Since the fall of the communist regime, Switzerland and Romania have considerably increased and intensified their relations. Many meetings at the ministerial and presidential level took place, trade exchanges developed tremendously and a promising cooperation in the culture and education strengthened the links between the people of the two countries.
The trade volume for instance has been multiplied tenfold increasing from 100 million CHF in 1990 to more than one billion CHF in 2010. Several bilateral agreements have been concluded in the fields of investment and taxation but also on migration issues, lifting of visa obligation, fight against organized crime to mention but a few. In the scientific area Switzerland supports the “New Europe College” of advanced studies as well as several joint research projects.
Moreover several Swiss and Romanian universities are linked by cooperation programs. Thanks to its cultural tradition and heritage, Romania attracts many artists and performers from Switzerland. For instance, for several years the Enesco festival welcomes the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne. On the other way round several Konzertmeister of the great Swiss orchestra are Romanian and famous opera singers performed in Switzerland.
During the last five years seven official visits took place, four of which at the presidential level. President Leuwenberger came in 2006 for the Summit of the Francophonie, President Basescu in 2007 for a bilateral visit, President Couchepin for the NATO Summit in 2009 and president Calmy-Rey on June 30th this summer. At the end of this year the visit to Bucharest of the Swiss minister of Justice and Police is planned.
In the field of borders security the cooperation has been launched by the agreement concluded in 2007 which implementation is facilitated thanks to the appointment of a security attaché at the Romanian Embassy in Bern. This area includes also projects related to the protection of the victims of human traffic and other kinds of violence.
Hosting an important foreign population, Switzerland greatly values cooperation regarding migration issues. The agreement on readmission of people works perfectly. There is still the question of the integration of Roma people which need to be taken care of by both partners. In its cooperation program, Switzerland has earmarked a substantial amount for the integration in Romania but the situation in Switzerland also requires bilateral cooperation.
Since the end of 2008 Switzerland is member of Schengen and sees positively Romania’s accession; that is why it provided technical assistance to help Romania to fulfill the criteria and participated in the evaluation’s process.
Also inside international organizations, Switzerland and Romania enjoyed a very harmonious cooperation. There is still room for strengthening these relations as for instance in the Organisation de la Francophonie (OIF). Since the Montreux Summit in October 2010, Switzerland chairs the OIF and is committed to promote that forum as an interface to discuss and adopt concerted views and positions between countries linked by the same ideals on the big issues of the international agenda. In the United Nations too the two countries work closely not only to promote their candidates at the head of bodies or institutions but also in the environment and human rights areas, to mention some examples.
From the beginning of the nineties, Switzerland sustained the integration of former communist countries into European organizations by providing cooperation and financial assistance to the transition towards democracy and market economy. The first transition aid program for Romania amounted to CHF 170 million. The present one, launched this year, of CHF 181 million, aims at the reduction of social and economic disparities among EU member states and inside the country.
These two programs have been approved by the Swiss people through a referendum like the free movement of persons between Romania and Switzerland which the Swiss people supported by 59% of the voters on February 8, 2009. It is interesting to notice that, although not being an official member of the EU, the Swiss are actually the only ones who approved cooperation programs geared towards the cohesion of Europe and the only ones to decide in favour of the free movement of persons in Europe since such referenda took place also in the ten countries of central Europe who joined the EU before Romania. As far as Romania is concerned there is a tradition of free movement of people with Switzerland since in 1933 both countries signed a convention on the freedom of settlement for their citizens.
The economic ties are also very intense and continue to develop thanks to the investments of the private sector in constant growth since 1990. There is no doubt that the future of our relations is very promising and has still a big potential ahead. (Article by the Swiss Embassy in Bucharest)