Relations between Switzerland and Cyprus are friendly and diverse. They are focused on peacebuilding, on economic, scientific and cultural contacts and projects within the framework of Switzerland's contribution to EU enlargement.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Cyprus
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Cyprus have a long-standing tradition of friendly and diverse bilateral relations. Since 1964, Switzerland has supported the efforts of the UN to find a solution to the conflict between Cyprus' Greek and Turkish communities and for the reunification of the island that has been partitioned since 1974.
As part of its enlargement contribution to the new members of the EU, Switzerland is helping Cyprus to reduce economic and social inequalities.
Economic cooperation between Switzerland and Cyprus is regulated in a bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU. The balance of trade between the two countries falls in favour of Switzerland, which mainly exports pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machinery and watches, and mainly imports chemicals, precious metals, agricultural produce and machinery.
Tourism is an important economic factor in Cyprus: approximately 40,000 Swiss tourists visit the island every year.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
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, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Swiss contribution to EU enlargement
Cyprus has been a member of the EU since 2004. Switzerland approved three projects designed to reduce economic and social disparities, with a total budget of CHF 6 million. The first was completed in 2012 and helped strengthen civil society. The other two projects, which are now in the completion phase, involve the promotion of vocational education and training in technical occupations and the construction of a water treatment plant.
Peacebuilding and human security
Switzerland participated in the funding of the UN peacekeeping force stationed on the island (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, UNFICYP). In addition, from 2000 to 2004, it was a member of the UN delegation tasked with negotiating possible solutions for the reunification of the island. A conference on Cyprus was held in March 2004 at the Bürgenstock in Switzerland under the auspices of the UN. Switzerland also hosted several rounds of talks aimed at resolving the Cyprus question in Mont-Pèlerin, Geneva and Crans-Montana in 2016 and 2017.
It also provides regular support to the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), whose mission is to recover, identify, and return to their families the remains of those reported missing since the occupation of 1974.
A wide and varied network of contacts exists between cultural institutions in the two countries. Swiss artists are regularly invited to perform at the European Dance Festival in Limassol. In addition, archaeological cooperation and film screenings promote mutual cultural understanding.
Swiss nationals in Cyprus
According to statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 439 Swiss nationals were living in Cyprus at the end of 2016.
History of bilateral relations
In 1959, parliamentarians from Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom held negotiations in Zurich on the future status of Cyprus. On the basis of these negotiations a treaty between the three powers was concluded in London setting out the conditions for Cyprus' independence. The Republic of Cyprus was proclaimed on 16 August 1960. Switzerland was one of the first states to recognise Cyprus – on the day of its foundation.
Switzerland had already opened a consular agency on the island in 1937, when it was a British crown colony. This agency was transformed first into a consulate general in 1983, then into an embassy in 1990. Cyprus has consulates general in Geneva and Zurich. The embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Rome is responsible for relations between Cyprus and Switzerland.