Last updated in April 2013
Bilateral relations are good and wide-ranging. Germany was one of the first countries to recognize the Republic of Kosovo under international law after the country declared its independence in February 2008 and to establish diplomatic relations with it. The government and people of Kosovo also remember with gratitude that Germany provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kosovo before and during the military conflicts of 1998/1999 and from 1999 onwards helped with reconstruction efforts, initially through emergency relief measures and shortly afterwards by commencing development cooperation.
The German troops (KFOR), police officers, judges and public prosecutors (UNMIK and, since the end of 2008, EULEX) and civilian workers deployed there as part of international missions have, through their professionalism and objectivity, helped further strengthen Germany’s positive image in Kosovo.
Germany is considered one of Kosovo’s privileged partners, offering the country long-term support in its efforts towards integration in Euro-Atlantic organizations. Regular visits to Priština by members of the Federal Government and the German Bundestag underline the importance that Germany attaches to Kosovo’s development – also as a factor in the stability of the region as a whole.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Germany is Kosovo’s principal trading partner in the EU and ranks second among the country’s trading partners, after the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In 2011, Kosovo’s imports from Germany were worth EUR 292 million, while the country’s exports to Germany amounted to a mere EUR 23 million.
Kosovo’s geographical location, its prospects for EU accession and its membership of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), the country’s young and inexpensive workforce, its untapped natural resources and fertile farmland are all positive factors making Kosovo an up-and-coming business destination. The global economic and financial crisis also left Kosovo relatively unscathed.
Germany is the second largest bilateral donor of development cooperation, after the United States. Since 1999, Germany has provided some EUR 400 million for emergency relief measures, humanitarian aid and Technical and Financial Cooperation projects. At the intergovernmental negotiations on development cooperation in September 2012, new commitments totalling EUR 28.3 million were made for 2013, including EUR 20 million in Financial Cooperation and EUR 8.3 million in Technical Cooperation.
Development cooperation focuses on the following sectors:
- public administration, democratization and civil society
- basic education and vocational training
- infrastructure development, in particular water management and power supply
- sustainable economic development
In addition, some EUR 3.4 million in funding was provided in 2012 under the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe to support again numerous projects promoting democracy, human and minority rights, peaceful conflict management and the rule of law.
The Goethe Institute does not have a local office in Kosovo, which continues to be served by the GI’s Belgrade office. However, a language learning centre that is partnered with the Goethe Institute is due to open shortly in Priština. In addition, the German Embassy in Priština handles a large portion of the cultural work, including scholarship and further-education programmes as well as organizing events such as concerts and exhibitions. German culture invariably meets with a warm response in Kosovo, as evidenced by events such as the annually held Days of the German Language and the German Film Week. On 12 September 2012, Germany and Kosovo signed a cultural agreement that placed the already existing lively cultural exchange between the two countries on an official footing under international law.
Given the close relations with Germany at all levels, there is a very keen interest in learning German, with demand outstripping the courses offered. Along with English, German is the most widely spoken foreign language. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has an academic teacher working at the University of Priština and also awards scholarships, which are very popular. There are some 100 teachers of German in Kosovo and two schools offering the German Language Diploma. In cooperation with the German Embassy, Kosovo’s Ministry of Education is seeking to further consolidate the position of German in the curriculum. In addition, since 1 September 2010 two schools have offered German as a foreign language from the first grade onwards under the PASCH initiative.
Together with local partners, the German Archaeological Institute is exploring the Roman excavation site Ulpiana, which is located approximately 10 kilometres from Priština.