Last updated in October 2017
German-Slovak relations have traditionally been friendly. They are based on the Treaty on Good Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (CSFR) of27 February 1992, which the Slovak Republic, as one of the successor states to the CSFR, recognised as binding. Relations between the two countries are no longer marred by problems relating to the first Slovak state (1939-1944) headed by Jozef Tiso under the “protection” of Nazi Germany, the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising by German troops in 1944 and the flight and expulsion of the Carpathian Germans. As early as 1991, a declaration issued by the Slovak National Council helped advance the development of a joint perspective on these difficult chapters in the countries’ shared history.
Germany and Slovakia are close partners in the European Union and NATO, both of which Slovakia joined in 2004. The quality of bilateral relations is demonstrated by the frequency of high-level visits in both directions. In October 2014, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel was awarded an honorary doctorate by Comenius University in Bratislava. Every year, numerous representatives of the German Government, the Bundestag and Germany’s regional governments and parliaments visit Slovakia. Such visits were particularly frequent during Slovakia’s first Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2016. On 3 October 2016, Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier celebrated the Day of German Unity with his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajčák in Bratislava.
In 2018, Germany and Slovakia will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations. To mark this occasion, an enhanced dialogue between the two countries was launched on 4 August 2017. On that day, Slovak Foreign Minister Lajčák met with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Wolfsburg. The aim of the enhanced dialogue is to intensify bilateral relations.
As in previous years, Germany remained Slovakia’s most important trading partner in 2016 in terms of both exports and imports. A total of around 500 German companies have made investments in the Slovak Republic since its foundation in 1993, creating around 100,000 jobs. This means that Germany is one of the principal foreign direct investors in Slovakia. The German-Slovak Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Bratislava, which was founded in 2005, now has more than 400 members. Since 2015, Volkswagen Slovakia has been the country’s largest private-sector employer.
Cultural and societal relations between Germany and Slovakia are close and extremely diverse. There is a lively exchange in all areas of culture, through official institutions, private foundations and private contacts. German cultural intermediaries – such as the Goethe-Institut, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) – are involved in numerous activities in Slovakia as part of Germany’s cultural relations and education policy. The legal basis for these activities is provided by the German-Slovak cultural cooperation agreement of 1 May 1997, as well as the Treaty of 1992 referred to above.
German is the second most important foreign language taught in Slovak schools after English, and as such is a cornerstone for the close relations between the two countries. Some 38 schools in Slovakia belong to the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), and thus receive support from Germany. The Deutsche Schule Bratislava (DSB), which opened in 2005, is the flagship institution – pupils here can study for both the German and the Slovak higher education entrance qualifications. The German Abitur can likewise be obtained at the grammar school in Poprad (a “German profile school”). At present, there are 34 schools in Slovakia where pupils can sit the tests for the German Language Certificate.
Another bridge between the two countries is the Carpathian German minority in Slovakia. In a national survey conducted in 2011, approximately 4700 Slovaks said they belonged to the German minority. This means that the group is still only a fraction of its pre-war size. The German minority is well integrated in cultural, social and economic terms, and is generally respected. The declaration issued by the Slovak National Council on 12 February 1991 marked a historic step in the process of reconciliation; it expressed regret for the injustices done in connection with the expulsions in the aftermath of the Second World War. The Federal Republic of Germany supports the Carpathian Germans in their cultural, educational and community-building activities.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.