Key aspects of bilateral relations include the political development of the Republic of North Macedonia following independence, Germany’s role as the country’s leading cooperation partner and the close personal ties forged by the more than 100,000 citizens of North Macedonia living in Germany. A cornerstone of German policy towards North Macedonia is supporting the country’s integration into European structures and the reforms needed to this end, above all in the field of the rule of law.
There are numerous cooperation programmes and projects being implemented with the country’s Government and civil society, for example through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ) and the Civil Peace Service (CPS). The Federal Foreign Office supports several cooperation programmes and projects, primarily using Stability Pact funds.
Development cooperation focuses on environmentally friendly infrastructure projects (especially hydroelectric power and wind energy, water supply and waste management), strengthening social infrastructure through municipal projects and aligning legislation with EU standards.
Germany is the Republic of North Macedonia’s most important trading partner. Germany remains its main export market, with roughly 50 percent of the country’s goods exports going to Germany, while also accounting for the largest share of the country’s imports. More than 200 companies with German capital operate in North Macedonia, employing some 20,000 people.
Bilateral cultural relations are multifaceted. For the past several years, the German Embassy in Skopje has organised a film festival and screened new German films in cities throughout the country. In coordination with the Goethe-Institut, it supports exchange with German artists, organises exhibitions and concerts and, as part of Franco-German cultural cooperation abroad, conducts projects together with the French Embassy, the Institut Français and the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO). Additionally, the German Embassy supports regional youth and reconciliation initiatives such as RYCO (Regional Youth Cooperation Office, active in the Western Balkans) and YAK (Youth Alliance – Krusevo, which fosters cooperation between North Macedonia and Greece).
Given the country’s wide-ranging political and economic relations with Germany, there is considerable interest in the German language. Demand for learning German as a foreign language is high. German is now the second-most-studied foreign language in North Macedonia after English.