Germany established diplomatic relations with Latvia on 28 August 1991, soon after the country regained its independence on 21 August 1991.
Bilateral relations are close and friendly. Germany has supported Latvia on its path to joining the European Union and Euro‑Atlantic structures and has helped the country to reform its economy, administration and judiciary.
Latvia’s relations with Germany have taken on a new quality through the country’s accession to the EU and NATO in April and May 2004, respectively. Latvia has also been a member of the Schengen area since 2008 and part of the eurozone since 1 January 2014.
The Latvian side officially describes Germany as a “strategic partner and ally in Europe”.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Latvia in August 2014. Former Federal President Gauck paid a state visit to the country in summer 2013, and in February 2017 his last overseas trip as Germany’s Head of State took him to Latvia. Federal President Steinmeier also visited Latvia on one of his first trips in August 2017 and again in September 2018. In his capacity as Foreign Minister, Steinmeier visited Latvia a total of seven times, most recently in May and September 2016. Latvia’s President Vējonis was in Germany for a five‑day state visit in February 2019 travelling to Berlin, Hamburg and Lüneburg. Foreign Minister Maas met his Latvian colleague Rinkevics for talks in Berlin in February 2019. Federal Chancellor Merkel welcomed Prime Minister Karins on his first official visit in March. On 17 April 2015, the Foreign Ministers of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Latvia published a joint statement expressing the two countries’ intention to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
Germany remains one of Latvia’s principal trading partners. In 2017, Germany accounted for 11.3% of Latvian imports, putting Germany in second place among the country’s suppliers. Of Latvian exports, 7.3% went to Germany, which ranked fourth among buyers of Latvian goods. Germany is also among the leading direct investors in Latvia. Major investors include E.ON Ruhrgas AG, Ergo International AG (Insurances), Gebr. Knauf Verwaltungsgesellschaft and Glasseiden Oschatz GmbH.
Some 1200 companies with German capital interest are active in Latvia, mainly in the metal processing, service and commercial sectors. The German‑Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania offers German businesses a direct contact partner in Riga. Germany is also a priority partner of Latvia in vocational training and through the Chamber of Commerce provides the Latvian Government with expertise in this area.
Bilateral agreements have been concluded on the protection and promotion of investments (April 1993), air, sea and road transport (April 1993) and avoidance of double taxation (February 1997).
Cultural relations between Latvia and Germany are very close. For historical reasons, the German language is (still) widely used in the country. There is a lively exchange of cultural workers, scientists, academics, university and school students between the two countries. Latvian choirs, theatre and dance companies, painters, writers and others engaged in culture maintain intensive ties with Germany, as do their German counterparts with Latvia. Prominent Latvian artists (conductors, musicians, singers) are active in Germany. As host of the World Choir Games and as the European Capital of Culture 2014, Riga enjoyed a particularly high international profile.
An important element in the wide‑ranging cultural relations between the two countries are the numerous lively twinning arrangements between German and Latvian cities and municipalities and the partnerships between higher education institutions and schools as well as other cultural and social institutions.
In 2018, Latvia celebrated the centenary of its independence. Germany participated in the festivities with larger projects (exhibition of the “United Buddy Bears” on Domplatz, Baltic tour of the Berliner Konzerthausorchester).