Members of the Swiss community in Bhutan, Bhutan-Switzerland Society, and representatives from the Swiss government and Bhutan government gathered in Thimphu on August 1 to mark the 726th National Day of Switzerland, a long time development partner.

The friendship between His Majesty the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and a Swiss businessman, Fritz von Schulthess, triggered a close relationship between the two countries.

Bhutan and Switzerland established formal diplomatic relations on September 16, 1985. Being small and mountainous, the two countries share many similarities and interests, officials said.

Minister for Security Social Affairs of the government of the Canton of Zurich, Mario Fehr said Bhutan has made impressive progress in democratisation.

“Helping strengthen the process of democratisation means remaining in Bhutan with the appropriate support and projects even until after the third general elections in 2018,” he said.

The president of the Bhutan-Switzerland Society, Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji said that Swiss support to Bhutan over the past four decades has helped the country in socioeconomically and in good governance.

He said that the society is working towards strengthening people to people contact and enhancing the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The Society Switzerland Bhutan has provided support of SDF 12,000 to Kagtong, Barpong, Tashibi, and Tradijong schools in Zhemgang, and Yargala and Yangbari schools in Mongar dzongkhag this year.

The society has also agreed to support solar electric fencing projects worth SDF 10,000 for the communities of Salapong, Barpong, and Kagtong in Zhemgang in 2017-18.

Next month, the next round of political consultations will take place in Switzerland and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay is also expected to visit Bern.

The Bhutan-Switzerland Society and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation organised the event.

To date, there are 26 Swiss citizens in the country. Swiss Development Cooperation closed its office in Bhutan last year.

Staff Reporter