2014 is the year that marks two centuries since the start of diplomatic relations between Russia and Switzerland.
Diplomatic ties between the two countries were established in 1814. Until the early 20th century, Switzerland only had consulates in the Russian Empire that handled the affairs of Swiss settlements in Russia and commercial relations.
The first Swiss embassy was established in St. Petersburg in 1906.
After 1917, Switzerland did not officially recognize Soviet Russia. In May 1918, the Swiss government agreed to the presence of an RSFSR mission headed by Yan Berzin in Bern “to maintain actual relations”. The mission, however, was expelled from the country in November of the same year. Diplomatic relations between the USSR and Switzerland resumed on March 18, 1946.
December 23, 1991 witnessed Switzerland being among the first nations to recognize the Russian Federation as a successor to the USSR.
Interestingly, historians note that the first official Russo-Swiss relations were facilitated by Russian Emperor Alexander I. His address to the delegation from the Federal Swiss Seym explained his warm feelings toward the country through words that were far beyond strict diplomatic protocol.
“Since my childhood I have been tied to Switzerland,” the Russian monarch confessed. “Though Russia is so far from you that I have no neighbor-related concerns, I am deeply interested in maintaining your honor and reputation. I was brought up by a Swiss, my brothers and sisters were raised by Swiss men and women, and it is from here that my attachment to your glorious nation arose.” Russia and Switzerland maintain regular political, economic, military and cultural contacts.
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter said in particular that over the past 200 years relations between the countries have been developing on the basis of mutual trust and agreement, and this contributes to joint efforts to enhance international security and peace.
In 2014, Switzerland is planning to host the Season of Russian Culture in their country to celebrate the bicentennial of diplomatic relations between our nations.