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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Cyprus
At the centre of the many areas of cooperation are peace-building, economic, scientific and cultural contacts, and projects related to the EU enlargement contribution.
Switzerland and Cyprus have a long tradition of friendly and varied bilateral relations. Since 1964, Switzerland has supported the efforts of the United Nations to find a solution to the conflict between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities and to re-unify the island, which has been divided since 1974.
As part of its enlargement contribution to the new members of the European Union, Switzerland is helping Cyprus to reduce economic and social inequalities.
Relations between Switzerland and Cyprus are regulated in the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. The balance of trade between the two countries falls in favour of Switzerland, which exports pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machinery and watches, and imports precious metals, gemstones, watches, cars and airplanes as well as chemicals. Tourism is an important economic factor with around 40,000 Swiss tourists visiting the island each year.
Switzerland promotes technical and vocational training in Cyprus as part of an enlargement contribution project. In the area of healthcare, there has been an agreement between the University Hospital Geneva and the Cypriot Ministry of Health since March 2012 for the development of child heart surgery in Cypriot public hospitals. Many Cypriots have studied in Switzerland, and many of them have joined together to form the Cyprus-Swiss Association.
Scholars and artists from Cyprus can apply to the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
The Swiss government makes a financial contributions to the United Nations peacekeeping force (Unficyp) stationed on the island. Moreover, between 2000 and 2004 Switzerland supported the UN negotiating delegation in its search for solutions that would enable reunification of the island, and in March 2004 hosted a conference on the Bürgenstock under the auspices of the UN on the Cyprus issue.
Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. Switzerland has approved 3 projects amounting to CHF 6 million to reduce economic and social disparities. One of these projects, to strengthen civil society, was completed in 2011. The two remaining projects to promote technical and vocational training and to build a treatment plant for domestic septage are in the implementation phase.
At the end of 2012, there were 456 Swiss living in Cyprus.
An extensive network of contacts exists between Swiss and Cypriot cultural institutions. Swiss artists are frequent guests at the European Dance Festival in Limassol, and cooperation in the area of archaeology coupled with film projections help promote mutual cultural understanding.
The Zurich Agreement of 1959 opened the way for Cyprus to gain independence, and Switzerland was one of the first countries to recognise the Republic of Cyprus after its proclamation of independence on 16 August 1960.
Switzerland opened a consular agency in the former British colony of Cyprus as early as 1937: This subsequently became a consulate general in 1983 and an embassy in 1990. Cyprus maintains consulates general in Geneva and Zurich. The ambassador responsible for Switzerland resides in Brussels.