Relations between Timor‑Leste and Germany are cordial and untroubled. Since the UN Transitional Administration of 1999, Timor‑Leste has received extensive assistance from Germany for nation‑building. After achieving independence on 20 May 2002, Timor‑Leste was recognised by Germany under international law. Timor‑Leste supports German efforts to reform the United Nations.
The Ambassador of Timor‑Leste in Brussels is also accredited to Germany; there is an Honorary Consul for Timor‑Leste in Berlin as well. The German Embassy in Jakarta is responsible for nurturing relations with Timor‑Leste (Ambassador also has double accreditation).
Bilateral trade was very low in 2018 totalling 2.4 million euros, representing once more a drop compared to the 2017 figure of 5.7 million euros (2016: 1.5 million euros). Timor‑Leste’s exports to Germany (mainly coffee, 937,200 kg) totalled 2 million euros compared to imports from Germany worth 400,000 euros (2018).
Timor‑Leste is a functioning democracy. Free and fair elections are guaranteed, as are human rights.
German development cooperation focuses on promoting peace and security, in particular by helping create economic prospects for young people and promoting non‑violent conflict resolution. Since Timor‑Leste gained its independence, Germany has pledged some 67 million euros.
Building transport infrastructure to connect rural regions with the country’s capital and coastal areas remains a key prerequisite for the country’s future development. Germany and Timor‑Leste are cooperating here above all in the maritime transport sector. The German‑funded passenger and freight ferry Berlin Nakroma is so far the country’s principal and most affordable domestic maritime connection. It connects the capital Dili with Atauro Island and Oecusse District, an enclave in Indonesian territory. This programme includes supporting harbour operations and training seaman. Preparations are underway to establish another ferry connection using a second German‑funded ferry on the country’s north coast. The second ferry is currently under construction.
Bilateral engagement in the country – in some cases supported by Federal Government funding – is complemented by the contributions of churches, political foundations and other non‑governmental organisations.
In cooperation with the Timor‑Leste Ministry of Culture and UNESCO, Germany has helped to set up a film archive with funds from its Cultural Preservation Programme.
In 2015, Germany provided help to UNESCO to preserve rock art in the Nino Konis Santana National Park.
In view of the poor training conditions for many of Timor‑Leste’s journalists, Germany has since 2007 invited several of them to attend further‑education seminars in Germany and Indonesia conducted by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and the GIZ.
Since 2002, a large number of students from Timor‑Leste (who were, however, enrolled in universities in Indonesia) have been invited to study in Germany on German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships.
An EU film festival has been held in Dili every December since 2008. Besides Germany, many other EU member countries are regular participants.