the United States. A number of German energy companies have a long-term interest in oil and gas exploration and production there. A joint venture between Uniper (E.ON) and Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company SOCAR has been in existence since May 2015.
German development cooperation with Azerbaijan includes developing the private business sector outside the oil and gas industry. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) supports the diversification of the country’s economy by advising Azerbaijan’s government on how to improve the regulatory environment, build a needs-oriented vocational training system and strengthen export capacities. Another major project is developing a loan system by implementing a series of Financial and Technical Cooperation measures (the microfinance AccessBank, German-Azerbaijani Fund and 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 and preserving biodiversity. Since Azerbaijan gained independence, German development cooperation has provided a total of more than EUR 600 million to help build the country (mainly in the form of loans as part of Financial Cooperation).
Culture and education
Cultural relations between the two countries date back to the early 19th century. In western Azerbaijan (Goygol, Shemkir), numerous historic buildings, including churches, are a reminder that Swabian immigrants settled there from 1817 onwards.
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 cultural relations is the German-Azerbaijani Cultural Association, which runs the Kapellhaus (Chapel House) encounter centre in Baku, in what was once the music room of the adjacent Protestant church. The historical building, restored with the help of donations, hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year, some of them funded by the Goethe Institute in Tbilisi, which is responsible for the whole region.
German is the third most important foreign language, after Russian and English, and is taught at numerous schools and several universities. Four 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/or the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA). The language work of the Goethe Institute in Tbilisi is conducted by the Language Learning Centre acting as a cooperation partner.
Each year, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awards a large number of scholarships as well as promoting academic exchange. There are 21 university partnerships between the two countries. A DAAD academic teacher is helping to improve the quality of German teaching in Azerbaijan. The Goethe Institute in Tbilisi is also responsible for Azerbaijan.
Town twinning arrangements exist between Sumgait and Ludwigshafen and between Baku and Mainz.