Bilateral relations are good and wide-ranging. Germany was one of the first countries to officially recognise and establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kosovo after the country declared its independence in February 2008. Furthermore, the Government and people of Kosovo have not forgotten that Germany took in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kosovo before and during the military conflicts of 1998/1999, or that from 1999 onwards it helped with reconstruction efforts, initially through emergency relief measures and shortly afterwards by commencing development cooperation.
The German soldiers (KFOR), police officers, judges, public prosecutors and civilian experts (UNMIK and, since the end of 2008, EULEX) deployed in the country as part of international missions have, through their professionalism and objectivity, helped further strengthen Germany’s positive image in Kosovo.
Germany is considered one of Kosovo’s privileged partners, offering the country long-term support in its efforts towards integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Regular visits to Pristina by members of the Federal Government and German Bundestag underline the importance that Germany attaches to Kosovo’s development – also as a factor for the stability of the region as a whole.
Economic relations and development cooperation
In 2018, according to Kosovar statistics, Germany overtook Serbia as Kosovo’s most important trading partner, a consequence of the tariffs imposed by Kosovo on Serbian products. Federal Statistical Office figures show that Kosovo ranked 112th among Germany’s trading partners in 2018. According to the Federal Statistical Office, German exports to Kosovo in 2018 totalled 235 million euros and imports from Kosovo 26 million euros. However, the Kosovar figures for German exports are very different, putting German exports to Kosovo at 393 million euros and German imports from Kosovo at 25 million euros.
Germany is one of Kosovo’s largest bilateral donors in the field of development cooperation. Since 1999, Germany has provided around 600 million euros for emergency relief measures, humanitarian assistance and technical and financial cooperation projects. 2018 saw new commitments totalling just under 56 million euros (32.1 million euros in financial cooperation and 23.7 million euros in technical cooperation).
Development cooperation focuses on the following areas:
- public administration, democratisation and civil Society
- sustainable economic development and employment generation.
In addition, numerous projects promoting democracy, human and minority rights, peaceful conflict management and the rule of law received a total of 2.147 million euros in funding under the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe in 2018.
The Goethe-Institut does not have an office in Kosovo. Since 2017 Kosovo has been served by the Goethe-Institut in Skopje (before that it was served by the offices in Belgrade and Thessaloniki). The language learning centre (partnered with the Goethe-Institut) which opened in Pristina in May 2013 was converted into a Goethe-Zentrum in February 2018 in response to the constantly growing demand for language courses and the great interest in German culture. In addition, the German Embassy in Pristina handles a substantial portion of the cultural work, including scholarship and further-education programmes as well as events such as concerts and exhibitions. German culture invariably meets with a warm response in Kosovo, as evidenced by the annual Days of the German Language and other cultural events organised by the Embassy. There are also an increasing number of popular initiatives devoted to German culture and the German language. A cultural agreement between Germany and Kosovo entered into force on 14 June 2013, placing the already lively cultural exchange between the two countries on an official footing under international law.
Given the close relations with Germany at all levels, there is tremendous interest in learning German, with demand far outstripping the courses on offer. Along with English, German is the most widely spoken foreign language. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a lector working at the University of Pristina and also Awards scholarships for studies in Germany. As part of the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), four schools receive support from Germany: two offering the German Language Certificate (DSD) of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, and two schools supervised by the Goethe-Institut offering German as a foreign language from the first grade onwards (FIT schools). In cooperation with the German Embassy, Kosovo’s Ministry of Education is seeking to further consolidate the position of German in the curriculum. More is to be done to include German as a second foreign language in the curricula.