Azerbaijan regards Germany as one of its most important partners in Western Europe. On 25 August 2018, Federal Chancellor Merkel paid her first visit to Baku, meeting with President Aliyev for talks. Then Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Baku most recently on 30 June 2016 as part of his trip to the South Caucasus in his capacity as OSCE chair. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has visited Germany a number of times, most recently in June 2016. He also attended the Munich Security Conference in February 2017, while Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov represented the country in 2019.
Since 1994, Azerbaijan’s Government has exploited the large deposits of oil and natural gas under the Caspian Sea in partnership with Western companies. Azerbaijan’s economic boom – due to large-scale investment projects and the revenue from oil production – is also reflected in its economic relations with Germany. The economic crisis triggered by the drop in oil prices in 2015 now seems to be over and trends are improving. Azerbaijan is Germany’s principal economic partner in the Caucasus. The founding in autumn 2012 of the German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce placed bilateral economic relations on a firm institutional footing. Azerbaijan is one of Germany’s ten most important suppliers of crude oil and is particularly important when it comes to efforts to diversify European energy supplies.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, the volume of trade stood at 1442.1 million euros in 2018. When it comes to exports, worth 433.6 million euros in 2018, the key products are machinery, motor vehicles and components, iron and steel products as well as production facilities. According to Azerbaijani statistics, Germany ranks third amongst the countries exporting goods to the country. A number of German energy companies have a long-term interest in oil and gas exploration and production there. A joint venture between Uniper (E.ON) and Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company SOCAR has been in existence since May 2015.
German development cooperation with Azerbaijan includes developing the private business sector outside the oil and gas industry. Commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) supports the diversification of the country’s economy by advising Azerbaijan’s Government on how to improve the regulatory environment, build a needs-oriented vocational training system and strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism and agriculture sectors. Another major project is developing a loan system by implementing a series of Financial and Technical Cooperation measures. Other important fields include supporting good local governance and municipal development, increasing the use of renewable energies and energy efficiency, as well as preserving biodiversity. Since Azerbaijan gained independence, German development cooperation has provided a total of more than 600 million euros to help develop the country (mainly in the form of loans as part of Financial Cooperation).
Culture and education
Cultural relations between the two countries date back to the early 19th century. In western Azerbaijan (Goygol, Shemkir), numerous historic buildings, including churches, are a reminder that Swabian immigrants settled there from 1818/19 onwards. To mark the 200th anniversary of the German settlement, the Embassy organised various projects through the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme including a publication on the traces of German architecture in Azerbaijan and a multimedia exhibition on the history of the German settlers.
Germany enjoys a positive image in Azerbaijan. A bilateral cultural agreement has been in place since 1995. In 2008, Azerbaijan held its first cultural year abroad, Germany being chosen to host the event. A Azerbaijan Cultural Centre in Berlin which has recently been set up is to further bolster cultural exchange. A cornerstone of cultural relations is the German-Azerbaijani Cultural Association, which runs the Kapellhaus (Chapel House) encounter centre in Baku, in what was once the music room of the adjacent Protestant church. The historical building, restored with the help of donations, hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year. A Goethe-Zentrum opened in Baku in December 2017 and is making a major contribution to cultural exchange between the two countries.
German is the third most important foreign language, after Russian and English, and is taught at numerous schools and several universities. Four schools in Baku, which form part of the Schools: Partners for the Future network (PASCH), offer German instruction with support from the Goethe-Institut and/or the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA). The language work of the Goethe-Institut in Tbilisi is conducted by the Language Learning Centre acting as a cooperation partner. The Centre is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2019.
Each year, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awards a large number of scholarships and works to promote academic exchange. In the academic year 2018/19 alone, a total of 218 Azerbaijani students received DAAD scholarships. Around 1200 Azerbaijani students are enrolled at German universities. There are 30 university partnerships between universities and academic institutions in the two countries. In the academic year 2017/18, the DAAD had an Information Centre (IC) and an IC lector at the Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University in Baku and a language assistant at the Azerbaijan University of Languages. In the academic year 2018/19, a language assistant is being funded at the Baku Slavic University.
There is a very active town twinning programme between Sumgait and Ludwigshafen and another between Baku and Mainz.
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