Germany, Bhutan establish full-fledged diplomatic ties

Bhutan and Germany established full-fledged diplomatic relations on Wednesday during a ceremony held in the Bhutanese mission in New Delhi.

The two sides have had consular relations since July 2000, and Germany’s envoy to India, Walter Lindner, and Bhutanese ambassador, V Namgyel, exchanged notes verbale on the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Bhutan now has diplomatic relations with 53 countries and the European Union. However, there are no immediate plans for Bhutan and Germany to open embassies in each other’s capitals.

Bhutan’s capital Thimphu hosts only three foreign missions – those of India, Bangladesh and Kuwait.

The Indian side welcomed the development, and people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that the proposal on full-fledged diplomatic ties had been in the pipeline for some time.

“We have noted that Bhutan and Germany have established formal diplomatic relations through their embassies in New Delhi. Germany is an important development partner of Bhutan. This is a further step on that path,” one of the people cited above said.

The German foreign ministry said the country’s ambassador in New Delhi will be accredited for Bhutan too, and maintain relations from across the border. Bhutan’s embassy in New Delhi is a “connection [that] has been used for dialogue with Germany in the past”, it said.

“With the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries will now be able to collaborate more closely than ever before,” the German foreign ministry added.

During Wednesday’s ceremony, Lindner and Namgyal exchanged views on mutual cooperation and expressed the desire of their governments to work closely in areas of mutual benefit, Bhutan’s foreign ministry said. The two ambassadors also “expressed the desire to further deepen the friendship and cooperation between the two countries”, it said.

Petra Sigmund, director general for Asia and Pacific in the German foreign ministry, said Bhutan and Germany share democratic values, support a rules-based international order and are already cooperating in areas such as climate change and environment.

“Establishing full-fledged diplomatic relations between our two countries is a logical step which will help us to intensify our cooperation across the board,” she said.

Even in absence of full-fledged diplomatic ties, Germany has supported Bhutan’s socio-economic development since the 1970s. Bhutan also receives support from the European Union (EU), with Germany being the largest contributor to the grouping’s budget.

As part of domestic reforms introduced by late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who ruled from 1952 to 1972, Bhutan gradually established relations with a small number of countries and joined the UN in 1971.

Official bilateral contacts between Berlin and Thimphu were maintained through the German embassy in New Delhi and the Bhutanese mission in Brussels. Both countries also have honorary consuls.

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