Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Iraq are good and have become closer in recent years. In its relations with Iraq, Switzerland focuses on humanitarian issues, migration and peacebuilding.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Iraq
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Since the outbreak of the last Iraq War and the continuing crisis in the country, Humanitarian aid has become the focus of Swiss-Iraqi relations
The bilateral relations between Iraq and Switzerland are otherwise characterised by a wide range of agreements in various areas. Switzerland and Iraq have had an agreement on aviation since 1956, on trade and economic and technical cooperation since 1978, and on debt reduction since 2005.
Following the first Gulf War in 1991 and the subsequent sanctions imposed by the United Nations, trade between Switzerland and Iraq came almost to a standstill and only recovered slowly. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Swiss exports to Iraq again collapsed but have since recovered. Switzerland exports mainly pharmaceuticals to Iraq.
Imports from Iraq have traditionally been modest but have increased in recent years, consisting primarily of fuel.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Iraq can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland's development and humanitarian activities in Iraq are set out in its Cooperation Strategy for the Middle East. Its overall aim in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria is to contribute to peaceful and secure living conditions for people affected by conflict and other vulnerable groups, to reduce fragility and to resolve and prevent conflict. Switzerland's activities focus on the following three areas: basic needs and services, protection of the civilian population, and water.
Switzerland has increased its humanitarian aid in Iraq in recent years. Its contribution supports the programmes of partner organisations (aid projects carried out by the UN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and international and local non-governmental organisations). In addition, Switzerland deploys experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit to the region in order to provide technical support to partner organisations.
Swiss nationals in Iraq
At the end of 2018, there were 90 Swiss nationals living in Iraq, more than half of whom were dual citizens.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland effectively recognised Iraq when the Federal Council received King Faisal I in August 1930 following the end of the British mandate. A consulate was opened in Baghdad in 1936, which was transformed into a legation in 1955.
Iraq became a republic on 31 July 1958 and Switzerland recognised the Republic of Iraq shortly after.
The first Gulf War (1991) led to the closing of the Swiss embassy in Iraq. In November 2000, Switzerland opened a diplomatic liaison office in Baghdad to represent its interests, which had to be closed in October 2008 for security reasons.
Since then, the Swiss ambassador in Amman, Jordan, has been accredited to Iraq. Iraqi interests in Switzerland are represented by the Iraqi embassy in Bern.