Last updated in March 2018
German-Czech relations are very close and marked by high-level contacts. These close ties are reinforced by frequent two-way visits by high-ranking government officials; the most recent such visit was that by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Prague in September 2017.
The key cornerstones of German-Czech relations are the Treaty on Good Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation of 27 February 1992 and the German-Czech Declaration on Mutual Relations and their Future Development of 21 January 1997. The essence of the latter is the undertaking by both sides to advance German-Czech relations in a spirit of good neighbourliness and partnership and disencumber them from political and legal issues stemming from the past. On its 20th anniversary, Czechia’s then Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed a joint declaration reaffirming the spirit of the German-Czech Declaration.
The Czech and German Foreign Ministers signed an agreement in 2015 to intensify cooperation between the two countries, both bilaterally and at the European policy level, as part of a strategic dialogue. Nine working groups are to engage in intensive cross-sectoral dialogue in key areas to further enhance mutual trust and deepen the exchange of information and coordination between the two Governments. The inclusive, partnership-based approach also enables the two countries’ parliaments, federal states and regional authorities, civil society actors as well as existing bilateral discussion forums to participate in and enrich the dialogue.
The Länder Bavaria and Saxony play a particularly central role in further developing and strengthening German-Czech relations. Saxony maintains a liaison office, and Bavaria has a representative office in Prague.
Bilateral cooperation is also very close on the economic front, but the two countries have differing views on the role that nuclear power and renewable energies should play in supplying energy needs.
Cooperation is especially deep-rooted on foreign and European policy. Czechia and Germany work together intensively on foreign policy issues such as the Balkans, European Neighbourhood Policy, energy security and the protection of human rights. As part of the strategic dialogue, a platform was created for discussing and coordinating issues relating to the future of the European Union as well as refugee issues.
There are currently differences of opinion between the two countries on some aspects of refugee policy, in particular regarding mandatory distribution mechanisms. Germany and Czechia are working hard to find more common ground in order to reach pan-European solutions based on shared values, solidarity and responsibility. They also exchange experience bilaterally on issues such as integration.
Cultural exchange at all levels is wide-ranging, intensive and successful, also in the case of projects conducted without state involvement.
The German-Czech Future Fund and the German-Czech Discussion Forum
The German-Czech Future Fund (www.zukunftsfonds.cz) is a Prague-based foundation, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1997 with the German-Czech Declaration. The Future Fund supports non-profit mutual exchange projects in the areas of youth, culture, education, minorities, dialogue forums and publications. Since 1998, the Future Fund has provided a total of more than 57 million euros to finance more than 10,300 projects in areas relating to culture, education, youth, history and social affairs. Further funding of 35 million euros was agreed for the period 2017-2027.
The German-Czech Future Fund is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018. With the theme “What Future Do We Want? German-Czech Reflections”, the Future Fund is devoting its anniversary year to a reflection on what has been achieved so far and a discussion on the future of German-Czech relations in a changing world.
In 2017, the Future Fund supported the German-Czech Cultural Spring, which marked the 20th anniversary of the German-Czech Declaration.
The Fund is also used to finance the German-Czech Discussion Forum. At its annual conferences, the Forum addresses current issues in bilateral relations as part of the two countries’ partnership in the European Union. The annual conferences are held alternately in Germany and Czechia. In 2018, it is Czechia’s turn to host the conference.
Since 2001, the German-Czech Discussion Forum has also included the German-Czech Youth Forum, in which 20 young people from each of the two countries develop and carry out projects relating to bilateral issues.
Judicial and police cooperation
There is intensive cooperation in the judicial and police sectors. An agreement on cooperation between police authorities and border protection authorities made it possible, as early as 2003, to take transnational actions such as joint German-Czech border control.
The Joint Centre of German-Czech Police and Customs Cooperation commenced operation in Schwandorf and Petrovice in late 2007. It brings together the technical and language skills of the participating police and customs authorities, and is available round the clock to provide services relating to border-area cooperation. With some 100 staff members, the Joint Centre is today the largest institution of its kind in Europe and the only one with two bureaus.
Since internal air border controls were abolished in 2008, the Schengen regulations apply in full to Czechia. This means that the measures laid down in the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement (CISA) relating to requests for mutual assistance in police matters, cross-border surveillance and hot pursuit (cross-border pursuit of suspected persons) have been applicable bilaterally since 2008.
As part of the Hof Dialogue between the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Czech Ministry of the Interior, a ministerial working group and sub-working groups were set up in February 2013 to address the following issues: combating drug crime (crystal meth), amending/updating of the existing German-Czech police agreement and cooperating through the Joint Analysis and Strategy Centre for Illegal Migration (GASIM) and the Analytical Centre for Protection of State Borders and Migration (ANACEN), which is now being continued within the framework of the German-Czech High-Level Ministerial Working Group on Security Issues.
To further deepen cross-border police cooperation between the two countries and align it better to bilateral relations, a German-Czech police agreement entered into force on 1 October 2016. This agreement establishes a comprehensive intergovernmental basis for police and customs cooperation. The supplementary bilateral agreement to the European Mutual Assistance Convention continues to govern matters relating to judicial legal assistance in criminal cases; however the new police agreement modifies and supplements some existing provisions.
On 4 April 2013, the two countries signed an agreement on the deployment of emergency medical services in the neighbouring country. Saxony and Bavaria played a central role in putting together the agreement.
Bilateral military relations are good. There are several agreements between the two countries’ Defence Ministries that form the basis for long-term military cooperation at bilateral and international level. The close relations here are reflected in the regular two-way visits and consultations at the level of Defence Minister and State Secretaries. There has also been a marked intensification of dialogue at the military leadership level. In addition, there are numerous regular contacts between agencies of the armed forces, also as part of the strategic dialogue between the two countries.
Czechia sees Germany as a strategic partner on security and defence issues. This is underscored not least by Czechia’s participation in the Multinational Joint Headquarters in Ulm and the German-Netherlands Corps Headquarters in Münster as well as by its increased number of staff at the Multinational Corps Northeast in the Polish city of Szczecin.
Czechia is also actively participating in NATO’s Framework Nation Concept, which was initiated by Germany. The main component here is the declaration of intent signed by the two countries’ Defence Ministers in February 2017. It provides for Czechia’s 4th Rapid Deployable Brigade working closely with Germany’s 10th Armoured Division. Implementation of this plan will not affect national reporting lines of the participating units or national political discretion. Such cooperation will, in particular, increase the interoperability of the armed forces, while also helping to build up large jointly manned units that provide NATO with credible deterrence and defence capabilities.
In September 2016, at the annual NATO Days in Ostrava, Germany presented itself as a Special Partner Nation with the participation of the Federal Armed Forces, the German police and customs authorities, the German Red Cross and the Federal Agency for Technical Relief.
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.