Last updated in April 2014
With the accreditation of ambassadors in Baghdad and Berlin on 24 and 28 August 2004, respectively, Germany resumed full diplomatic relations with Iraq. After the 1990/91 Gulf War and during the period of civilian transitional administration, they had been continued to a limited degree. Since the beginning of 2009, Germany has had a Consulate-General in Erbil, a fact that also reflects the importance of the Kurdistan-Iraq region and of the Kurdish returnees who had been living in exile in Germany. There are currently some 81,000 Iraqis living in Germany. Since 2003, several thousand former Iraqi exiles have returned to Iraq.
Germany and Iraq enjoy close and friendly relations that date back to well before the founding of the modern Iraqi state. Since the regime change in 2003, relations have increasingly intensified and are now founded on numerous mutual high-level visits. In February 2013, Federal Minister of Transport Ramsauer visited the cities of Baghdad and Erbil accompanied by a large business delegation. The visit focused on issues relating to infrastructure and transport. The most recent visit to Iraq was that by Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Niebel in August 2013. His trip included a visit to the Domiz refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan to gain a personal impression of the supply situation of the Syrian refugees living in the camp. There are now some 230,000 Syrian refugees living in Iraq (as of April 2014). The Federal Government is providing more than EUR 30 million to help Iraq afford assistance to refugees from neighbouring Syria.
Reconstruction assistance and humanitarian aid
Immediately after the war in 2003, Germany provided Iraq with extensive humanitarian aid and has since been helping the country to rebuild its economy and political institutions. Efforts focus on providing support in establishing the rule of law (in particular the judiciary), human rights, education and vocational training, culture and the re-integration of refugees and internally displaced persons through economic and reconstruction measures. Since 2003, Germany has provided Iraq with support worth well over EUR 400 million, including Germany’s share of EU assistance and its multilateral contributions (via the World Bank and the IMF). On top of this, debts amounting to EUR 4.7 billion were cancelled under a Paris Club agreement. More than 2,500 Iraqis (engineers, judges, diplomats, journalists, civil servants, etc.) have taken part in training courses. Germany supports United Nations’ and other international organisations’ projects on the ground.
The traditionally close economic ties between Germany and Iraq can be instrumental in helping reconstruct the country’s infrastructure and basic economic services, thus having a positive impact on the country’s political stabilisation. The volume of bilateral trade has constantly grown in recent years. In 2012, German exports to Iraq were worth EUR 1.28 billion and German imports from Iraq EUR 515.6 million. The Iraqi market also offers huge potential for German business. A particular priority for the Federal Government is reforming the vocational training sector. It is implementing a whole range of measures as part of its assistance. The Federal Foreign Office also provides support to two German Liaison Offices for Industry and Commerce in Iraq (DWI), based in Erbil and Baghdad.
Germany and Iraq cooperate closely in the cultural and education sectors. The overall conditions for cultural work in Iraq are difficult on account of the tense security situation.
Nevertheless, over the past few years the Federal Government has succeeded in markedly stepping up its engagement there, thus continuing a long tradition of cultural cooperation with Iraq, particularly in higher education through university partnerships and the awarding of scholarships by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). In this connection, projects were selected at four German higher education institutions that were designed, with the help of Iraqi partners, to create a framework for sustainable cooperation. A total of more than 800 students and academics have participated in exchange programmes. The DAAD has had an Information Centre in Erbil since 2011.
Another priority area of German-Iraqi cooperation is cultural heritage preservation through individual projects and cooperation arrangements of the German Archaeological Institute.
The Goethe Institute has had a German Dialogue Point at the University of Baghdad since 2008 and since 2010 has maintained a liaison office in Erbil serving the whole of Iraq.
Five Iraqi schools offering German instruction receive support under the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative: the German School Erbil, which was newly admitted to the programme in 2010, and four other Iraqi state schools. The German School Erbil is already being attended by some 220 children in the 2013/14 school year (from kindergarten up to and including 8th grade).
Iraq Horizons 2015: Sow Today, Reap Tomorrow is a joint initiative of the Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe Institute, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) that aims to strengthen German-Iraqi economic relations and intercultural exchange by promoting young Iraqi experts.
Baghdad was the Arab Capital of Culture from March 2013 to March 2014.