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Libya–Switzerland relations are the bilateral relations of Libyamarker and Switzerlandmarker. Prior to a diplomatic dispute in September 2009, Switzerland had an embassy in Tripolimarker, while Libya maintained an embassy in Bernmarker. However, relations were severed following the diplomatic dispute which arose from the arrest of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi's son and daughter-in-law while in Switzerland. Gaddafi publicly called for the dissolution of Switzerland, with the area being split off to various border nations on the basis of language.

Historical relations

Switzerland and Libya developed close bilateral and business relations in the decades following Gaddafi's coup in Libya. Libyan businessmen established bank accounts in Switzerland and trade increased. Libya supplied oil to Switzerland despite the 1982 embargo on Libyan petrol.

Arrest of Gaddafi's son in Switzerland

Relations between the states began to sour in July 2008 when Switzerland arrested Gaddafi's son and daughter-in-law for allegedly beating their servants at a hotel. The two were detained for two days and released. However, Muammar al-Gaddafi retaliated against Switzerland "by shutting down local subsidiaries of Swiss companies Nestlé and ABB in Libya, arresting two Swiss businessmen for supposed visa irregularities, canceling most commercial flights between the two countries and withdrawing about $5 billion from his Swiss bank accounts".To attempt to ease the tension between the countries and get the release of the two Swiss businessmen, Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz went to Tripoli in August 2009 to apologize for the arrests. This was criticized by the Swiss press and public, with numerous calls for his resignation.


Trade between the two nations suffered as a result of the diplomatic dispute, dropping nearly 40 per cent during the first eight months of 2009. Traditionally, Switzerland ships pharmaceuticals and watches to Libya in return for petroleum.


  1. Embassy Tripoli: Visa section closed, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
  2. Embassy of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in Switzerland
  3. Gaddafi's Oddest Idea: Abolish Switzerland Time, September 25, 2009
  4. Oil seen as key to Swiss-Libyan relations HumanRights-Geneva, September 1, 2009
  5. Diplomatic incident eats into Swiss/Libya trade Swisster, September 22, 2009

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