Mr Cassis' visit to Algeria follows the adoption by the Federal Council of two regional strategies – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Sub-Saharan Africa. The MENA strategy prioritises strengthening relations with countries in North Africa. The current talks provided an official forum for the ministers to discuss the challenges affecting both regions covered by the two strategies. Key issues were peace and security in the Sahel and migration. Swiss and Algerian support for the UN peace process in Libya was also discussed.
Economic cooperation and vocational skills development
On 8 February 2021, Mr Cassis met with Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid. The discussion focused mainly on the current pandemic and the contribution by Swiss companies to reforms under way in the Algerian hospital sector. Two agreements between these companies and the Algerian health ministry were signed in the presence of Mr Cassis and Mr Benbouzid.
Mr Cassis then held talks with members of the new Swiss-Algerian Chamber of Commerce on economic cooperation between the two countries. The new body is expected to support and accompany the Algerian government in its economic transition. The meeting concluded with a visit to a vocational training programme.
Meeting with Algerian parliamentarians
Mr Cassis was accompanied on his trip by two members of the National Council's Foreign Affairs Committee, Elisabeth Scheider-Schneiter and Nicolas Walder, who held talks with the President of the National People's Assembly of Algeria, Slimane Chenine, and other members of the Algerian parliament's foreign affairs commissions.
Close ties with Switzerland
Switzerland and North Africa are connected by their geographical proximity and by cultural ties, particularly the French language. Swiss-Algerian relations also have historical roots. Switzerland's good offices played an important role in negotiating the 1962 Évian Accords, which brought an end to the war and paved the way for Algeria's independence. Switzerland opened an embassy in Algiers that same year. Since then, the two countries have enjoyed very close relations.
Mr Cassis also invited his counterpart, Mr Boukadoum, to pay a visit to Switzerland in the near future. The last time the head of the FDFA was in Algiers was in 2006.
Following his official visit to Algeria, Mr Cassis will travel on to Mali, Senegal and The Gambia.
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