Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina

In an effort to help Bosnia and Herzegovina achieve further stabilisation Switzerland is providing support to the state authorities for reform at various levels (whole of government, entity, canton and commune). Through its considerable commitment Switzerland is contributing to the consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and the market economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Switzerland is also promoting efforts to deal with problems arising from the 1992–95 war.

Economic cooperation

Switzerland is an important partner for Bosnia and Herzegovina, both in terms of trade and direct investments, although these are relatively small from the Swiss point of view. The large BiH diaspora in Switzerland and the remittances they send home are an important aspect of the economic relations between the two nations.

Cooperation in the field of education

Scholars and artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER). Moreover Switzerland promotes research in BiH through two programmes: Scientific Cooperation between Eastern Europe and Switzerland (SCOPES) and the Regional Research Promotion Programme (RRPP), in both of which the country’s researchers work alongside Swiss researchers.

Peacebuilding and human security

Switzerland is helping Bosnia and Herzegovina to come to terms with the legacy of the conflict of 1992-95 and to reconcile the different ethnic groups. For the related projects the FDFA has earmarked an annual budget of some 1.2 million CHF. These projects cover mine clearance, support for DNA identification of war victims, contributions to objective reporting of war crimes, witness protection, education and in particular establishing standards for the teaching of history.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the priority countries of Swiss programmes for Eastern Europe. The aim of this cooperation is political and economic stabilisation and implementation of necessary structural reforms in these areas. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) have provided 310 million CHF worth of support since 1996. The programme was funded in 2011 with 17.4 million CHF. The main areas of focus as per the 2009–12 strategy are as follows: rule of law and democracy, the economy and employment, health and basic infrastructure. A 2012–16 strategy is currently in preparation.

The Cooperation Office in Sarajevo is also in charge of Federal Office for Migration projects in the framework of a bilateral migration partnership.

Swiss in Bosnia and Herzegovina

At the end of 2011 there were 370 Swiss living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many with dual citizenship. There are also 20 Swiss Army personnel, supporting the European Union Force (UFOR) in its efforts to promote BiH stabilisation in the context of security policy.

Cultural exchanges

The Swiss Embassy together with Pro Helvetia has been very active in the cultural field in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the war. Among other things Switzerland has provided support since 1996 for the Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF), the most important in South-Eastern Europe. The Confederation finances prizes for the best documentary and human rights films. In this context the SFF collaborates with Geneva’s Festival du Film et Forum International sur les Droits Humains.

Since 2007, the Sarajevo-based Swiss Cultural Program in the Western Balkans, which promotes many projects throughout the region, has taken the place of the local Pro Helvetia cultural office, which is due to close in 2013.

History of bilateral relations

Since 1995, Switzerland has maintained diplomatic relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has a positive image in the country thanks in part to its acceptance of many refugees during the conflict of 1992–95 and subsequent support for reconstruction.

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