Madagascar and Switzerland have a long tradition of friendly relations characterised by a considerable degree of cooperation between economic, social and cultural entities, especially via non-governmental organisations. Since the country gained independence in 1960, Switzerland has drawn up several development cooperation programmes, including in the rural sector. Following the political crisis in 2009, Switzerland contributed financially and politically within the scope of its experience and abilities to the transition process and the restoration of constitutional order in Madagascar through its support for the electoral process at the end of 2013.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Madagascar
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Since March 2009, Madagascar has been experiencing a political crisis that has isolated it on the international stage. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Madagascans and the international community, and following the signing of a roadmap to end the crisis by the country’s main political players on 17 September 2011, constitutional order was restored through the organisation of free, transparent and credible elections at the end of 2013.
Switzerland contributed financially and politically within the scope of its experience and abilities to the transition process and the restoration of constitutional order in Madagascar. The new president of the republic and the new parliament assumed their functions at the beginning of 2014. Switzerland welcomed the holding of these elections.
Economic relations are relatively modest but show considerable potential for development. Several big Swiss companies are active in the country. Most Swiss economic activities in Madagascar are focused on the tourism sector. Trade is primarily in products such as spices and commodities, especially in organic brands.
Cooperation in the domain of education
The Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS) offers foreign students university scholarships on a reciprocal basis. The Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS) offers foreign students university scholarships on a reciprocal basis. A shortlist of candidates is then submitted to the FCS, which awards scholarships to young scholars currently doing research internships or writing doctoral or post-doctoral theses.
Many Madgascan nationals have studied in Switzerland, and some have formed an association called the Anciens de Suisse (A2S) and a network of former students.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The SDC has decided to continue its commitment to Madagascar and to implement the new “MATOY” programme, which builds on previous experience to promote sustainable economic growth. MATOY is a development programme which aims to consolidate the results of the last 50 years of Switzerland’s commitment to development in Madagascar.
Swiss citizens in Madagascar
468 Swiss nationals living in Madagascar were registered at the embassy in Antananarivo at the end of 2015. Many Swiss citizens travel to Madagascar as tourists or in connection with cooperation programmes and projects by Swiss non-governmental organisations in Nosy Be (“Big Islandˮ), where they are very active.
The embassy works with the Trôtra dance festival, the Madajazzcar music festival, the Madagascar short films event and other local and international cultural institutes and organisations active in Madagascar.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland first showed an interest in Madagascar during the 19th century, initially of an economic nature. Both Catholic and Protestant missionaries have since developed their contacts. The island gained its independence from France in 1960. Switzerland recognised the new state immediately. Diplomatic relations were established one year later.
After maintaining a consulate-general in Antananarivo during the first years of independence, Switzerland opened an embassy which was headed by a chargé d’affaires for many years and since 2007 by a resident ambassador.
Madagascar has long been a priority country of Switzerland’s development cooperation efforts. In 1998, the SDC closed its cooperation office in Antananarivo. In 2001, it launched a special programme on good governance and the promotion of the local economy which it has been pursing in a new form since 2013.