Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Serbia are close, dynamic and wide-ranging. They are characterised by close human and cultural relations, a series of bilateral agreements and good cooperation in multilateral organisations.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The Swiss and Serbian foreign ministries are in frequent and regular contact. Many agreements exist, notably in relation to economic questions, migration and social insurance. The presence in Switzerland of a large Serbian community also influences relations.
Cooperation in the multilateral area is also excellent, with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairmanship held by Switzerland in 2014 and handed over to Serbia in 2015, as well as cooperation within the Swiss voting constituency at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Economic cooperation includes annual government-level meetings in the form of joint economic commissions and forums, providing an opportunity to establish priorities, discuss any difficulties encountered and develop opportunities for investment.
There is potential for further development of trade relations. Serbia is an attractive market for Swiss companies with a local presence.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Serbia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Numerous cooperation projects between universities, specifically the University of Zurich and the University of Belgrade, have fostered dynamic scientific exchange. Serbia is now a full member of CERN.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has supported Serbia's transition process since 1991 with an annual contribution that currently stands at CHF 26 million.
The main thrust of the 2018–21 strategy, established in agreement with the principal Serbian partners, both governmental and non-governmental, is to promote Serbia's integration in Europe.
Cooperation focuses on three areas:
- economic development and employment
- sustainable energy management and urban development.
Cultural relations between Switzerland and Serbia are very diverse, particularly in the areas of dance, theatre, music, film and literature. Switzerland supports a number of cultural festivals in Belgrade which give Swiss artists and groups an opportunity to perform there. The same is true in Switzerland, where the Serbian community contributes much to the diversity of cultural exchange between the two countries.
Swiss nationals in Serbia
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 2,291 Swiss citizens living in Serbia at the end of 2018, many of whom have dual nationality.
History of bilateral relations
In 1919 Switzerland recognised the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which in 1929 became known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. A legation was opened in Belgrade in 1940, upgraded to an embassy in 1957. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Its constituent republics seceded in 1991 and 1992, leaving just the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which in 2003 was officially renamed the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
Montenegro subsequently left the union in 2006. As the only remaining state in the dissolved union, Serbia took over all the treaties signed with Switzerland.