Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has met top officials during an official visit to Bavaria in Germany where leaders are discussing European issues and bilateral ties.
It is Iohannis’ first visit abroad after he was re-elected president in November in a landslide victory against former Prime Minister Viorica Dancila of the Social Democratic Party.
Early Tuesday, Iohannis met the prime minister of Bavaria, Markus Söder , where he said that relations between Romania and Bavaria, Germany’s largest federal state, were “very special.”
“It’s a relationship which has lasted for many years,” said Iohannis, who is a member of Romania’s ethnic German minority.
Hundreds of thousands of Romanians are believed to live in Bavaria, southeast Germany, and they “represent a special bridge” between the communities, Iohannis said.
Speaking in German, the president said it was important for the Romanian and Bavarian governments to meet to boost trade and political ties.
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.
Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria in southern Germany are the two biggest federal regions in Germany in terms of trade with Romania, accounting for almost half of Romania’s imports from Germany and a third of the exports.
Local groups of Romanians say there are 700,000 Romanians in Germany, of which more than half live in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, in southwest Germany.
Iohannis thanked the Bavarian government for its support during Romania’s six-month presidency of the European Union in 2019. Germany will take over the rotating presidency of the bloc later this year.
Iohannis said he and Söder, who is leader of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) discussed Brexit and the EUs multiannual budget during their talks.
Iohannis will take part in a CSU meeting at the Kloster Hotel in the resort of Seeon where he will make joint statements with Alexander Dobrindt, who is president of the CSU’s parliamentary group.
He will later meet Ilse Aigner, the President of the Landtag, or Parliament, of Bavaria since 2018.
Germany is divided into 16 states which are known as federal states and three known as city states. Bavaria is the largest federal state.