In view of the violations of international law that have been committed in Syria since the beginning of the crisis, states like Switzerland have responded in particular with economic sanctions and diplomatic measures. The Swiss embassy in Damascus was closed in 2012 for security reasons. Travel to Syria is e not recommended under any circumstances due to the security situation.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
In view of the extremely serious situation in Syria, Switzerland is committed to alleviating the suffering of the population, ensuring respect for international law and contributing to a just and lasting political solution. As part of its humanitarian and peace policy and in its capacity as a host state, Switzerland maintains contacts with the Syrian authorities.
The volume of trade between the two countries is very modest.
Peace promotion and human security
The political and humanitarian situation in Syria prompted Switzerland to act swiftly and decisively on several fronts:
- By calling on all parties to respect international law, condemning violations and impunity, and supporting the work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria of the Human Rights Council;
- it provided concrete support to the OPCW's fact-finding efforts (Spiez Laboratory) and destruction of chemical weapons, and also supported the efforts of the special envoy of the UN and the Arab League, including by providing training to representatives of the Syrian opposition.
- it provided humanitarian aid received refugees.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland contributes to humanitarian efforts in Syria and neighbouring countries through direct financial and in-kind contributions to humanitarian actors, direct bilateral actions, and the secondment of technical experts to UN agencies. Switzerland has accepted top receive a quota of refugees from the HCR (500 persons over three years).
Switzerland makes payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to support Palestinian refugees who have fled, including in Syria, following he Arab-Israeli War of 1948.
Swiss nationals in Syria
At the end of 2013 there were 137 Swiss citizens living in Syria.
History of bilateral relations
Relations between Switzerland and Syria were established very early. Crossing Syria, the silk route connects europe with the Near East, Middle East, and the Far East. In the 19th century, textiles and chemical products were exported to Syria and Switzerland imported textiles from Syria.
Swiss traders established themselves in Aleppo, a commercial hub between the East and the West. Syria gained independence in 1941 and Switzerland recognised the new republic in 1945. From 1946 to 1958, Switzerland was represented in Damascus by a chancery office, then by a consulate-general, which was transformed into an embassy in 1962.
Since 2007, Switzerland also has an honorary consul in Aleppo. In 2005, the SDC opened an office in Damascus which has been attached to the regional cooperation office in Amman since 2010. For its part, Syria defends its interests through its embassy in paris and its consulate-general in Geneva.