Last updated in March 2015
Germany supports Armenia in its efforts to move closer to the EU (as part of the Eastern Partnership) and NATO. The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met most recently with Federal Chancellor Merkel in Berlin in June 2010. Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian travels to Germany regularly for talks, meeting most recently with Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier on 17 June 2014. Nalbandian attended the Munich Security Conference in February 2015. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Armenia on 23 October 2014, meeting with his Armenian counterpart as well as with President Sargsyan and representatives of civil society.
As a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, Germany supports the Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ efforts to negotiate in the Nagorno-Karabach conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, calling for de-escalation and urging both sides to show greater willingness to compromise. Germany is encouraging Armenia and Turkey to continue the process of rapprochement, which began in 2009 but is now faltering. Germany supports this process at civil-society level by funding cross-border reconciliation projects.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Germany is Armenia’s principal trading partner in the European Union. Germany ranks third worldwide among suppliers of Armenian imports, after Russia and China. As a buyer of Armenian exports, it occupies second place, behind Russia. Despite an upwards trend, bilateral trade between Germany and Armenia remains modest in absolute figures. In the first three quarters of 2014, Armenian exports to Germany stood at USD 118 million, compared with USD 83.7 million in the same period the previous year. German exports to Armenia were worth USD 210 million, compared with USD 199 million in the same period the previous year. Germany’s principal exports to Armenia were motor vehicles, machinery, chemicals and electrical goods. Its main imports from Armenia were iron, steel, copper, molybdenum and other metals as well as textiles.
In development cooperation, Germany is Armenia’s second most important bilateral donor, after the United States. At the intergovernmental negotiations on development cooperation held in September 2014, Germany pledged as much as EUR 109.8 million in Financial Cooperation. In addition, in 2014 new funding was made available for regional projects in which Armenia is involved. For these projects, a total of up to EUR 21 million is being provided under Technical Cooperation and as much as EUR 2 million in Financial Cooperation.
Since 2010, official German development cooperation with the Southern Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) has been conducted purely through regional programmes under the Federal Government’s Caucasus Initiative. Priority areas of the Caucasus Initiative are sustainable economic development, energy, the environment, developing democracy and the rule of law and strengthening local administration.
Ongoing German development cooperation projects with Armenia therefore focus on promoting small and medium-sized companies, developing and reforming Armenia’s financial sector, improving energy efficiency, promoting renewable energy and regional power exchange, the sustainable management of natural resources and the establishment of nature conservation areas. Efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law focus on creating a functioning independent judiciary by providing expert advice on legislation, jurisprudence and application of the law. Other goals are developing democracy at local level and administrative decentralisation, more efficient public finance management and promoting civil-society participation in political decision-making processes. In addition, there are projects aimed at modernising water, sanitation and waste-management infrastructure.
The micro-projects supported by the German Embassy in Yerevan focus on providing assistance to kindergartens and promoting the participation of people with disabilities in society, as well as further-education and rehabilitation measures in the medical sector.
Armenians mainly derive their sense of identity from their ancient and history-steeped culture. Culture is therefore an important factor in bilateral relations. The main goal of Germany’s cultural and education policy in Armenia is to promote German as a foreign language at both school and university level.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) have their own German staff working in Armenia. The language learning centre in Yerevan, which commenced operation in early 2012, also includes a German Reading Room and the office of a Goethe Institute Expert Consultant for Teaching German. Literary, musical and other events, which are organised in cooperation with the Tbilisi/Georgia-based Goethe Institute that serves Armenia and the German Embassy in Yerevan, are designed to convey a modern and realistic picture of Germany and intensify contacts between those active in the cultural sector on both sides.
There are 25 partnerships between German and Armenian higher education institutions, in particular long-standing ties with the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, where the MESROP Centre for Armenian Studies was established in 1998.
Contacts and exchange between the two countries in the cultural sector are close. The Armenian Education and Science Minister visits Germany every year, most recently in September 2014. There is a lively exchange between schools in Saxony-Anhalt and Armenia, with seven school partnerships currently in place. Saxony-Anhalt’s State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology is conducting projects in Armenia.