Bilateral relations Switzerland–Timor-Leste

Political and economic relations between the two countries are limited in scope. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation funds occasional small-scale projects. Furthermore, Switzerland dispatched election observers to monitor the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2007, 2012 and 2017.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

The Swiss Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, provides diplomatic and consular services for Timor-Leste. Switzerland and Timor-Leste have had diplomatic relations since 2002.

Bilateral meetings between the two countries are infrequent. Switzerland engages in small projects for development aid and human security on an ad hoc basis, as the need arises.

Government of Timor-Leste

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

The two countries' main area of collaboration has been in relation to development projects. After the violent clashes of 1999, the Swiss government provided support for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the radio station set up by the Swiss media NGO Fondation Hirondelle.

Switzerland has also helped to subsidise occasional small-scale projects in development cooperation over a number of years.

Two regional specialists in disaster risk reduction and disaster management have been based in Bangkok since 2013 to support SDC projects in South East Asia and the Pacific region and to respond rapidly to natural disasters in both regions. The two specialists are also helping ASEAN to step up its disaster risk management and rapid response capabilities.

Swiss nationals in Timor-Leste

There were nine Swiss citizens living in Timor-Leste at the end of 2017.

History of bilateral relations

After 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule and a brief civil war, Timor-Leste was annexed by Indonesia in 1975 shortly after declaring independence.

In 1999, following much violence and bloodshed, the country came under interim UN administration (UNTAET and UNMIT). Switzerland provided extensive support to the victims and contributed financially to the UN peacekeeping forces.

Formal diplomatic relations were established in 2002 with the signing of a joint statement by Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss and Timor-Leste's foreign minister at the time, José Ramos-Horta, at the 57th UN General Assembly.

Switzerland participated in the EU election observation mission to Timor-Leste in 2007, sending two observers to the presidential and subsequently also the parliamentary elections. It again dispatched an observer for the 2012 elections and also acted as an observer to the parliamentary elections in July 2017.