The long-standing and good bilateral relations are characterised by Switzerland's humanitarian and development engagement in Afghanistan. Switzerland is actively involved in the long-term development and reconstruction of the country.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Afghanistan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland's work in development cooperation is focused on a long-term civilian programme through which it supports specific projects in various parts of the country. Switzerland and Afghanistan have only concluded two bilateral agreements. 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.
As an agrarian country agriculture is very important to Afghanistan. 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. Swiss investments in Afghanistan are very limited.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Afghanistan can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The objectives of Switzerland's cooperation strategy in Afghanistan (2015–2018) are to support and improve 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; it accordingly contributes funding to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The aid is also focused on preventing food shortages, in particular those caused by natural disasters. The 2015–2018 cooperation strategy provides for a progressive increase in Switzerland's commitment to CHF 29 million per year.
Swiss nationals in Afghanistan
At the end of 2014, there were 53 Swiss nationals living in Afghanistan.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland opened a cooperation office in Kabul in 2002, which reports to the embassy in Islamabad.
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 suffering of the people.
The Federal Council expressed its concern about the invasion of Soviet troops in 1979. Switzerland maintained diplomatic relations with the government installed by the Soviet Union and supported the work of the ICRC for the war victims.
In 1917, Afghanistan gained independence and the British protectorate ended. Switzerland recognised Afghanistan in 1922 and established diplomatic relations in 1928. Political and economic exchanges remain at a modest level.