Slovakia: Bilateral Relations Slovakia

12.04.2019 - Article

Political relations

Germany and Slovakia enjoy close and friendly relations. They are based on the Treaty on Good‑neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, dating from 27 February 1992, which was recognised by the Slovak Republic as one of the successor states to the CSFR. Relations between the two countries are no longer marred by problems relating to the first Slovak state (1939‑44) 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 parliament 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 in NATO, which Slovakia joined in 2004. The quality of bilateral relations is evidenced by the frequency of high‑level visits in both directions. In 2019, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel was presented with the Order of the White Double Cross of the Slovak Republic at an award ceremony in Bratislava. Every year, numerous representatives of the Federal Government, the German Bundestag and Germany’s regional governments and parliaments visit Slovakia. Most recently, the Federal Chancellor participated in the summit of the Visegrad Group countries in February 2019. At the summit, she also met with Prime Minister Pellegrini and President Kiska.

In 2018, Germany and Slovakia celebrated 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 and his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel signed a joint declaration for this purpose in Wolfsburg. The aim of the enhanced dialogue is to intensify bilateral relations. In November 2018, the two Foreign Ministers signed a joint work programme in which ten German Federal Ministries pledge to intensify their relations with the Slovak Government.

Economic Relations

As in previous years, Germany remained Slovakia’s most important trading partner in 2018 in terms of both exports and imports. Some 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 relations

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 – are involved in numerous activities in Slovakia as part of Germany’s cultural relations and education policy. The legal basis for all this 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. 38 schools in Slovakia belong to the Schools: Partners for the Future network supported by Germany. The German School 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 also sit the tests for the German Language Certificate.

Another bridge between the two countries is formed by the Carpathian German minority in Slovakia. In a national survey conducted in 2011, some 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 Slovak Parliament’s Declaration of 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 World War II. 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.  

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