Key aspects of bilateral relations include the political development of the Republic of North Macedonia following independence, Germany’s role as the country’s leading cooperation partner and the close personal ties forged by the approximately 100,000 North Macedonian nationals living in Germany. A cornerstone of German policy towards North Macedonia is supporting the country’s integration into European structures and the reforms needed to this end, above all in the field of the rule of law.
There are numerous cooperation programmes and projects being implemented with the country’s Government and civil society, for example through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ) and the Civil Peace Service (CPS). The Federal Foreign Office supports several cooperation programmes and projects, primarily using Stability Pact funds.
Development cooperation focuses on environmentally friendly infrastructure projects (especially hydroelectric power and wind energy, water supply, waste management and nature conservation), strengthening social infrastructure through municipal projects and supporting the development of a market economy, in particular by promoting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), modernising agriculture and aligning legislation with EU standards.
Germany is the Republic of North Macedonia’s most important trading partner. Germany remains its main export market, with roughly 50 percent of the country’s goods exports going to Germany, while also accounting for the largest share of the country’s imports. More than 200 companies with German capital operate in North Macedonia, employing some 20,000 people.
Cultural relations are multifaceted. For the past several years, the German Embassy in Skopje has organised a film festival and screened new German films in cities throughout the country. In coordination with the Goethe-Institut, it supports exchange with German artists, organises exhibitions and concerts and, as part of Franco-German cultural cooperation in third countries, conducts projects together with the French Embassy, the Institut Français and the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO).
On account of the country’s wide-ranging political and economic relations with Germany, there is considerable interest in the German language. There has been a positive trend as regards learning German as a foreign language. German is now the second-most-studied foreign language in North Macedonia after English.