Last updated in February 2017
Relations between Germany and Croatia are very close. An important element in relations is the large number of Croats living in Germany (approximately 300,000) 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.
There are regular mutual visits by politicians, the most recent being the official visit to Zagreb by Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office Roth on 16 and 17 January 2017. Former Foreign Minister Steinmeier had previously hosted Croatian Foreign Minister Stier’s first visit to Berlin on 14 December 2016. Croatian Prime Minister Plenković met with Federal Chancellor Merkel in Berlin on 12 December 2016. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier had paid an earlier visit to Croatia on 30 April 2015. Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović paid an official visit to Berlin in March 2015.
The Mixed Croatia-Bavaria and Croatia-Baden-Württemberg Commissions meet regularly. Mutual visits by 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 ensure a lively exchange at all levels.
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 Croatian 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.
Economic relations are extremely close. Germany is Croatia’s principal trading partner, followed by Italy, Slovenia and Austria. Among foreign direct investors in Croatia, Germany ranks third, after the Netherlands and Austria. In addition to major investments by German businesses including DAX-listed companies, numerous small and medium-sized German companies have set up subsidiaries in Croatia.
With 2.13 million German tourists visiting Croatia in 2015 (an increase of 6.8 per cent over the previous year), they made up the largest group of foreign visitors.
A bilateral investment protection agreement entered into force in August 2000 and a double taxation accord in December 2006.
The German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which has more than 350 registered members companies, has been operating in Croatia since 2003. Germany Trade & Invest also has an office in Croatia.
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 higher education 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 on the Eurocampus.