DIPLOMATIC HISTORY WITH SWITZERLAND
The history of two countries relations, at the head of States level, goes to almost a century ago.
His Majesty King Amanullah Khan, the reformist monarch of Afghanistan had paid an official visit to Switzerland in 1928 and along with H. E. M.Schultess, President of the Swiss Confederation, established a diplomatic relations with the Government of Switzerland for the first time. The two governments concluded a treaty of friendship and regulated rights of settlement and residence. However, political and economic relations in the following decades remained low-key. By contrast, the foundation of the Bibliotheca Afghanica in Liestal (BL) in 1975 in Swtizerland testifies to a strong interest in Afghan culture and until 1979, both countries maintained mutually cordial and in friendly relationship.
H.M. King Amanullah Khan & H.E.M.Schultess, President of the Swiss Confederation
1928 Bern, Switzerland
Both Afghanistan and Switzerland being Parties to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, they had signed an agreement related to the scheduled Air Services on the 7th of December 1944.
In 1979, when the Soviet troops came to Afghanistan, the Switzerland Federal Council expressed its concern. At the same time it supported the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for war victims in Afghanistan. However, in 1980s, Switzerland played a crucial role when International Peace Talks on Afghanistan were organized by the United Nations among the USSR and Pakistan.
In mid 1990s, when the Taliban came to power, Switzerland did not sever diplomatic relations with the new government. In 2000, Switzerland adopted the United Nations sanctions against the Taliban government but continued to finance humanitarian projects to alleviate the distress of the population. In 2001, the Taliban government fell and Switzerland immediately increased its humanitarian commitment. In 2002, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation opened a coordination office in Kabul, which reports to Swiss Embassy in Islamabad. The Federal Council also decided that Swiss troops would participate in the UN mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan.
In October 2006, a Tripartite Agreement was signed between the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Swiss Federal Council.
Switzerland's work in development cooperation, in the last couple of years, is focused on a long-term civilian program through which it supports specific projects in various parts of the country. Since 2011, Switzerland has been a member of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan and Pakistan (ICG). The ICG, which brings together the political leaders of Afghanistan's and Pakistan's major partner countries, is focusing its activities on Afghanistan.
Swiss investments in Afghanistan is very limited. The volume of bilateral trade is modest. In 2014, Switzerland's imports from Afghanistan stood at CHF 0.1 million and its exports to the country amounted to CHF 7.3 million.
The objectives of Switzerland's cooperation strategy in Afghanistan (2015–2018) are to support the sub-national institutions, contribute to good governance, promote respect for human rights as well as the inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development of the country. Switzerland supports specific projects in the north-east, the central highlands and the south-east of Afghanistan and participates, in collaboration with other donors, in establishing state institutions. Swiss humanitarian aid is focused on the reintegration and protection of refugees and internally displaced persons and it accordingly contributes financially to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the ICRC. The aid is also focused on preventing food shortages, in particular those caused by natural disasters. The cooperation strategy (2015–2018) provides for a progressive increase in Switzerland's commitment to CHF 29 million per year.
In the recent years, two rounds of political consultations held between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Swiss Confederation. The first round took place in Kabul on the 25th March 2016, and a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral consultation was signed between the Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, in which both countries reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral relations in the pursuit of common goals. The second round of the political consultation took place in Bern on the 8th May 2018. The political consultations are planned to held every two years.
In October 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Afghanistan International Business Chamber of Commerce and the Swiss-Central Asia Joint Chamber of Commerce in Zurich, Switzerland. This Memorandum is an excellent opportunity for organizations in Afghanistan and Switzerland to work together toward investment and trade.
In November 2018, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the UN co-host the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan. The goal of the meeting would be to show the solidarity of the international community with the Afghan people and the government in their efforts for peace and prosperity; and for the Afghanistan government to renew its commitment to development and reform. It would be an occasion to highlight Afghanistan’s continuing development despite fragility and insecurity. The occasion would also provide an opportunity to convey a message about the critical role of development to peace-building, and the international community’s contribution in this regard.