The meeting’s participants spoke, in particular, about the 7 November elections held in Myanmar, the situation in Zimbabwe, and the conflict in the Middle East. With respect to Myanmar, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Mrs. Calmy-Rey, regretted the fact that despite a multiplicity of political parties, no major advances had emerged that would make it possible to consider the vote as having been free and democratic.
On the subject of Zimbabwe, the Federal Councillor stressed the importance of re-establishing a state governed by the rule of law and of upholding the respect for fundamental freedoms. While continuing to condemn the acts of violence and the politically motivated intimidations in the country, Switzerland has committed itself to promoting programmes of humanitarian aid by earmarking CHF 7 million for the activities of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The projects being developed by the SDC concern, more specifically, food assistance and the fight against the epidemics that are ravaging the country, for instance HIV/AIDS and cholera.
With President Carter, the Head of the FDFA continued intense discussions on the Middle East. Mrs. Calmy-Rey pointed out that Switzerland continues to support the Geneva Initiative which represents the sole detailed model for peace based on a two-state solution. Switzerland is also active in seeking a normalization of life in the Gaza Strip – a subject dear to President Carter – notably in the domains of education and health. In addition, the pertinent actors were presented with a mechanism for access to Gaza, which was drawn up with the help of experts and targets the resumption of import and export activities so as to relaunch the ailing economy.
The “Elders” are an independent group of eminent global leaders who no longer hold office, but who offer their experience and influence to promote peace, reduce the impact of armed conflict on civilians and help alleviate major causes of human suffering. The Elders were brought together by the former South-African President Nelson Mandela in 2007.
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