Last updated in September 2015
Relations between Germany and Croatia are very close. An important element in relations is the large number of Croats living in Germany (approximately 263,000) and the former guest workers who have since returned to Croatia. In addition, some two million German tourists visit Croatia every year. The two countries also enjoy close relations in the economic sphere and in science and technology.
Mutual visits by politicians are frequent. The official visit to Germany by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in March 2015 was the most recent of high-level contact on the Croatian side. Federal President Gauck visited Croatia in December 2012 and Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier was in Zagreb on 30 April 2015. In January 2014, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić met with Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Berlin on the occasion of the German-Croatian Forum. Federal Chancellor Merkel attended the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit in Dubrovnik on 15 July 2014. Prime Minister Zoran Milanović represented Croatia at the Federal Government’s Western Balkans Conference in Berlin on 28 August 2014.
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.
Germany continues to provide support to Croatia after its accession to the European Union through numerous projects designed to strengthen a market-based economy there, modernise the country’s administration, reform the judiciary and promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. The help is provided mainly through advisory and training measures, developing studies and organising visits and observer placements of Croat civil servants, business staff and other experts to Germany. In the past, humanitarian aid measures were also conducted with German support, including repairing houses destroyed in the war, reconstructing and modernising infrastructure and clearing mines.
In the first six months of 2015, Germany was Croatia’s principal trading partner, followed by Italy and Slovenia. Among foreign direct investors in Croatia, Germany ranks third, after Austria and the Netherlands. With two million Germans visiting Croatia very year, they make up the largest group of foreign tourists. In 2014, the number of German tourists increased by three per cent compared with the previous year, in the first seven months by 9.9 per cent. In addition to major German investments by Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Krupp, Bayer, BASF, Daimler, Schott, Messer, RWE and RWE Aqua, numerous small and medium-sized German companies have set up subsidiaries in Croatia. Since the liberalisation of the country’s energy market in 2013, the German company RWE Energija GmbH has also been supplying power to private customers 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.
The German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce has been operating in Croatia since 2003. In 2014 and 2015, it saw a marked increase in the number of its members. In addition to the chamber, there is a Germany Trade & Invest office (formerly the German Office for Foreign Trade, bfai).
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 science and academia and maintaining and strengthening the prominent role of the German language in the Croatian education system (approximately 30 per cent of all students at Croatia’s schools learn German as their first or second foreign language). The principal cultural intermediaries active in Croatia are the Goethe Institute, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) with a coordinator for the German Language Certificate (DSD) and a further eight programme teachers at Croatian grammar schools.
The German International School in Zagreb (DISZ) was founded in 2004. In addition to the kindergarten, it offers instruction leading to the German university entrance examination (Abitur) and cooperates closely with the French School in Zagreb as a Eurocampus.