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Germany and Georgia: Bilateral Relations Georgia

28.02.2019 - Article

Politics

Germany was the first country in the then European Community to recognise Georgia under international law, on 23 March 1992, after it had gained independence in 1991. The two countries established diplomatic relations on 13 April 1992. Germany opened an embassy in Georgia in 1992, the first country to do so. Relations are close and trustful, dating back more than 200 years to the immigration of Swabian farmers who settled there from 1817 onwards. Germany will forever remember the role played in German reunification by the former Soviet Foreign Minister and subsequent Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. In turn, Germany is well liked and highly regarded in Georgia. The substantial development assistance provided by the German Government and the wide range of cultural, academic and personal contacts are greatly appreciated by Georgians.

After the war broke out in 2008, Germany was one of the first countries to provide Georgia with aid for humanitarian projects to help war victims and refugees and to support reconstruction measures in the country. Germany is also actively involved in the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia.

Visits by top-level politicians from both countries are frequent. On 26 April 2017, Foreign Minister Janelidze and Foreign Minister Gabriel together opened the German-Georgian Year 2017 in Berlin. On 27 September 2017, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani visited Berlin from 2 to 5 July 2018 and had talks with Federal Foreign Minister Maas on 2 July. At the end of August 2018, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the three countries of the southern Caucasus.

Germany is keen to see Georgia and the region as a whole move closer to the European Union. Germany strongly advocated including Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and actively supported the EU’s decision to create an Eastern Partnership. Together with France (Germany’s then Foreign Minister Steinmeier and France’s then Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius paid a joint visit to the country in late April 2014), Germany pushed for the signing of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement.

The German Government is also promoting the integration of the entire region through its Caucasus Initiative, which is part of German development cooperation.

Economy

The agreement on the promotion and mutual protection of investments, which has been in force since 27 September 1998, and the double taxation agreement, in force since 21 December 2007, provide a sound basis for bilateral trade under international law.

Germany is currently Georgia’s seventh-largest trading partner, after Turkey, Azerbaijan, China, Russia, Armenia and Ukraine. In 2018, trade between Germany and Georgia was worth some 417 million euros. Georgian imports from Germany – mainly cars and car parts, machinery, chemical products, electrical goods and food – amounted to 300 million euros. Georgia’s main exports to Germany were food (in particular nuts) and textiles. There is potential for a further expansion of exports when the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Agreement with the EU is implemented.

The German Government is helping Georgia to develop its private sector, as well as assisting with further management training and location marketing. It is also advising the Georgian Government on macroeconomic issues.

There are some 230 German companies operating in Georgia, mainly through sales offices. The German Business Association Georgia (DWVG), which was set up in 2007, has been instrumental in strengthening bilateral economic relations. Around 177 companies operating in Georgia are currently members. The DWVG offers a wide range of services for companies wishing to enter the Georgian market and organises presentations in Germany to promote Georgia as an investment destination. It is a partner in the global network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad. Since 2008, the entrepreneur and Honorary Consul of Georgia in Munich, Professor Claus Hipp, has served as honorary chair.

Development cooperation

Germany is Georgia’s largest bilateral development cooperation partner, alongside the United States. Since 1992, it has provided more than 1066 billion euros in development assistance. This does not include contributions to the tune of almost 300 million euros for regional programmes benefiting all three countries of the southern Caucasus. Cooperation is conducted as part of the German Government’s Caucasus Initiative and focuses on the following priority areas: the environment and energy, sustainable economic development, democracy, municipal development and the rule of law.

Not least due to the consultancy assistance provided by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), 70 percent of the country’s citizens now have access to modern services in their local communities. GIZ has also helped Georgia introduce programme budgeting and improve the quality of legal training and financial accountability in public expenditure. Since 2016, Germany has been helping Georgia introduce the dual system of vocational training and today more than 200 young people are training in some 50 companies involved in training in the sectors of viticulture, tourism and the construction industry. Other flagship projects of German development cooperation with Georgia include the establishment of nature conservation areas and the rehabilitation of the water supply and sanitation systems in Batumi as part of financial cooperation.

After Georgia gained independence, Germany was the first donor to support the modernisation and expansion of the power transmission grid, enabling Georgia to steadily strengthen its position as a key regional energy hub. As part of the Black Sea Energy Transmission System, to which Germany has made substantial contributions as financial cooperation through the KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW development bank), a substation and a high-voltage direct current overhead transmission line was funded in Akhaltsikhe, enabling electricity to be exported via Georgia to the Turkish-European power grid. The focus in future is to be on projects that lay the foundations for exploiting the potential of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.

Cultural and educational relations

Georgia and Germany enjoy close cultural ties that have developed over centuries (German is the second foreign language at some Georgian schools). There are some 2100 Georgians studying in Germany. In 2017, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awarded 499 Georgian students, graduates and academics a scholarship. 193 Germans received support. There are currently 74 higher education partnerships.

Historically, Germans influenced Georgian architecture and painting and occupied important positions in Georgian public life in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1867, for example, the German geographer and naturalist Gustav Radde founded and became the director of the Caucasian Museum, the forerunner of today’s Georgian National Museum. The name Siemens is also closely associated with Georgia’s history and development.

From 1817 onwards, German immigrants settled in various parts of Georgia. Compared to other countries in the region, the German minority is rather small. In the 2014 census, 438 people identified as German. Their interests are looked after by the Georgian Germans association Einung. The Verein zur Bewahrung des deutschen Kulturguts im Südkaukasus, which was set up in 2013, is seeking to preserve the heritage of German settlers in the region. To fittingly celebrate the 200th anniversary of German immigration to Georgia, along with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Georgia, the two countries’ foreign ministries organised a Germany-Georgia Friendship Year in 2017. Various events presented the culture of the two countries during this time. Another highlight was Georgia’s role as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse - Frankfurt Book Fair in 2018 in which some 180 new translations of Georgian writers were presented true to the motto “Georgia – Made by Characters”.

The town twinning arrangement between Tbilisi and Saarbrücken (the first with a city in the former USSR) forged a bridge between artists and scientists in the two countries in the 1970s. Another active  town twinning arrangement, set up in 1987, is that between Telavi in eastern Georgia and Biberach an der Riss.

Among the most active cultural societies devoted to fostering relations between the two countries are, on the German side, the Berliner Georgische Gesellschaft and the Brandenburg Georgian Society, and on the Georgian side, the Georgian-German Society in Tbilisi, the Georgisch-Deutsche-Zentrum in Kutaisi and the Georgisch-Deutsche-Haus in Zugdidi.

Germany is represented in Georgia with a Goethe-Institut, an office and two lectors of the German Academic Exchange Service (in Tbilisi and Kutaisi), four political foundations (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung) and with seven German teachers made available through the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) working at Georgian schools. More than 30,000 Georgians are learning German. This makes German the third most important foreign language after English and Russian. There are 13 PASCH schools in the country. The Deutsche Internationale Schule Tbilissi, which opened in September 2010, comprises a kindergarten, a pre-school and a primary school, with a further class being added each year.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church has three small parishes in Georgia – in Tbilisi, Bolnisi (formerly Katharinenfeld) and Sukhumi (in the region of Abkhazia) – and is served by a seconded German Bishop.

Disclaimer:

This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.

Additional content

Georgia is a partner country of German development cooperation. For more information please visit the website of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

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