“Today we celebrate the 10 Year Anniversary of the Swiss Embassy’s Opening in Yerevan. We can be proud of the common successes reached between Switzerland and Armenia during the 25 years of bilateral cooperation. All the more, I am thrilled to see what our extending partnership will bring in the next future. Indeed Switzerland will maintain its focus on assisting the reform process in Armenia. In spite of the difficulties and challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will keep working together towards a better functioning democracy, strengthened rule of law and improved market economy in the country,” says Stefano Lazzarotto, Ambassador of Switzerland to Armenia.
10 Year Anniversary of the Embassy of Switzerland in Armenia
Local news, 31.03.2021
March 31, 2021, marks the 10th Anniversary of the Swiss Embassy’s ceremonial opening in Yerevan, Republic of Armenia. Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), inaugurated the Embassy during her official visit to Armenia back in 2011. However, the bilateral ties between the two countries date back even further.
Since 2004, Switzerland has been supporting Armenia in developing the decentralized rescue capacities through provision of basic rescue trainings to 2’400 fire fighters and equipping 62 fire stations across the country with basic rescue tools. Responding to the Government plans and request to build the complete rescue capacities, Switzerland has made another step in creating 27 Medical Units with 540 medical staff, ready for deployment (regionally and nationally) to provide professional onsite medical assistance, through efficient application of equipment and skills, and to support and complete the operations of other rescue teams.
Based on the impressive results registered and with the aim to assist the country to respond to a more complex situations, such as major earthquakes, Switzerland further assisted the country in establishment of 5 Regional Rapid Response Teams integrated into country response plans for provision of professional rescue operations all over the country. In 2015, created capacities allow one of the Teams to pass successfully the INSARAG External Classification, certifying the appropriate level and standards of the team for international deployments. Currently Switzerland is a Mentor of the Team for the next Re-Classification.
Thus since then with the Swiss support, Armenia upgraded its capacities, from being the country importing the knowledge and skills to the country exporting them.
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In the field of economic development, Swiss program provides support to the remote rural communities in selected agricultural value chains (livestock: milk and meat). The support mainly concentrates on availability and accessibility of various agricultural services and inputs and sustainable access to markets. Agricultural support services include veterinary services, artificial insemination, agro inputs and fodder, mechanization, access to pastures. Improved access to and quality of these services result in improved farm productivity around 13% since 2014 and quality of agricultural production (milk and meat). Access to markets includes establishment of milk collection infrastructure and meat trade. To boost meat trade Animal Market, unique in the region, has been constructed in Syunik in 2015.
Overall between 2014 and 2017 the income of more than 150 000 people substantially increased by 62%.
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Moreover, since 2014, Switzerland has been supporting the Government of Armenia in its decentralization efforts as well. With its “Improvement of the Local Self-Governance System in Armenia” program, the SDC aims at strengthening accountability, effectiveness, efficiency and inclusiveness of local self-government bodies in Armenia. In this regard, improved service delivery by municipalities and enhanced citizen participation in local governance, including empowerment of women, are of particular importance.
Since the beginning of the LSG program, 34 enlarged municipalities strengthened their governance and management capacities (including introduction of an e-governance system, one-stop shops, development plans, and trainings provided to the municipal staff). The policy framework for decentralization and for local and regional development has been significantly improved as well.
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In the period of 2011-2020 Switzerland imported goods from Armenia of CHF 787 mln. total value and exported of CHF 656 mln. During this period, imports from Armenia increased about 40 times and export numbers of Swiss goods to Armenia increased 4 times.
According to the statistics published by the Statistical Committee of the Republic of Armenia, Switzerland is number 2 most important trade partner of Armenia as of 2020 after Russia. It is the number 1 country with which Armenia has a positive trade balance that was even increased in 2020 vs 2019, followed by Iraq and Bulgaria.
With export figures (CHF 432 mln in 2020 vs CHF 424 mln in 2019) Switzerland is the 2nd country after Russia and is followed by China. The main portion of export to Switzerland from Armenia, almost 80%, goes to the export of gold.
During the 2012-2020 period, the Embassy has funded about 73 cultural projects of around CHF 105,000.00 total value.
Currently, through its Regional Arts and Culture project the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation promotes contemporary and experimental art, carries out social art projects in marginalized communities, trains cultural managers, and issues small grants for promising art and culture initiatives in all three countries.
Cultural diversity is as essential to humanity as bio-diversity is to nature. It makes the world a richer and more varied place and enlarges the range of choices available. The Swiss position on a framework for sustainable development states that the “promoting cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue as well as leveraging the potential of cultural and artistic resources supports the inclusion of marginalized groups. It is also important for fostering peace and for sustainable development as a whole”.
The three countries of the South Caucasus have a rich and diverse cultural heritage. In contrast to traditional arts, contemporary forms of art still lack recognition and support reflected in a shortage of professional training, insufficient arts education and scare possibilities. Contemporary art constitutes an important driver of changes in today’s society. It makes a unique and significant contribution to sustainable development by providing space for cultural exchanges, simulating different perspectives, and challenging social and cultural norms and prejudices.