Home News Georgian president makes first ever state visit to Switzerland

Georgian president makes first ever state visit to Switzerland

Published on October 15, 2021

Salome Zourabichvili met Swiss President Guy Parmelin and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis on Friday to talk about climate change, economic ties and security in the Caucasus.

The visit to Bern was the first by a Georgian president since the country became independent in 1991, Parmelin’s economics ministry wrote on Friday.

The ministry said economic ties have “advanced despite the pandemic”, although the volume of trade last year stood at just CHF131 million ($142 million) – making Georgia Switzerland’s 103rd trading partner, behind Nicaragua, Malta, and Mauritania.

Switzerland imports “mainly primary products” from Georgia, and exports pharmaceuticals, machines and watches, the foreign ministry says. A free-trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member, and Georgia was concluded in 2016.

On Friday however, talks were also about climate change, with cooperation between the pair to be further formalised at a later stage in a bilateral deal under the Paris Climate Agreement. An energy partnership and a migration partnership are also planned, though no details were given on what these would involve.

Security and development

Switzerland’s main interests in the region remain “peacebuilding” and “improving the living conditions of the population affected by the [Caucasus] conflict”, the economics ministry continued.

On this score, the Alpine nation will contribute humanitarian aid to Georgia to the tune of CHF34 million between 2022 and 2025. Since 2009 – after an armed conflict with Russia over the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – Switzerland has also represented Georgia’s diplomatic interests in Moscow as well as Russia’s interests in Tbilisi.

Foreign ministry statistics on the Swiss abroad show there were 69 Swiss citizens living in Georgia at the end of 2018.