Bilateral relations

Relations between the two countries have grown closer since the revolution in Tunisia in 2011. Tunisia is a partner in Switzerland's North Africa programme. As part of its strategy, Switzerland is supporting Tunisia's democratic transition process.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

The two countries are linked via a free-trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association and an agreement on the protection of investments. Additional agreements have been signed in connection with Tunisia's democratic transition.

A large number of cultural projects as well as Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships increase exchanges between Tunisia and Switzerland and promote bilateral relations.

Treaty database

Peace promotion and human security

Within the framework of its North Africa programme, Switzerland focuses on the following themes in the field of democratic transition and human rights:

  • Supporting Parliament and the election process

  • Independent and professional media coverage

  • Preventing torture and dealing with the past

  • Reforming the security sector and preventing violent extremism

For the prevention of torture, Switzerland is encouraging the introduction of national prevention mechanisms and the monitoring of prisons and detention centres by civil society. In the field of preventing violent extremism Switzerland is supporting the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the secondment of an international expert to support the responsible Tunisian authorities in developing an action plan to combat terrorism. In addition, Switzerland has launched a project in Tunisia to promote the political participation and inclusion of young people.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Switzerland's interdepartmental North Africa programme covers three areas: 

  • Democratic transition and human rights

  • Economic development and employment

  • Migration and protection

Switzerland stepped up its activities in Tunisia following the events in January 2011. A programme to support the transition process was developed with Tunisian partners. The International Cooperation Division within the Swiss embassy in Tunis was created to carry out the programme. Switzerland's activities focus on promoting development and fighting poverty in disadvantaged regions of Tunisia.Young people are a priority for Switzerland’s activities in the country.

Resources devoted to international cooperation with Tunisia amounted to approximately CHF 96 million in 2011–2016.

International cooperation

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Economic Cooperation and Development, SECO

Swiss nationals in Tunisia

At the end of 2016, there were 1,548 Swiss citizens living in Tunisia.

Cultural exchanges

Cultural exchange between Switzerland and Tunisia is flourishing. The countries' common language, French, is an important aspect in these relations. Switzerland regularly organises exhibitions and events in Tunisia and supports local cultural projects. Switzerland also takes part in the Journées de la Francophonie every year.

History of bilateral relations

Relations with Tunisia developed in the 19th century during the French expansion into North Africa. Switzerland opened a consulate in Tunis in 1939. Tunisia gained independence in 1956, and that year can be considered the start of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Tunisia. Switzerland recognised Tunisia as an independent state immediately and opened a legation, which was transformed into an embassy in 1961.

Tunisia, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)