Germany and Bulgaria: Bilateral relations
Germany and Bulgaria enjoy long-standing amicable relations. Bulgaria sees Germany as a strategic partner in Europe. The large Bulgarian diaspora in Germany (approx. 430,000 people) forms an important bridge between the two countries.
Germany is Bulgaria’s leading economic partner. German companies are among the largest foreign investors in the country, and the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce is the biggest bilateral foreign chamber in Bulgaria. In 2023 it is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. Some 3800 companies with German participation operate in Bulgaria, providing around 60,000 jobs. However, staff shortages and the migration of skilled workers to other EU member states are also affecting German companies active in Bulgaria.
The two countries enjoy long-standing intensive contacts in the schools and universities sector. Several thousand Bulgarian students are enrolled at German universities. There are about a thousand Germans studying at Bulgarian universities, especially medicine in Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv and Pleven. There are over 250 partnerships between German and Bulgarian universities. Bulgaria also has several degree programmes that are offered in German.
German remains popular as a foreign language in Bulgaria: after English and Russian, it is the third most important foreign language at grammar schools (and the second most important in the cities). Every year over 1500 school pupils obtain the German Language Certificate (DSD), which qualifies them to study in Germany.
Bulgaria has a diverse cultural scene, although it faces some financial constraints. German organisations such as the Goethe-Institut, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation run projects in Bulgaria.