South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan)

Switzerland’s involvement in the South Caucasus is aimed at the needs and priorities of the three partner states in the region, and concentrates on the following thematic focal points: Economic development and employment, good governance and public services, as well as human security and protection. A total of almost CHF 110 million is to be allocated for the implementation of various projects by the end of 2016.

Embassy
Mission / Delegation / Permanent Representation
Consulate general
Honorary representation
Cooperation office
Contribution Office
Embassy with Cooperation Office
Embassy with Regional consular center
Swiss Business Hub
Swissnex
City
Capital
Disputed border
River
Lake

The South Caucasus is plagued by various unresolved territorial conflicts in Georgia (Abkhazia, South Ossetia), as well as between Armenia and Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh). The region is also of considerable geopolitical importance in view of its position as an energy transport corridor from the East to the West. Last but not least, the tense security situation also poses a great obstacle to sustainable economic growth and social well-being in the three South Caucasus countries. In particular, the living conditions of rural populations, internally displaced persons and refugees are often very precarious. None of the three countries are considered to be democratic or “free” in the Western European sense.

In addition to humanitarian aid, the SDC also provides extensive technical assistance with the aim of taking concrete measures to support the ongoing political, economic and social transition in the three former Soviet republics. The 2013-2016 Swiss cooperation strategy for the South Caucasus has been developed together by the SDC, FDFA Directorate of Political Affairs and SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), and is being implemented in a complementary and coordinated way.

Switzerland’s approach to offering support is needs-oriented and based on cooperation. Great value is placed on the sustainability of the assistance provided. Where possible, the needs of both men and women are also taken equally into account. A peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus is also in Switzerland’s best interest.

Swiss contribution on development and cooperation in South Caucasus

Swiss International Cooperation 2014
mill. CHF
2015
mill. CHF
2016 *
mill. CHF
SDC
Cooperation with Eastern Europe and CIS 13.73 17.15 16.20
Humanitarian aid 5.10 4.76 2.10
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
Economic Cooperation and Development 2.98 1.71 2.52
Total SDC/SECO 21.81 23.62 20.82
Other Federal Offices
FDFA Human Security Division 1.11 1.41 1.47
State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) 0.39 0.27 0.12
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) 0.19 0.24 ..
Total other Federal Offices 1.69 1.92 1.59
Cantons and municipalities 0.14 0.05 ..
Total 23.64 25.59 22.41

* planned; total based on available data SDC figures excluding program contributions to Swiss NGOs
.. = figures not available | – = nil or amount < 5’000 CHF

Economic development and employment

Economic growth for the well-being of all

The SDC promotes rural economic development in the three South Caucasus countries with the aim of securing a higher and more stable income for poor farming households. In concrete terms, subsistence farmers are integrated into existing or newly-developing agricultural value-added chains, providing them with access to markets, credit, vocational training and agricultural consultancy services.

The SDC also supports communities in Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia affected by conflict or natural disaster with tailor-made projects to build houses and reconstruct community facilities such as kindergartens and schools. Grants for the self-employed or for small and medium-sized businesses help to improve living conditions for these vulnerable communities, as well as their long-term integration into society.

In Azerbaijan, SECO contributes to improving general conditions for small and medium-sized businesses as well as to developing the financial sector. In addition, the transparency and accountability of public financial management is also being strengthened.

Good governance and public services

Rule of law for the people

Together with the respective central governments, the SDC aims to support the local and regional authorities in Armenia and Georgia in providing these citizen-oriented services and in creating the general conditions necessary for sustainable economic growth in the region. In addition, the SDC endeavours to strengthen capacity to deal with natural disasters within the Armenian and Georgian authorities and amongst the local population.

To improve rule of law in the three South Caucasus countries, the FDFA Human Security Division is financing projects in a variety of fields such as electoral assistance, gender equality and human security in its broadest sense. SECO is promoting sustainable economic growth and economic governance in Azerbaijan, as well as supporting projects to build decentralised facilities for efficient water supplies.

Conflict transformation and advocacy

Human security and protection

The FDFA Directorate of Political Affairs is intensifying its efforts to find peaceful solutions to the various conflicts in the region. This is being carried out through high-level diplomatic initiatives as well as through targeted support for confidence-building measures. Switzerland’s chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2014 can play an important role in facilitating these efforts.

Switzerland also continues to run humanitarian programmes providing assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons together with its international partner organisations, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). By the end of 2016, the SDC Humanitarian Aid department will no longer be operational in the South Caucasus.

History of cooperation

From disaster relief to holistic development cooperation

The SDC’s involvement in the South Caucasus dates back to the devastating earthquakes in northern Armenia in 1988. Since then, the SDC’s work in the region has been continually expanded and intensified. In 1999, the SDC and SECO opened a regional cooperation office in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, and Switzerland now has an embassy in each of the three South Caucasus capitals. Swiss support in the South Caucasus is exemplified above all by its holistic and complementary approach in providing technical and financial support on the one hand, as well as humanitarian aid and the promotion of peace on the other.