Switzerland and Iran maintain good diplomatic relations and meet regularly for political consultations. As Protecting Power, Switzerland represents the consular and diplomatic interests of the USA in Iran.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Iran
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political consultations are regularly held in Bern and Teheran. Since 1980, Switzerland has been representing the consular and diplomatic interests of the USA in Iran; and since 1979, those of Iran in Egypt.
There exist agreements on air traffic (1954, 1972 and 2004), on ground traffic (1977), on export-risk guarantees (1966), on investment protection (1998) and on double taxation (2002).
Economic relations between Switzerland and Iran have traditionally been good, and up until 2008, the volume of trade was on a continual increase. Since then, the international sanctions against Iran have been complicating economic relations so that the volume of trade has been decreasing.
Switzerland has been implementing the UN sanctions that are binding under international law. On a case by case basis, it autonomously follows suit in implementing unilateral sanctions applied by Switzerland's major commercial partners, namely the EU.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Swiss universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne and Zurich enjoy a good reputation among students from Iran. Scholars and artists from Iran can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
In the aftermath of the severe earthquakes in 1997, 2003 and 2012, Switzerland provided emergency relief and assisted in reconstructing the infrastructure.
The two countries regularly maintain cultural exchange. Several Swiss museums have received significant loan exhibitions from Iran.
Swiss nationals in Iran
At the beginning of 2014, there were 185 Swiss citizens living in Iran.
History of bilateral relations
In the 17th century, the first Swiss watchmakers settled in the Persian Empire. Economic relations grew stronger in the 19th century, especially in the transportation and banking sectors. Swiss archaeologists participated in excavations in Persia.
In the 20th century, Iranians began to come to Switzerland, be it as tourists, refugees, or as students, for instance the former prime minister Mossadegh and the Schah Muhammad Riza Pahlavi.
Because of its political neutrality, Switzerland has also represented in Iran the interests of a number of countries – including Italy (1946), Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland and New Zealand (1952), South Africa (1952, 1979-1995) and Lebanon (1984). In addition, it has represented Iran's interests in relations with the Axis powers (1941-1946), in Israel (1958-1987), in Iraq (1971-1973) and in South Africa (1979-1994).
In 1873, the two countries signed a friendship and trade treaty. A friendship treaty and a residence/settlement agreement have existed since 1934. In 1919, Switzerland opened a consulate in Teheran; since 1936, it has also maintained an embassy there.