Relations between Switzerland and Georgia are excellent and characterised by numerous exchanges. Switzerland's support for Georgia focuses on development cooperation. Switzerland is also contributing to efforts to resolve regional conflicts in the South Caucasus.
Bilateral relations Switzerland-Georgia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland has been active in Georgia since 1991, primarily in development cooperation and peacebuilding. Since March 2009, it has represented the diplomatic interests of Georgia in Russia and those of Russia in Georgia. In 2019, various Swiss actors working in Georgia were brought together under one roof in a new embassy building. This integrated approach strengthens the synergies between Switzerland's various activities in Georgia.
Switzerland and Georgia have well-developed legal frameworks in the economic sector, including an agreement on trade and economic cooperation (in force since 2001), a double taxation agreement (since 2011), a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (since 2015), and a free trade agreement between Georgia and the EFTA states for Switzerland (since 2018). There is also a bilateral agreement on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin.
In 2022, Switzerland mainly imported precious metals from Georgia and exported chemical and pharmaceutical products, precision instruments and watches as well as machinery. Around 30 companies with a connection to Switzerland are active in the Georgian market, some of them operating local production facilities.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Swiss and Georgian universities have concluded a number of cooperation agreements. Since 2013, Switzerland has supported vocational skills development in agriculture and public administration.
Researchers and artists who are citizens of Georgia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
After the war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 and the Russian recognition of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two countries broke off diplomatic relations. On 4 March 2009, Switzerland took over the representation of Georgia's diplomatic interests in Russia and those of Russia in Georgia.
As a result of Swiss mediation efforts, on 9 November 2011 Russia and Georgia signed an agreement on the monitoring of customs clearance between their two countries. This agreement paved the way for Russia’s accession to the WTO.
Switzerland is committed to the peaceful resolution of the various conflicts in the region. To this end, it supports a number of platforms for dialogue and engages in dealing with the past. It is also involved in the integration of minority groups and promoting democracy with a view to conflict prevention.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland's 2022–25 South Caucasus cooperation programme aims to improve and diversify incomes for rural populations, with a particular focus on promoting agricultural SMEs, improving access to credit, and creating a vocational training system in the farming sector.
Swiss cooperation (the SDC and SECO) in Georgia is active in local governance, public services, and promoting gender equality. It also supports efforts to improve natural resources and disaster risk-related management, particularly in terms of sustainable development in Georgia's mountain regions.
Switzerland and Georgia have increased cooperation on migration issues in recent years. In 2005, the two countries signed a readmission agreement. Since 2014, an additional visa facilitation agreement has been in force, exempting all diplomatic passport holders from visa requirements. In May 2022, the two countries formed a migration partnership.
There is a lively cultural exchange between Switzerland and Georgia even in the absence of a bilateral cultural exchange agreement. Private contacts and initiatives are particularly dynamic in the fields of literature, music, cinema and the visual arts. Switzerland supports the Georgian cultural scene as part of its development assistance. The Swiss embassy in Georgia also promotes Swiss culture in Georgia, organising events during the French and Italian language weeks and in the month dedicated to the German language.
Swiss nationals in Georgia
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad for mid-2022, there were 92 Swiss citizens living in Georgia.
History of bilateral relations
In the 19th century, there was a large Swiss community in Georgia whose members were active in the raw materials sector (oil, manganese) and the dairy industry. Switzerland had a consulate in Tbilisi from 1883 to 1922.
Switzerland recognised Georgia as an independent state on 23 December 1991 and established diplomatic relations on 10 June 1992.
It also provided humanitarian assistance during the conflicts that shook the country in the early 1990s. Switzerland opened a cooperation office in Tbilisi in 1996 and an embassy in June 2001.
Relations developed considerably after 2008, when Switzerland assumed a mandate to represent Russia's diplomatic interests in Georgia and those of Georgia in Russia and began sustained efforts to mediate between the two countries.