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. Switzerland’s current cooperation strategy focuses on supporting reform processes which are already under way in the areas of democratic governance, development of the economy and jobs, infrastructure and the environment. The presence of a sizeable diaspora from the Republic of North Macedonia in Switzerland helps strengthen ties between the two countries.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–North Macedonia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland recognised the Republic of North Macedonia on 12 May 1993. Relations are good, being dominated by questions concerning the substantial community from North Macedonia in Switzerland (family reunifications, police cooperation) as well as the keystone development cooperation programme.
Economic relations and trade between the two countries remain modest. There is potential for further development both in terms of trade and Swiss direct investment in the Republic of North Macedonia. So far the attractions and business potential of North Macedonia have been recognised mainly by Swiss citizens of origin from North Macedonia who have studied or worked in Switzerland. A small number of these have created small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their homeland, either with their own funds or in partnership with a Swiss company.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Scholars and artists from the Republic of North Macedonia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Since 1964, nationals of North Macedonia have been awarded 48 scholarships.
Switzerland participates in various cultural events, notably in the context of the 'Francophonie' and Italian language week.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has undertaken bilateral cooperation projects in North Macedonia since 1992, while contributing to regional and international programmes. Its current cooperation strategy with the Republic of North Macedonia (2017–2020) focuses on supporting reform processes already under way in the areas of democratic governance, the economy, infrastructure and the environment.
Having only recently gained independence, the Republic of North Macedonia now finds itself in a phase of development and building a national identity. As it moves towards integration with Europe this new nation, despite relative stability and steady growth, still faces a number of challenges. The Ohrid Framework Agreement of 2001, which marked the end of a violent conflict over Albanian minority rights, is the basis for the government’s political programme, particularly with regard to minority rights and the process of decentralisation. It is against this background that Switzerland’s cooperation programme is being implemented.
Swiss nationals in the Republic of North Macedonia
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 321 Swiss nationals were living in the Republic of North Macedonia at the end of 2017.
History of bilateral relations
In 1994, a year after Switzerland recognised the independence of the Republic of North Macedonia, the Swiss ambassador in Sofia was also accredited to North Macedonia and participated in diplomatic missions aimed at increasing the country’s stability. Switzerland seconded six police officers within the framework of United Nations peacekeeping operations, and provided financial support for the census of 1994. The following year Switzerland helped create a local radio station aimed at minorities in Skopje.
Since 1996 North Macedonia has been a priority country for Swiss cooperation with Eastern Europe. In view of the growing importance of Switzerland’s activities, an embassy was opened in Skopje in 2000. Switzerland is much appreciated as a partner in North Macedonia thanks to the extent of the resources it employs, its unique capabilities in certain areas, and the way in which its development aid complements EU programmes.