Germany and Serbia: Bilateral relations
Bilateral relations are close. German policy towards Serbia focuses on providing support for political and economic reform in the country. The aims are to further the process of democratic change, to promote the rule of law in Serbia and to achieve progress in the country’s EU accession process.
Serbia and Germany have different positions on Kosovo’s independence, which is recognised by Germany.
Germany is a key partner of Serbia in the EU. In addition, there are close ties between Germany and Serbia on account of the large number of Serbs and people of Serbian origin residing permanently in Germany. Different estimates put the total number of people of Serbian descent currently living in Germany at between 400,000 and 800,000.
Germany has been one of Serbia’s main economic partners for years. More than 900 companies with German capital employ some 79,000 people. The German-Serbian Business Association has over 400 member companies.
The overarching goal of development cooperation with Serbia is to provide support with reforms for EU accession. Since October 2021, the focus has been on implementing the green agenda, specifically on developing renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency as well as transforming the economy in a socially just and economically viable manner. To this end, Germany has agreed a strategic climate partnership with Serbia and the Western Balkans region. Other issues include vocational education and training, support of the Serbian private sector and good governance. Since 2000, the German Government has provided approximately 2.3 billion euro for all these issues, making Germany the largest bilateral donor.
Cultural life in Serbia is rich and wide-ranging, and cultural cooperation with Germany is close. The Goethe-Institut Belgrade offers an extensive and highly attractive programme, with well-attended events such as exhibitions, lectures, concerts and plays and a great demand for German language classes. German is firmly established as the second most popular foreign language after English and is learned by almost half of pupils.
The small remaining German minority (known as Danube Swabians), of which there are 4064 members registered in the group’s National Council according to the 2011 census, has 14 cultural associations. With more than 750 members, St. Gerhard in Sombor is the largest association.
Information about German development cooperation with Serbia can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.