German-Albanian relations are close and characterised by a spirit of partnership. Albania is a partner country of German development cooperation.
Diplomatic relations between Germany and Albania were established in 1987. Relations have become significantly more active since the start of Albania’s democratisation process in 1991.
It is in Germany’s interest to help promote stability, democracy and the rule of law in Albania and across the region by supporting the country’s transformation process.
Germany is the tenth-largest direct investor in Albania, with annual direct investment in the lower double-digit million range.
The German-Albanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Albania (www.dih-al.com) was founded in 2007 and now has more than 90 members.
German engagement in Albania focuses on the banking sector, transport and logistics, the retail sector, the textile industry, automotive trade and maintenance, the production and marketing of chemical and pharmaceutical products, and the manufacture of cable harnesses. Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Adria Airlines operate daily direct flights from Tirana to Frankfurt, Munich and Vienna. Prominent German companies have branches in the country or market their products via Albanian partners.
The German-Albanian investment protection agreement entered into force in 1995 and the bilateral double taxation agreement in 2012. Albania has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2000.
Albania’s foreign trade focuses on the EU, which accounts for 62 percent of Albania’s imports and 75 percent of its exports. Italy remained Albania’s principal EU trading partner in 2017. Kosovo is its second-largest trading partner. In 2017, Germany ranked fifth among Albania’s trading partners in terms of exports (99 million euros) and fourth in terms of imports (299 million euros), behind Italy (1.14 billion euros), Turkey (372 million euros) and Greece (349 million euros).
Germany has been helping Albania in the water, energy supply, sanitation and waste-management sectors since 1988. It is also working with the Albanian Government to promote the development of a social and ecologically sustainable market economy. Rural and agricultural enterprises receive assistance in the form of loans, subsidies, further training and consulting services. Increasing support is being provided to construct urgently needed vocational schools and create a functioning waste-management sector. Since 1988, Germany has provided funding of over one billion euros (including its contributions to the EU, the United Nations and the World Bank), thus making it one of Albania’s biggest and most important bilateral donors. Environmental and climate protection is a major cross-cutting topic. All these projects are designed to help Albania on its path to EU membership.
Cultural relations between Germany and Albania are based on the cultural agreement that was signed on 26 November 2015 and entered into force on 25 March 2019.
There is keen interest in Albania in cultural exchange with Germany. Every autumn since 2007, the German Embassy in Tirana and numerous partners have organised German October, that is, German-Albanian cultural weeks in Albania. These feature a large number of events in Tirana and other cities. A list of past events can be found on the German Embassy’s website.
As part of the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), Germany supports six Albanian schools at which German is taught. There is a bilingual section at Sami Frasheri Grammar School in Tirana, where in addition to German as a foreign language, mathematics and geography are also taught in German, in some cases by teachers from Germany. Since the summer semester of 2018, German universities have recognised the Albanian higher education entrance qualification.
Germany promotes scientific and academic exchange and supports the establishment of sound academic structures. A number of universities in Albania maintain contacts with German universities. These contacts have led to student and faculty exchanges. Albanian students and academics also regularly participate in exchange programmes organised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In addition, the DAAD lecturer at the DAAD Liaison Office in Tirana offers regular guidance sessions on studying and scholarships in Germany. Information events on studying in Germany are also held regularly in Tirana.
Every year, a number of Albanian university graduates are given the opportunity to complete an International Parliamentary Internship in the German Bundestag, thus enabling them to learn about political decision-making processes and to acquire practical experience of parliamentary work. Germany is also engaged in efforts to preserve and maintain Albania’s cultural heritage. For instance, it has provided support to the National Museum of Medieval Art in Korça with its important collection of icons and to the Marubi Photo Archives in Shkodra. In 2012 and 2013, funding was provided under Germany’s Cultural Preservation Programme to restore a mosaic at the archaeological site of Antigonea. The German Archaeological Institute was also involved in work at the Apollonia excavation site for around ten years. A ceremony was held in early October 2015 to mark the conclusion of joint work by Germany and Albania on the amphitheatre there.
The Goethe-Zentrum Tirana is an important player in German cultural and education cooperation with Albania. It reports to the Goethe-Institut in Skopje. The Goethe-Zentrum offers German courses at all levels and organises its own cultural events.