Switzerland established regular contacts with the Republic of North Macedonia immediately upon the latter's independence, integrating the new nation in its transition support programme. Today, the two countries' relations are underpinned by Switzerland's significant international cooperation and the sizeable diaspora from the Republic of North Macedonia living in Switzerland.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland recognised the Republic of North Macedonia on 12 May 1993. Relations are good and dominated by matters concerning the substantial community from North Macedonia living in Switzerland (family reunification, police cooperation, migration partnership) and Switzerland's extensive international cooperation programme.
Economic relations and trade between the two countries remain modest, with trade amounting to CHF 174 million in 2021. There is potential for further development in trade and Swiss direct investment. Switzerland exports primarily chemical and pharmaceutical products and vehicles to North Macedonia and imports mainly textiles and agricultural products. The advantages and business potential of North Macedonia are gradually being recognised by Swiss nationals, mainly those of North Macedonian origin who have studied or worked in Switzerland. Some have set up successful small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their homeland, on their own or in partnership with a Swiss company.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists who are citizens of North Macedonia can apply to SERI for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Since its participation in 1964, North Macedonia has been awarded 50 scholarships.
As part of its international cooperation with North Macedonia, Switzerland also supports educational projects to combat youth unemployment.
Switzerland has been running bilateral cooperation projects in North Macedonia since 1992 and contributes to regional and international programmes. Its current cooperation strategy (2021–24) continues to support reform processes already under way in the areas of democratic governance, sustainable economic development, the environment and sustainable public services.
As a fledgling independent state, North Macedonia still faces many challenges on the road to European integration. Switzerland is supporting the country on this path.
Switzerland participates in various cultural events, notably in the context of the 'Francophonie' and Italian language week.
Swiss citizens in the Republic of North Macedonia
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 419 Swiss citizens were living in the Republic of North Macedonia at the end of 2021.
History of bilateral relations
In 1994, one year after the country gained independence, Switzerland accredited its ambassador in Bulgaria also in North Macedonia and supported diplomatic missions to stabilise the country. Within the framework of the UN, Switzerland provided six police officers to participate in peacekeeping measures, provided support for the 1994 census and helped set up a local radio station for minorities in Skopje in 1995.
Since 1996, North Macedonia has been a priority country for Swiss international cooperation. Owing to the growing importance of its commitment in the country, Switzerland opened an embassy in Skopje in 2000. Today, Switzerland is a valued partner of North Macedonia and, in addition to the EU programmes, supports the country by providing significant resources in selected priority areas where Switzerland has unique expertise.