18 October 2020
Official diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Denmark exist since 1920. At first sight, however, their history shows little common ground.
Denmark is one of the oldest European monarchies, as Shakespeare already wrote. As far as is known, the Vikings never entered Swiss territory.
Denmark was never part of the Roman, Merovingian, Carolingian, Burgundian or Holy Roman Empires. Its aristocracy played a dominant political and economic role until the end of the nineteenth century.
That country also governs (autonomous) overseas territories, including Greenland. Denmark is a unitary state; it experienced the aggression of its German neighbour (1864 and 1940-1945).
Its geographical location and landscape are also very different.
And the country is a member of the European Union.
What unites the two countries is their centuries-old commercial spirit, their innovative mentality and scientific interest, their respect for pacta sunt servanda, democracy and human rights and, too, their aversion to megalomaniac projects.
The Swiss scholar Alfred de Quervain (1879-1927) travelled to Greenland in 1912 to do glacier- and climate research.
The data he collected during his seven-week expedition are of importance to climate science nowadays. Switzerland is still conducting glacier- and climate research in Greenland.
In 1887, Switzerland established an honorary consulate in Copenhagen, which was converted into a Consulate General in 1921, an envoy in 1945, and finally an embassy in 1957.
The Danish chargé d’affaires took up his post in Bern in 1918 and in 1920, the first accredited plenipotentiary 1920 took office.
One hundred years later, Switzerland and Denmark still maintain excellent relations. Even their national flags are similar.