The absence of violence around the 2015 presidential election and the release of political prisoners have led to existing EU sanctions against Belarus largely being lifted. This has opened up new perspectives for political, economic, cultural and civil-society cooperation between Germany/the EU and Belarus.
In June 2018, Federal President Steinmeier and President Lukashenko opened a construction phase at the Maly Trostenets extermination camp memorial site. The German-Belarusian commission of historians was constituted at the end of January 2020. Further, a bilateral advisory group is to propose strategic aims and concrete projects for the further development of German-Belarusian relations in the course of 2020.
Germany is a major trading partner of Belarus. In 2019, the bilateral volume of trade was around two billion euros; Belarusian trade with the EU as a whole was worth just under 16 billion euros. Germany is accordingly Belarus’ fourth-largest trading partner, behind Russia, Ukraine and China. Despite occasionally difficult economic and administrative conditions, over 300 German companies are active in Belarus. The main exports are oil products, machinery, IT services and agricultural products.
Bilateral cultural cooperation focuses on education and science and promotion of the German language, as well as music, theatre and exhibitions. The Goethe-Institut in Minsk, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the PASCH initiative play a role here. The German Culture Weeks are traditionally the highlight of Germany’s cultural engagement in Belarus. There are close ties between Belarus and Germany in the civil-society sector, such as Chernobyl aid or societal reconciliation against the background of Nazi crimes in Belarus.