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Germany and Bulgaria: Bilateral relations

16.12.2021 - Article

Bilateral relations are friendly and cover a wide range of fields. Bulgaria sees Germany as its main strategic partner in Europe. The large Bulgarian diaspora in Germany (approx. 400,000) 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 foreign chamber in Bulgaria. Germany is Bulgaria’s principal trading partner, and German tourists are a prime target group for the Bulgarian tourist industry. Some 1500 companies with German participation are operating in Bulgaria. However, staff shortages and the migration of qualified 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 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).

Bulgaria has a rich 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.

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