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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Afghanistan
The overriding element in relations between the two countries is Switzerland’s humanitarian and development-policy commitment in Afghanistan. Switzerland has undertaken a long-term commitment for development and reconstruction in the country. Political and economic contacts are marginal.
In the field of development, Switzerland has entered into a long-term civil commitment. Its priority topics include governance, human rights, socio-economic development and improving living conditions for the poor.
Afghanistan is an agricultural county, and farming is of great importance to it. The trade volume is low and depends on international aid. Swiss investments are very low.
The activities of humanitarian aid are concentrating on the most urgent needs of particularly vulnerable population groups, such as internally displaced persons, returnees to Afghanistan and refugees in the neighbouring countries of Iran and Pakistan. The programme of development cooperation is concentrating on good governance, respect of human rights and improving the living conditions of disadvantaged population groups.
Humanitarian aid is directed, on the one hand, at the reintegration and protection of refugees and internally displaced persons. Switzerland makes contributions for this purpose to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The measures also focus, on the other hand, on disaster relief and the prevention of food shortages, droughts and flooding.
Scholars and artists from Afghanistan can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
In 2012, there were 52 Swiss nationals living in Afghanistan.
In 1917, Afghanistan became independent, and the British protectorate came to an end. Switzerland recognised Afghanistan in 1922, and diplomatic relations were established in 1928. Political and economic contacts remained modest.
The Federal Council expressed its concern when Soviet troops marched into Afghanistan in 1979. Switzerland maintained diplomatic relations with the government put in power by the Soviet Union and supported the work of the ICRC to assist the war victims.
Switzerland continued diplomatic relations after the Taliban took power, but did not maintain official contacts with the new government. In 2000, it joined in the UN sanctions against the Taliban regime, but continued to finance projects to alleviate the distress of the population.
Following the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, Switzerland reinforced its humanitarian commitment and opened a coordination office in Kabul.