The approximately 390,000 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, are key to the very close relations between Germany and Croatia. In addition, over 2.6 million German tourists visit Croatia every year. The two countries also enjoy close relations in the economic sphere and in science and technology. The bilateral Action Plan signed by the two countries’ Foreign Ministers on 7 March 2019 further strengthens relations between Germany and Croatia.
There are regular political visits in both directions, most recently on 18 May 2019, when Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Zagreb for talks with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid an official visit to Croatia from 20 to 22 March 2019. Germany and Croatia also make use of many multilateral meetings, such as those in the European Union’s political bodies, to conduct close exchange.
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 people, academics, students and interested individuals, ensure a lively exchange at all levels. Humanitarian aid measures were also conducted with German support in the past. These included repairing houses destroyed in the war, rebuilding and modernising infrastructure, and clearing mines.
The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Hanns Seidel Foundation all have offices in Zagreb. Other German political foundations also involve Croatia in their projects.
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 2.6 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 420 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.