Political relations between Switzerland and Latvia have traditionally been good. Various congresses which led up to Latvia's first declaration of independence were held in Switzerland. In addition, in the first few years following independence, Latvia received Swiss support as part of its programme of cooperation with Eastern Europe. Latvia is one of the beneficiary countries of the Swiss contribution to the enlarged EU.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Latvia maintain good diplomatic relations, and bilateral contact has intensified in recent years. In September 2014 Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter visited Riga in his capacity as then-President of the Swiss Confederation, meeting with Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs, Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and then-President Andris Bērziņš. Edgars Rinkēvičs made a return visit to Bern in early 2015.
Since Latvia joined the EU in 2004, bilateral trade has been based on the free trade agreement between Switzerland and the EU. The volume of trade amounted to almost CHF 190 million in 2014.
Switzerland’s contribution to the enlarged EU
As an EU member state, Latvia is one of the countries to benefit from the Swiss contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in an enlarged European Union. Between 2012 and 2017, Switzerland will support 12 projects with total funding of CHF 60 million.
Cooperation in education and training
Scholars and artists from Latvia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Swiss nationals in Latvia
At the end of 2014, there were 42 Swiss citizens living in Latvia.
History of bilateral relations
Various congresses which led up to Latvia's first declaration of independence in 1918 were held in Switzerland. The annexation of the country by the Soviet Union was never recognised by Switzerland, which re-established its diplomatic relations with Latvia in 1991. During the transitional phase in the 1990s, Latvia became a priority country in Switzerland’s programme of cooperation with Eastern Europe, receiving some CHF 26 million in the form of technical support projects and financial aid for health, the environment, and the banking sector.
Switzerland opened its consulate in Riga in 1868, and it remained in place until the country was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. In June 1992 Switzerland opened an embassy in Riga which also handles Swiss interests in Lithuania and (since 2011) Estonia.
Latvia has had a consular representation in Switzerland since 1919, and the head of mission for the Baltic States in Berlin was responsible for diplomatic relations. Today the Latvian embassy in Vienna is responsible for relations with Switzerland.