During a one-day visit to Bavaria this week, President Klaus Iohannis described the large Romanian community there as “a special bridge” between Romania and Germany.
After Iohannis ended his visit where he discussed European Union’s multiannual budget, Brexit and Schengen, he took part in a celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of the Michael Schmidt Foundation.
The foundation, which was created by Romanian-born entrepreneur Michael Schmidt, funds conservation, education and cultural projects in ethnic German communities in Transylvania . It also promotes cooperation between Romania and Germany.
Germany was Romania’s biggest international trade partner in 2018, the last figures released, with 32.5 billion euros, or over 20% of Romania’s foreign trade, according to data published by the Romanian-German Chamber of Commerce – AHK Romania.
Foundation president, Michael Schmidt and his wife, Veronica Schmidt who is the foundation’s deputy chairman, hosted a dinner attended by Iohannis, who is an ethnic German, Florian Herrmann, the head of the State Chancellery and state minister for federal and European affairs and the media.
Bernd Fabritius, the German Federal Government’s Commissioner for Matters Related to Ethnic German Resettlers and National Minorities and Romania’s ambassador to Germany, Emil Hurezeanu were among the guests.
The foundation said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that the “backing received from such personalities honors us and motivates us to continue working in the same rhythm to bring the multiculturalism which Romanian society continues to demonstrate,” it supports.
In the interwar period, ethnic Germans, made up 4 percent of the population. There are now just 36,000.
However, their presence remains strong in Transylvania through their fortified churches which are UNESCO heritage sites. Thousands emigrated to Germany during the communist era under a scheme where the German state paid a sum to Romania. Many emigrated after communism ended, but still own property and return every year.