Until the late 1980s, Germany’s substantial development assistance was a key element in its relations with Burma (known as Myanmar since 1989). Following the military’s brutal suppression of demonstrations in 1988, cooperation with the country was largely halted.
Myanmar has received support via humanitarian and emergency assistance measures several times in the past (for example in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and the severe flooding in the summer of 2015).
Official development cooperation was resumed in summer 2012. During his visit to Myanmar, then Federal President Joachim Gauck signed an agreement on debt relief and rescheduling on 10 February 2014. Bilateral development cooperation in the priority area of sustainable economic development supports projects involving the provision of funding to small and medium-sized enterprises, vocational training and the general promotion of trade and industry. Germany is the country’s second-largest foreign donor after Japan.
Furthermore, five political foundations – the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – are represented in Yangon. Church-affiliated and non‑governmental organisations are also active in the country.
Academic collaboration, primarily via scholarship programmes, is a key component of cultural cooperation.
The Goethe-Institut in Yangon, which is now housed in a fully restored and renovated prestigious historical building, is the most visible symbol of Germany’s cultural relations policy.
A precious artefact from Myanmarhas, for the first time ever, been presented to the public as a 3D scan: the Golden Letter from King Alaungphaya of Burma to King George II of Great Britain. The project was financed from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office.