Switzerland established regular contacts with the Republic of North Macedonia immediately upon the latter's independence, integrating the new nation in its transition support programme. Today, the two countries' relations are underpinned by Switzerland's significant engagement in development cooperation and the sizeable diaspora from the Republic of North Macedonia living in Switzerland.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–North Macedonia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland recognised the Republic of North Macedonia on 12 May 1993. Matters concerning the substantial community from North Macedonia in Switzerland (family reunification, police cooperation) and Switzerland's keystone development cooperation programme dominate the positive bilateral relations maintained by the two countries.
Economic relations and trade between the two countries remain modest, with trade amounting to CHF 137 million in 2018. There is potential for further development in trade and Swiss direct investment. Switzerland exports primarily chemical and pharmaceutical products and vehicles to North Macedonia and imports mainly textiles and leather, rubber and plastic products. Swiss nationals, mainly those of origin from North Macedonia who have studied or worked in Switzerland, are gradually recognising the advantages and business potential of North Macedonia. Some have set up successful small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their homeland, on their own or in partnership with a Swiss company.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from North Macedonia can apply to SERI for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Since its participation in 1964, nationals of North Macedonia have been awarded 48 scholarships.
As part of its development cooperation with North Macedonia, Switzerland also supports educational projects to combat youth unemployment.
Switzerland has been running bilateral cooperation projects in North Macedonia since 1992 and contributes to regional and international programmes. Its current cooperation strategy with the Republic of North Macedonia (2017–2020) supports reform processes already under way in the areas of democratic governance, the economy, infrastructure and the environment.
Having only recently gained independence, North Macedonia now finds itself in a phase of development and building a national identity. Despite its relative stability and steady growth, as it moves towards integration with Europe, it still faces a number of challenges. Switzerland is supporting the country on this path.
Switzerland participates in various cultural events, notably in the context of the 'Francophonie' and Italian language week.
Swiss nationals in the Republic of North Macedonia
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 357 Swiss nationals were living in the Republic of North Macedonia at the end of 2018.
History of bilateral relations
In 1994, one year after the country gained independence, Switzerland accredited its ambassador in Sofia to North Macedonia and supported diplomatic missions to stabilise the country. Within the framework of the UN, Switzerland provided six police officers to participate in peacekeeping measures, provided support for the 1994 census and helped set up a local radio station for minorities in Skopje in 1995.
Since 1996, North Macedonia has been a priority country for Swiss cooperation with Eastern Europe. Owing to the growing importance of its commitment in the country, Switzerland opened an embassy in Skopje in 2000. Today, Switzerland is a valued partner of North Macedonia and, in addition to the EU programmes, supports the country by providing significant resources in areas where Switzerland has unique expertise.