The long-term objective of Swiss cooperation in the South Caucasus is to contribute to a peaceful transition towards democracy and inclusive economic development in the region. Under the current Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2013-2016, the Swiss assistance for the region amounts to around CHF 111 million.

The three countries of the South Caucasus, and former members of the Soviet Union, are in the midst of a challenging transition period taking place in a region marked by conflicts that are hampering prosperity and stability. The transformation to democratic systems and market economies in the Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia requires further reforms, and authorities and societies that are open for change.

Swiss cooperation with the South Caucasus dates back to the devastating earthquake in 1988 in the North of Armenia. Since then, Switzerland has progressively intensified cooperation with all these countries.

Thanks to its long-standing engagement in the region, Switzerland has built strong and trustful relations with the governments and populations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Over the past fifteen years, cooperation programmes initiated by Switzerland contributed to improving the living conditions of the people in the targeted areas and to better functioning institutions. Swiss diplomacy has provided its good offices and supported dialogue processes and confidence building measures to address in a constructive manner the conflicts affecting the region.

Switzerland will continue to assist the three countries in addressing remaining transition gaps in areas where Switzerland can make a meaningful contribution to economic and social development.

The current Swiss Cooperation Strategy, covering the period of 2013 to 2016 was developed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Directorate of Political Affairs (FDFA) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), together with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER).

The Swiss Cooperation Strategy defines three priority domains to which several Swiss government entities contribute each with their core competence: Economic Development and Employment, Governance and Public Services and Human Security and Protection.

Economic Development and Employment is the largest domain in terms of funding. It focuses on market development for agricultural value chains with a stronger emphasis on enhancing vocational skills, improving the framework conditions for the financial and private sectors, and providing livelihood support to vulnerable population.

The Governance and Public Services domain reflects the role of sub-national authorities in fostering regional development (incl. disaster management) and takes into account the transition agenda for delegating more competences to lower tiers of government, developing more democratic processes, and creating a more efficient and accountable state.

The Human Security and Protection domain encompasses support to conflict transformation processes coupled with assistance to cover the basic humanitarian needs of vulnerable population groups. Support is focused on protection, confidence and peace building through mediation, facilitation and political dialogue.

The Small Actions Programme is considered the non-core programme that complements Swiss cooperation. Under the non-core programme Switzerland fosters art and culture as an important pillar of an inclusive and vibrant society, addresses issues related to working migrants and supports small, innovative projects of local organizations with the Small Actions Programme.

Swiss cooperation is aligned with the reform priorities of the three governments. While pursuing an overall regional development goal, Switzerland mainly implements its programme at the national level. Switzerland works with a range of partners, authorities at all state levels, civil society organisations, the private sector and multilateral organisations.