Relations between Switzerland and Azerbaijan are characterised by open dialogue and are based on several key areas including energy policy, cooperation in the international financial institutions and development cooperation. Switzerland is also involved in helping resolve the conflicts in the South Caucasus region.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Azerbaijan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Azerbaijan belongs to the voting constituency chaired by Switzerland at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Switzerland attaches great importance to promoting good governance and the rule of law in Azerbaijan. It also undertakes technical and economic cooperation with the country.
Azerbaijan is Switzerland's main trading partner in the South Caucasus. Switzerland mainly exports jewellery products (precious stones, precious metals), machinery, watches, and pharmaceuticals to Azerbaijan. Several Swiss companies are active in Azerbaijan. A Swiss company is involved in the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a project that will transport Azerbaijani natural gas to Italy via Georgia, Turkey, Greece and Albania by the end of the decade.
The Azerbaijani state-owned energy company SOCAR operates in Switzerland. On 1 July 2012, SOCAR Energy took over the ESSO Switzerland network of 160 petrol stations, which it operates under the SOCAR brand. SOCAR Trading, the international marketing and development arm of SOCAR, is headquartered in Geneva.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Azerbaijan can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Peace promotion and human security
Switzerland is working within its Cooperation Strategy South Caucasus 2017–2020 to seek peaceful solutions to the conflicts in the region.
Switzerland is pursuing its engagement in the region following its 2014 chairmanship of the OSCE, with Ambassador Günther Bächler appointed OSCE Special Representative for the South Caucasus under the German and Austrian chairmanships. Mr Bächler represents the OSCE at the Geneva talks and is working to encourage dialogue and rapprochement between the countries in the region.
In Azerbaijan, Switzerland is working to promote:
a better economic environment
a modern financial sector
a healthy business environment
better public services
vocational education and training
Peacebuilding, democracy, the rule of law and human rights are the priorities for the programme in Azerbaijan as part of Switzerland's 2017–20 regional cooperation strategy for the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia). The budget for the strategy covering the three countries is CHF 67.2 million.
The Swiss embassy makes its own contributions to a film festival, the Settimana della lingua italiana nel Mondo (Italian language week)and the Semaine de la langue française et de la francophonie (French language week).
Swiss citizens in Azerbaijan
At the end of 2016, there were 25 Swiss citizens living in Azerbaijan according to the statistics on Swiss nationals living abroad.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Azerbaijan as an independent state on 23 December 1991. In October 2005, Azerbaijan opened an embassy in Bern. Switzerland opened a cooperation office in Baku in 2001 and since late 2007 has had an embassy in the city which was officially inaugurated in May 2008.