Last updated in June 2012
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. “Germany’s support is very important for Iraq,” said Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoschiar Zebari in 2009. The most recent visit was that by Federal Economics Minister Rösler to Iraq in November 2011 as part of a Joint Economic Commission. The main issues addressed were infrastructure, health care, electricity supply and transport.
With the accreditation of ambassadors in Baghdad and Berlin on 24 and 28 August 2004, 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.
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 approximately 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 organizations’ projects on the ground and makes a substantial contribution to the European Union Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq (EUJUST LEX).
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 stabilization. The volume of bilateral trade has constantly grown in recent years. In 2011, German exports to Iraq were worth EUR 1.13 billion and German imports from Iraq EUR 359.3 million. The Iraqi market also offers huge potential for German business. A particular priority for the German 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. Despite the improved security situation compared with the previous years, the overall conditions for cultural work in Iraq are still very poor. A clear distinction must be made regarding the situation in the federal regions of Kurdistan-Iraq, the relatively stable security situation there creating better conditions for cultural work.
In recent years, the German Federal Government has markedly stepped up its engagement. Germany is 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) and in the area of cultural heritage preservation through cooperation projects conducted by the German Archaeological Institute.
Goethe Institute Dialogue Points in Baghdad and Erbil
Five Iraqi schools offering German instruction receive support under the ‘Schools: Partners for the Future’ initiative: the German School in Erbil, which was newly admitted to the programme in 2010, and four other Iraqi state schools.
As the security situation in Iraq gradually stabilizes, the arts scene and cultural life are slowly reviving.