Until the late 1980s, Germany’s substantial development assistance was a key element in its relations with Burma (known as Myanmar since 1989). Following the military’s brutal suppression of demonstrations in 1988, cooperation with the country was largely halted.
Myanmar receives support via humanitarian and emergency assistance measures (for example in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and the severe flooding in the summer of 2015). Humanitarian assistance currently concentrates on providing support for internally displaced persons in the Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, where conflicts are ongoing.
Official development cooperation was resumed in summer 2012. During his visit to Myanmar, then Federal President Joachim Gauck signed an agreement on debt relief and rescheduling on 10 February 2014. As of now, official bilateral development cooperation in the priority areas of sustainable economic development and rural development still supports projects involving the provision of funding to small and medium‑sized enterprises, vocational training, sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, and the general promotion of trade and industry. Following a decision taken by the lead Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in spring 2020, official bilateral development cooperation with Myanmar will be ended in the next few years.
Furthermore, six political foundations – the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Konrad‑Adenauer‑Stiftung, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Friedrich‑Ebert‑Stiftung and the Rosa‑Luxemburg‑Stiftung – as well as church‑affiliated and non‑governmental organisations are active in the country.
Academic collaboration, primarily via scholarship programmes and higher education partnerships, is a key component of cultural cooperation.
The Goethe‑Institut in Yangon, which is now housed in a fully restored and renovated prestigious historical building, is the most visible symbol of Germany’s cultural relations policy. This campus is also home to the Deutsche Welle Akademie, which provides training for journalists and works to promote responsible media and internet.
A precious artefact from Myanmarhas, for the first time ever, been presented to the public as a 3D scan: the Golden Letter from King Alaungphaya of Burma to King George II of Great Britain. The project was financed from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office.