Last updated in April 2018
Germany is very keen to see a stable, democratic and prosperous Ukraine. The German Government is assisting Ukraine’s transition to a market economy and its efforts to move closer to European structures. In the wake of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in contravention of international law and in light of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine that has claimed large numbers of victims, Germany is seeking to reach a peaceful settlement of the crisis in close cooperation with its European and international partners, especially within the framework of what is known as the Normandy format (comprising Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia). Germany supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and does not recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Germany and Ukraine maintain close political dialogue. Germany’s then Federal President Joachim Gauck attended the inauguration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on 7 June 2014 and travelled to Kyiv again in September 2016. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel last received President Poroshenko in Berlin on 3 January 2017. Germany’s then Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin have regularly visited the other country. Foreign Minister Klimkin most recently visited Berlin in October 2017.
Germany’s federal states, cities and municipalities, as well as universities and schools, private associations and individuals, also feature prominently in bilateral relations. Under the German Bundestag’s International Parliamentary Scholarship (IPS) programme and the High Level Experts Programme of the Federal Foreign Office and the German Embassy in Kyiv, young Ukrainian professionals visit Berlin each year to complete an internship at the German Bundestag, Federal Foreign Office or other institutions.
Following dramatic economic downturns in 2014 and 2015 – caused in large part by the continued fighting in the east of the country – Ukraine’s economy stabilised in 2016 and has grown modestly since then. It posted GDP growth of over two percent in both 2016 and 2017. If a durable end to the military conflict in eastern Ukraine is found and the country’s economic reform agenda – supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union and other international actors – is implemented, Ukraine has a good chance of achieving continuous growth in the future (forecasts for 2018 and 2019 predict growth of approximately 3.5 percent), though considerable risks still remain (including a temporary deterioration in the terms of trade as a result of falling prices for Ukrainian export goods, Russian economic measures against Ukraine, political uncertainty, corruption, lack of legal certainty and risks within the country’s banking system, as well as recent bottlenecks in the supply of energy and raw materials caused by a blockade of transport routes and “collateral damage” caused by US trade policy on matters such as steel exports). The German Government is supporting Ukraine’s economic development in a variety of ways, including the provision of an untied loan guarantee to the tune of 500 million euros.
Germany is one of Ukraine’s most important trading and investment partners. It is not only the second largest supplier of Ukrainian imports and a key market for Ukrainian exports, but also one of the biggest sources of foreign investment in Ukraine. Ukraine still runs a significant deficit in its trade with Germany, though this has been trending downwards since 2014. Germany’s main exports to Ukraine are machinery, motor vehicles, chemical and pharmaceutical products, electrical goods, foodstuffs and animal feed. Ukraine’s main exports to Germany are textile, clothes, metals, chemical and agricultural products.
More than 1000 German companies are estimated to have a presence in Ukraine. In addition to the services provided by the German Embassy, their interests are looked after by the German Chamber of Commerce Abroad (AHK) established in Kyiv in October 2016, the local representative of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK).
Acting on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the German Advisory Group advises the Ukrainian Government on questions of economic and social policy. Since 2005, questions relating to bilateral economic relations have been discussed by the German-Ukrainian High-Level Working Group on Economic Issues.
Since 2002, Germany has been helping Ukraine to build a democratic state based on the rule of law and to establish market economy structures. Germany has increased its support considerably since 2014. In 2015, 2016 and 2017 alone, Germany pledged more than 300 million euros for financial and technical cooperation, as well as for emergency and transitional aid. In 2016, it provided total contributions of 86.5 million euros. German support focuses on the areas of energy efficiency, sustainable economic development and good governance/decentralisation. Germany is also cooperating with Ukraine in the areas of sustainable agriculture and the environment (climate protection and urban development).
Judiciary and human rights
For many years now, Germany has supported Ukraine’s efforts to build a sound and stable state based on the rule of law and the European model. To this end, the German Government is funding legal advisory projects in Ukraine. An important player in this regard is the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ), which commenced work in the country back in 1991. Cooperation currently focuses on constitutional, administrative and criminal law, as well as judicial reform and fighting corruption.
In addition, Germany is actively involved on a regular basis in multilateral projects such as those conducted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The focus here is on administrative and commercial law.
Finally, the Federal Foreign Office supports human rights projects in Ukraine, which are implemented by Ukrainian non-governmental organisations.
Culture and education
A German-Ukrainian Agreement on Cultural Cooperation was concluded in 1993. In the same year, the Goethe-Institut opened in Kyiv, whose network now includes German Reading Rooms, language-learning and teaching-material centres and libraries offering inter-library loan services in all regions of the country. The Goethe-Institut also oversees three German-Ukrainian cultural associations in Odessa, Kharkiv and Chernivtsi. As part of the Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) initiative, some 40 Ukrainian schools (DSD and FIT schools) and the Deutsche Schule Kiew receive assistance in establishing and developing their German language teaching. The Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) and the Goethe-Institut cooperate closely to this end.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) opened an office in Kyiv in 1998, and an agreement on academic cooperation was also concluded in the same year. A large number of German “programme teachers” (teachers working under special central government and federal state programmes), lectors and language assistants are working at schools and universities in Ukraine. Demand for German language teaching – both in and outside schools – remains strong, as does the interest in DAAD scholarships. The number of German learners is constant or on the increase. More than 9000 Ukrainians are currently studying at German universities, and around 1500 Ukrainian students are awarded DAAD grants and scholarships each year. There are more than 160 university partnerships between the two countries. In addition, there are numerous school partnerships and town twinning arrangements. German-speaking Ukrainian and Ukrainian-born writers in particular are a prominent and integral part of the bilateral cultural landscape.
The most recent census (2001) put the number of people in Ukraine classifying themselves as belonging to the German minority at approximately 33,000. Most of them are the descendants of German emigrants who settled in what was then the Russian Empire from the end of the 18th century onwards. They have established various groups and associations, and many are active members of Evangelical Lutheran congregations, some of which are served by clergy seconded from Germany. Since December 2004, all the organisations and associations of the German minority have been united under the umbrella of the Rat der Deutschen der Ukraine (Council of Germans in Ukraine).
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.