Bilateral relations Switzerland–Timor-Leste

Political and economic relations between the two countries are limited in scope. Switzerland supports small projects on an ad hoc basis with funds from development cooperation and peace and human rights promotion.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

The Swiss Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, provides diplomatic and consular services for Timor-Leste. Switzerland and Timor-Leste have had diplomatic relations since 2002.

Bilateral meetings between the two countries are infrequent. Switzerland engages in small projects for development aid and human security on an ad hoc basis, as the need arises.

Government of Timor-Leste

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

Researchers who are citizens of Timor-Leste are eligible to apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists (SERI)

Peace and human rights promotion

Switzerland supports small human rights projects on an ad hoc basis, particularly in the area of torture prevention.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

The two countries' main area of collaboration has been in relation to development projects. After the violent clashes of 1999, the Swiss government provided support for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the radio station set up by the Swiss media NGO Fondation Hirondelle.

Switzerland also helps to subsidise occasional small-scale projects in development cooperation, particularly in education.

Regional specialists in disaster risk reduction and disaster management have been based in Bangkok since 2013 to support SDC projects in South East Asia and the Pacific region and to respond rapidly to natural disasters in both regions. 

Swiss nationals in Timor-Leste

There were nine Swiss citizens living in Timor-Leste at the end of 2021.

History of bilateral relations

After 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule and a brief civil war, Timor-Leste was annexed by Indonesia in 1975 shortly after declaring independence.

In 1999, following much violence and bloodshed, the country came under interim UN administration (UNTAET and UNMIT). Switzerland provided extensive support to the victims and contributed financially to the UN peacekeeping forces.

Formal diplomatic relations were established in 2002 with the signing of a joint statement by Federal Councillor Joseph Deiss and Timor-Leste's foreign minister at the time, José Ramos-Horta, at the 57th UN General Assembly.

Switzerland participated in the EU election observation mission to Timor-Leste in 2007, sending two observers to the presidential and subsequently also the parliamentary elections. Switzerland again dispatched an observer for the 2012 elections and also acted as an observer to the parliamentary elections in July 2017.

Last update 14.03.2022

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