Ambassador of Switzerland to Pakistan
Switzerland borders in the north to Germany, in the east, Austria and the principality of Liechtenstein, in the South, Italy and in the West, France. Switzerland is indeed a place where three distinct cultures meet and blend, each region with own language: German, French and Italian. “The Heart of Europe” as Swiss loves to describe their country, is actually one of the world's smaller countries in case of area. The country has also been called as “land ofmountains” as no other country in Europe has asmany that surpass 4,000 meter and the world's most famous mountain, the “Matterhorn” is also in Switzerland. The country is a confederation of four different languages and cultural regions. What binds them are shared values and goals, most important being security. With Bern as its capital, the country has the priorities of peace, the defence of human rights and the alleviation of poverty. The country has breathtaking landscapes and also an ideal destination for business travelers. To highlight the relationship between Pakistan and Switzerland, TheDiplomatic Insight arranged an exclusive interactive session with Ambassador of Switzerland to Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Christoph Bubb.
Following are the excerpts of interview. Howwouldyoutermrelationshipssincethetimeofinceptionof diplomaticrelationsbetweenPakistanandSwitzerland? Pakistan and Switzerland enjoy excellent bilateral relations based onmutual trust and goodwill. The first diplomatic mission of Switzerland was opened in Pakistan in 1949. Pakistan has an Embassy in Bern, whereas Switzerland has an Embassy in Islamabad, a Consulate General in Karachi and an Honorary Consulate in Lahore. I am confident that the multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries would continue to grow in the days ahead. Whatarethevariousinitiativesthathavebeentakenoverthe years to improve the bilateral relations between the two countries? Both countries share over six decade of friendship and have closely cooperated in several fields. In 1966 they signed a technical cooperation agreement, which was supplemented in 1975 by an agreement on disaster aid. A number of economic agreements have facilitated business activity such as Convention for the avoidance of double taxation signed on 07.03.2007 and Agreement on the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments signed on 06.05.1996. When Pakistan was declared a pr ior ity country for development cooperation, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, one of the wings of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland opened a coordination office in Islamabad in 1977 and has been in the forefront since then. The Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) has invested over time more than 700 million USD in Pakistan through its development programs. Besides direct programs on the ground, SDC is also supporting multilateral organizations such as ICRC, WFP, and UN-Habitat with funds and expert staff. It is noteworthy that Swiss citizens donated over 50 million USD through Swiss NGO's to flood victims in Pakistan. The Swiss Government was also quick in providing relief services during the devastating flood in 2010 and provided 10 helicopters to National Disaster Management Authority for conducting effective relief operation in affected areas. What kind of economic and commercialcollaborationand cooperation Switzerland in currently looking for/from Pakistan? Ans: According to the latest Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum, Switzerland ranks 1st among 142 countries. Switzerland is among the leading foreign investors in