The good relations between Switzerland and Uzbekistan are largely based on cooperation in international financial institutions and on the SDC/SECO regional strategy for the 2017–20 period. Switzerland also maintains regular political dialogue with Uzbekistan, which is an important partner in water diplomacy.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Uzbekistan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Uzbekistan is a member of the Swiss voting constituencies at the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), since April 2017 at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and since October 2018 at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
As part of its development cooperation, Switzerland supports projects in Uzbekistan improving water supply and vocational education/training and promotes local cultural development.
Switzerland is also active in Central Asia in the field of water diplomacy. The 'Blue Peace Central Asia' initiative promotes regional cooperation on water among the five Central Asian countries and provides political and technical support for transboundary water management initiatives. A consultant based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, coordinates Switzerland's activities in the region.
Some 40 Swiss companies are active in Uzbekistan. The two biggest Swiss investors are Rieter and Nestlé. The volume of trade between Switzerland and Uzbekistan is modest, primarily consisting of gold exports from Uzbekistan to Switzerland, the only importer of Uzbek gold. The volume of the bilateral gold trade amounted to USD 2,4 billion in 2018. Switzerland primarily exports chemicals, machines, pharmaceutical products and watches to Uzbekistan.
The Uzbek-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Switzerland/CIS Joint Chamber of Commerce promote private-sector business exchanges.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Uzbekistan can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars, SERI
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The Swiss Cooperation Strategy Central Asia 2017–2020 groups together projects run by the SDC and SECO. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are priority countries. Switzerland provides assistance to all Central Asian states in the area of water supply.
In Uzbekistan, in addition to water, Switzerland supports the development of infrastructure and wastewater treatment in both urban and rural areas. Approximately 300,000 people benefit from these projects in the Fergana Valley and Syrdarya Province. Another priority of the programme is vocational education and training in the fields of water supply and wastewater treatment. A total of CHF 12.68 million is available for the 2017–20 period. In addition, the embassy monitors the regional water projects and those related to disaster risk reduction.
The Swiss Embassy in Tashkent takes part in joint projects with representations of other countries and cultural institutions based in Tashkent. These include events to promote the Swiss national languages (Francophonie, International German Teachers' Conference) and the International Jazz Festival.
Swiss citizens in Uzbekistan
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 16 Swiss citizens living in Uzbekistan at the end of 2018.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Uzbekistan's independence on 23 December 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 1994, Switzerland opened an embassy in Tashkent. In 2017 the embassy and the cooperation office were merged. Uzbekistan is represented in Switzerland by its embassy in Berlin and maintains a mission to the international organisations in Geneva.
Central Asia and the history of the Silk Road have have long held a special fascination for European travellers. One of the first Swiss nationals to travel the region was the Geneva author and journalist Ella Maillart (1903–97). Her book 'Des Monts céléstes aux sables rouges' published in 1934 was a major success and appeared in English in the same year with the title 'Turkestan solo'.