Last updated in March 2013
Relations between Germany and Croatia are excellent, thanks to two main factors: firstly, the cultural influence of Germany and Austria over the centuries, the large number of Croats living permanently in Germany (approximately 223,000) and the former guest workers who have since returned to Croatia; secondly, the large number of German tourists that visit Croatia every year (some 1.85 million in 2012). Another factor is the large volume of bilateral trade. In science and technology, there are also close ties between institutions and individual researchers in the two countries.
Mutual visits at political level are frequent. Federal Chancellor Merkel and Bundestag President Lammert visited Croatia in 2007 and Federal President Köhler paid a visit in 2008. Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Federal Economics Minister Brüderle visited Croatia in 2010. In 2011, Croatia hosted visits by both Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Federal Chancellor Merkel. Official meetings took place between Croatian President Ivo Josipović and Federal President Wulff in 2011 and between then Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Federal Chancellor Merkel in Berlin in 2010. The Croatian Prime Minister, Zoran Milanović, met with Federal Chancellor Merkel in September 2012. The official visit to Croatia by Federal President Gauck from 6 to 8 December 2012 was the most recent of high-level contacts. The Mixed Croatia-Bavaria and Croatia-Baden-Württemberg Commissions meet regularly. There are also mutual exchanges between members of the German Bundestag, the Minister-Presidents of the German federal states and their regional parliaments and Croatian members of parliament as well as regular contacts among civil servants, business representatives, scientists, academics, students and interested individuals.
The German Federal Government is conducting a large number of projects to help strengthen market mechanisms, modernize the administration, reform the judiciary and align Croatian legislation with European law. These mainly involve advisory and training measures, conducting studies and organizing visits and observer placements of Croat civil servants, business personnel and other experts in Germany. Humanitarian aid measures are also continuing with German support, including repairing houses destroyed in the war, reconstructing and modernizing infrastructure and clearing mines.
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Heinrich Böll Foundation all have the own offices in Zagreb. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation are also active in Croatia.
Germany is Croatia’s second most important trading partner, after Italy, and ranks third among foreign direct investors, after Austria and the Netherlands. Germans make up the largest group of tourists visiting Croatia. The number of German tourists increased by 11.5 per cent in 2012 compared with the previous year. In addition to major German investments by Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Krupp, Bayer, BASF, Daimler, Schott, Messer, RWE, RWE Aqua and WTE Wassertechnik, numerous small and medium-sized German companies have set up subsidiaries in Croatia.
A bilateral investment protection agreement entered into force in August 2000 and a double taxation accord in December 2006. There is also a road transport agreement and an arrangement on the provisional application of an air transport agreement. A shipping agreement is under negotiation.
Since 2003, a German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce has been operating in Croatia, and for a number of years a Germany Trade & Invest office (formerly the German Office for Foreign Trade, bfai) has been active there. For several years now, numerous German experts have been working in Croatia under various EU accession programmes.
Bilateral cultural cooperation is based on the German-Croatian Cultural Agreement of 26 August 1994, which entered into force on 23 January 1998. Priority areas of cooperation are promoting mobility in the scientific and academic sector and maintaining and strengthening the prominent role of the German language in the Croatian education system (approximately 30 per cent of all Croat pupils learn German as their first or second foreign language). The principal cultural institutions active in Croatia are the Goethe Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with three academic teachers and a language assistant and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), coordinator for the German Language Diploma (DSD) and with a further eight programme teachers at Croatian grammar schools.
The German International School in Zagreb (DISZ) with an integrated kindergarten was founded in 2004 and currently offers instruction from grades one to ten. Since 2005, the German International School has been working together with the French School as part of a Eurocampus.