Relations between Germany and Croatia are very close. Key to the bilateral relations are the more than 330,000 Croatian nationals who live in Germany (according to Federal Statistical Office figures) as well as the large number of Croats who previously lived in Germany but have since returned to Croatia. In addition, some 2.5 million German tourists visit Croatia every year. The two countries also enjoy close relations in the economic sphere and in science and technology.
There are regular political visits in both directions. The Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković paid a visit to Germany on 12 December 2016, and the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović visited Berlin in March 2015. Bilateral visits at ministerial level have included visits to Zagreb by Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen on 4 October 2017 and then Health Minister Hermann Gröhe on 3 and 4 July 2017. Croatia’s then Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier was in Berlin on 14 December 2016 for political talks. Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Croatia on 30 April 2015, as did the Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth on 16 and 17 January 2017. There are also numerous bilateral contacts at the multilateral level, such as in the European Union’s political bodies.
The Mixed Croatia-Bavaria and Croatia-Baden-Württemberg Commissions meet regularly. Reciprocal visits by German and Croatian parliamentary delegations and by German Minister-Presidents and members of the Länder parliaments as well as regular contacts between civil servants, business representatives, scientists, academics, students and interested individuals, ensure a lively exchange at all levels. In the past, humanitarian aid measures were also conducted with German support. These included repairing houses destroyed in the war, rebuilding and modernising infrastructure and clearing mines.
Economic relations are extremely close. Germany is Croatia’s largest trading partner, followed by Italy, Slovenia and Austria. Among foreign direct investors in Croatia, Germany ranks fourth, after the Netherlands, Austria and Italy. In addition to major investments by German firms including DAX-listed companies, numerous small and medium-sized German companies have set up subsidiaries in Croatia. With 2.5 million holidaymakers visiting Croatia every year, Germany makes up the largest group of tourists.
A reciprocal investment protection agreement entered into force in August 2000 and a double taxation agreement in December 2006.
The German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which has about 400 registered member companies, has been operating in Croatia since 2003. Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) also has an office in Zagreb.
Bilateral cultural cooperation is based on the German-Croatian cultural agreement of 26 August 1994, which entered into force on 23 January 1998. Priority areas of cooperation are promoting mobility in science and higher education and maintaining and strengthening the prominent role of the German language in the Croatian education system (almost 30 percent of all pupils at Croatian schools learn German as their first or second foreign language). The principal cultural intermediaries active in Croatia are the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA). The ZfA has a coordinator in the country who is responsible for the German Language Certificate (DSD) as well as eight programme teachers at Croatian grammar schools. The Deutsche Internationale Schule Zagreb (DISZ) was founded in 2004. It provides instruction from kindergarten to the German higher education entrance qualification (Abitur) and, as part of the Eurocampus, cooperates closely with the École Française de Zagreb.
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