Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to pay state visit to Switzerland on 18 and 19 February

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Bern, Press release, 12.02.2016

Relations between Switzerland and Tunisia, which have been good for decades, have become much closer since the Tunisian Revolution in 2011. This is reflected in the state visit by President Beji Caid Essebsi to Bern on 18 and 19 February. The visit was originally planned for last November, but was cancelled following an attack on the presidential guard. The programme and the topics to be addressed remain largely unchanged


Talks will cover a range of subjects including Tunisia's transition towards democracy, bilateral economic relations, the Swiss cooperation programme, the dialogue on migration, as well as the security situation and the fight against terrorism. On Thursday the President of the Tunisian Republic will be welcomed by the full Federal Council in the Federal Palace. The official talks between President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and President Beji Caid Essebsi will then take place in the Bernerhof and be attended by further members of government from both countries.

The state visit is a way of expressing Switzerland's recognition of the progress Tunisia has made in recent years towards democracy and the rule of law. At the same time, President Essebsi's visit is an opportunity to further strengthen bilateral relations both politically and economically. The frozen assets of former president, Ben Ali, and his entourage, which are being held in Switzerland, will also be discussed.

A partnership between Switzerland and Tunisia on migration matters has existed since 2012. Furthermore, Tunisia is also a partner in Switzerland's 2011-2016 programme for North Africa. Totalling around CHF 25 million in 2015, Switzerland's commitment in this regard centres around three main areas: the transition towards democracy and human rights; economic development and employment; migration and protection.

Several documents ready to be signed

Several agreements and protocols are to be signed during President Essebsi's visit. As is tradition, a gala dinner will be held on the evening of the first day. On the second day, there will be a round table meeting with business representatives, as well as a tour of a production plant operated by a company with a subsidiary in Tunisia. During the tour, the group will meet with apprentices, providing an opportunity to discuss the importance of vocational education and training as a means of tackling youth unemployment.

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