Last updated in October 2013
Germany and Tunisia have maintained mutual relations since the 1960s. Since the 14 January 2011 revolution, the Federal Government has supported Tunisia’s transition to democracy. On 9 January 2012, Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and his Tunisian counterpart Ben Abdessalem signed a joint declaration of intent to strengthen the two countries’ transformation partnership. At the first German-Tunisian intergovernmental consultations at state secretary level on 12 September 2012, Germany increased its financial engagement for 2012 and 2013 to more than EUR 50 million. German support focuses on a number of areas including promoting the rule of law and good governance, encouraging employment and vocational training based on Germany’s dual system, strengthening civil society and building a professional media landscape.
Numerous visits in both directions testify to Germany’s good and intensive relations with Tunisia since the revolution. Prime Minister Laarayedh visited Berlin on 6 June 2013. President Marzouki was in Berlin and Munich on 21 and 22 March 2013. Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited Tunis on 19 March 2013 and on 14/15 August 2013.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Economic relations between Germany and Tunisia are good and forward-looking. Since the Tunisian revolution, both countries have shown keen interest and considerable initiative in further stepping up relations. Germany is Tunisia’s third largest trading partner and foreign investor, after France and Italy. According to German-Tunisian Chamber of Industry and Commerce figures, some 250 – mostly export-oriented – German companies are active in Tunisia.
The main German exports to Tunisia are textiles (primary products), electronic goods, machinery, motor vehicles, chemical products and food industry products as well as iron and iron goods. The principal German imports from Tunisia are finished textile products, electrical components, car parts (especially wiring), leather goods, crude oil, food industry products, fuels, lubricating oils and carpets.
In development cooperation, too, Germany is one of Tunisia’s principal bilateral partners. Since development cooperation began in the 1960s, Tunisia has received funding worth more than EUR 1.5 billion from Germany. New commitments for 2012 amounted to EUR 99.9 million. Cooperation focuses on environmental protection and resource conservation, water, sustainable economic development, renewable energy and promoting employment.
Central elements of German-Tunisian cultural cooperation are the scholarships awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as well as German language courses and cultural events. Tunisia also participates in the Federal Foreign Office’s ‘Schools: Partners for the Future’ initiative, six partner schools having been selected. The Goethe Institute in Tunis is the leading sponsor of cultural cooperation.
The Rome branch of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) has earned great respect over the past four decades for its excavations at Carthage and Chimtou. Since 2000, finds from the ancient Mahdia shipwreck, which were restored in Germany, have been on show at the Bardo Museum in Tunis. In September 2011, the DAI signed new agreements with Tunisia’s Ministry of Culture on the continuation of archaeological cooperation. In 2012 and 2013, the DAI is conducting another major cultural preservation project in Chimtou (Roman imperial cult temple) with Federal Foreign Office funding.
In autumn 1989, Spanish, Italian and German were introduced at Tunisian secondary schools as third (optional) foreign languages. Since then, the numbers of both learners and teachers of German have nearly doubled. Since June 1992, Radio Tunis International has broadcast a daily half-hour programme in German. The German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle contributes to the range of programmes available.
Germany’s political foundations with offices in the Tunisian capital Tunis (the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation) conduct consulting projects and hold seminars to promote the rule of law, administrative reform, a market economy, women’s rights, trade unions and civil society.