Joseph Lynch has been Ambassador of Ireland to the Swiss Confederation for nearly two years. He has spent almost his entire career in the Irish Diplomatic Service.
He has been posted to many cities and countries around the world, including Rome, London, Beirut, Jeddah, Washington and Brussels. Prior to his current posting, he was Ambassador in Nigeria, a country in vast contrast to Switzerland: "I moved from an enormous country to a small country, from a developing country to one that is very sophisticated. Switzerland has a highly evolved democracy, while Nigeria is in the process of democratising."
Lynch is also Ambassador to the Principality of Liechtenstein and, interestingly, to Algeria. Why Algeria? "Ireland has a small diplomatic service and we make use of double accreditations: this means that an Ambassador resident in one country is appointed Ambassador at the same time to another country, which he will visit regularly. Travel to Algiers from Bern is not difficult," he says,
Swiss News: What sort of impact does Ireland have on the Swiss economy--and vice versa?
Joseph Lynch: The Swiss economy is very evolved. Ireland has been doing well for the last fifteen years or so and I'm interested in wing to promote business contacts. This entails working with agencies like Enterprise Ireland, which promotes overseas exports, and the IDA (Irish Development Authority), which promotes investment.
For an Ambassador it is important to know the key people and to be able to make appropriate introductions. Switzerland is a very important trading partner for Ireland. Enterprise Ireland, the Irish semi-state organisation responsible for the promotion of Irish exports, tells me that, in 2003, Switzerland was Ireland's 8th largest export market and ranked as Ireland's 9th most important trading partner. Irish exports to Switzerland have increased very significantly in recent years, with the highest growth in chemicals, medical and pharmaceutical products, and computer products.
A number of Swiss multinationals, such as Novartis and Roche have operations in Ireland. One can also be invited by Swiss business to talk about the Irish economy because of its growth rate.
You represent the face of Ireland in Switzerland. What are the major issues you have to deal with?
One of the major issues is how things are going between Switzerland and the European Union. Ireland is an EU country, and so the recent Schengen/Dublin referendum vote (approving the free...