South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan)

Switzerland's involvement in the South Caucasus is aimed at the needs and priorities of its three partner states in the region. It focuses on making economic development inclusive and sustainable, improving the efficiency of democratic institutions and human security.

Map of the South Caucasus region

The South Caucasus continues to face various unresolved territorial conflicts such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, and between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. While the region is of strategic geopolitical significance due to its importance for energy transports to Europe, persistent conflicts affect people’s safety and are an obstacle to the economic and social development of the countries in question. Thanks to its long-standing experience in the South Caucasus, Switzerland is seen as a trustworthy partner to support these former Soviet countries in their political transition. It fosters greater cooperation between them on common interests that are not politically sensitive such as trading in agricultural products and climate change adaptation.

Inclusive and sustainable economic development

Developing the agricultural sector in the region is a priority in order to sustain an income for the rural population. In practice, this involves integrating small-scale subsistence farms in the agricultural value chains, which allows farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises to sell their products on national and regional markets. It also enables them to access financial services to take out a loan, attend professional training courses to update their knowledge and get customised support.

Agriculture and food security
Basic education and vocational skills development

Private Sector Development and financial services

Effective democratic institutions, human safety and security

Inclusive and sustainable economic development requires functioning democratic institutions, respect for human rights and a secure environment. That is why Switzerland aims to improve the efficiency of governmental institutions. It focuses in particular on building capacities at the local administrative level so that they can provide good-quality services, and at the national level in terms of better management of public finances. Switzerland also engages in conflict resolution by promoting dialogue between the parties in question. In addition, it is involved in natural disaster risk reduction along with adaptation to climate change with a focus on the sustainable development of rural and mountain regions.

Moreover, with its engagement for arts and culture, Switzerland supports the creation of opportunities for artists from the three countries to exchange and to contribute to the discussion on the future of the region.

State and Economic Reforms
Advocacy and Good Governance

Fragility and violence impede poverty reduction

Disaster risk reduction, emergency relief, reconstruction and protection

Organisation and partners

Switzerland’s involvement in the South Caucasus dates back to the relief aid it provided during the devastating earthquake in northern Armenia in 1988. In 1999, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) opened a regional cooperation office in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. While Swiss Humanitarian Aid ended its activities in 2016, Swiss efforts focusing on cooperation and peacebuilding activities in the region will continue. The 2017-2020 cooperation strategy is implemented jointly by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the FDFA's Human Security Division (HSD) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Switzerland’s key partners in the South Caucasus:

 

  • Development partners (GIZ, ADA)
  • Local and international NGOs
  • Multilateral organisations e.g. UNDP, European Investment Bank, Bretton Woods institutions
  • Civil society organisations
  • Private sector

 

 

Current projects

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Higher Income in the South Caucasus Thanks to Competitive Agricultural Products

A man in a protective suit holding a honeycomb full of bees on the roof of a high-rise building.

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021

Livestock farming is an important source of income for a large part of the rural population in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. But many farmers live from subsistence farming and produce just enough food for their own needs. The aims of the project are to strengthen smallholder farms and to provide them with access to markets. This way, farmers can sell their honey, meat, cheese and wool products, and sustainably increase their incomes.

Country/region Period Budget
South Caucasus

01.04.2017 - 31.03.2021


CHF 5'100'000



Supporting livestock traceability in the South Caucasus

The image shows a close-up of a calf with an identification tag in its right ear.

15.06.2016 - 30.11.2020

Identifying where animals have come from and recording information about their health is essential in modern agriculture to prevent the spread of diseases and stop products from diseased animals reaching the market. A system to ensure traceability will help to improve the incomes of farmers in the South Caucasus by increasing both herd productivity and the producers’ access to markets.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
South Caucasus
Agriculture and Food Security
Agriculture value-chain development
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
Rural development

15.06.2016 - 30.11.2020


CHF 5'935'000



Livestock Development in the South of Armenia

Armenian Farmer with his calf

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2020

In the provinces of Syunik and Vayots Dzor in southern Armenia, the agricultural sector mostly comprises subsistence farming where farmers are barely able to support their households. This project aims to help farmers increase their milk and meat production, and thus their incomes, by supporting local veterinary services (to improve animal health), facilitating access to milk and meat markets, and promoting the sharing of know-how among farmers.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Economy and Employment
Agriculture value-chain development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
INDUSTRY
AGRICULTURE
Rural development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Agricultural development

01.09.2014 - 31.08.2020


CHF 10'000'000



Improving municipal management and citizen participation in Armenia

Portrait photo of Srbuhy Grigoryan, an Armenian journalist who was able to take part in her town’s mayoral elections.

19.05.2014 - 30.06.2019

Switzerland has been supporting the Armenian government in its plans for territorial and administrative reform, particularly its plans to merge municipalities, which often raises concerns for local people. To this end, central approaches include one-stop shops, an electronic management system and strengthening women’s participation in politics.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Decentralisation - local governance - democratization (incl. accountability)
GOVERNMENT AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Decentralisation and support to subnational government (incl. accountability)

19.05.2014 - 30.06.2019


CHF 8'025'000



Modernising vocational education and training related to agriculture in Georgia

The image shows the VET college student Medea getting hands-on instructions in the Senaki College greenhouse on growing vegetables.

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2018

Georgia’s vocational education and training (VET) system does not correspond to the needs of the transition to a market economy which the government has sought to bring about since the country gained its independence. The SDC is helping the Georgian government to develop a more modern VET system that integrates theory and practice and allows a long-term increase in farm productivity and rural incomes.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Georgia
Economy and Employment
Education
Agriculture and Food Security
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
Vocational training and skills development
Agriculture value-chain development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
EDUCATION
AGRICULTURE
INDUSTRY
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
Vocational training
Agricultural development
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) development
Rural development

01.01.2013 - 31.12.2018


CHF 6'547'000



Rural Development in the Region of Meghri, Armenia

The picture shows an Armenian producer standing next to one of his fruit trees.

17.12.2012 - 30.06.2018

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the break-up of the country's vast collective farms, subsistence farming has become the norm in armenia's fruit-growing industry. Through this project, the SDC is helping fruit-growers in the region of Meghri in the south of the country to improve and develop their crops and sell their produce on the market.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Armenia
Agriculture value-chain development
Agricultural production (incl. management of natural resources)
MULTISECTOR or CROSS-CUTTING
AGRICULTURE
Rural development
Agricultural development

17.12.2012 - 30.06.2018


CHF 3'580'000



Regional Arts and Culture Project in the South Caucasus

Dancers on a stage in colorful dresses throw clothes in the air.

01.10.2017 - 30.09.2021

By providing a platform for the development of contemporary art, the Regional Arts and Culture Project promotes intercultural dialogues and exchanges in the South Caucasus. Implemented in collaboration with partners based in Georgia and networks in Armenia and Azerbaijan, the project aims at supporting visual arts (documentary film and photography), building up professional capacities, engaging civil society, and boosting local art scenes with a small grants’ fund.


Market Opportunities for Livelihood Improvement in Kakheti, Georgia

01.12.2015 - 30.11.2018

Livestock farming is the main economic activity for the majority of poor households in the Kakheti region of Georgia. Through better access to markets, services and inputs for the dairy and meat value chains, target farmers will substantially improve their income. By the end of the project phase 27’000 households will have benefitted directly from improved access to markets, services, inputs, a more conducive operating environment and better protection from natural disasters. 


Regional and Municipal Infrastructure Development in Georgia

10.04.2014 - 31.05.2019

The project will increase human and institutional capacities of all municipalities in Georgia (except the capital city Tbilisi). lt will enable them to perform independently the core three functions for decentralised delivery of basic infrastructure services, i. e. Project Cycle Management, Financial Management and Asset Management. Such a decentralized System will enable the Government to better respond to population needs at local level.



Fostering Regional and Local Development in Georgia

15.12.2012 - 15.12.2017

The strengthening of local and regional governance Systems through capacity building, mobilization of local human resources and better coordination of public Investments is expected to improve inclusive development of rural regions of Georgia. This will contribute to the transition from the inherited highly centralized Soviet administration to a decentralized System and to reduce the significant economic divide between the urban and rural population.

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