At the conference in the Tunisian capital, about 50 ambassadors, heads of cooperation offices and of relevant federal offices in Bern discussed concrete forms of cooperation with the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. The discussions were based on the Federal Council’s strategy to support the process of transition in North Africa decided in mid-March 2011.
The conference concluded that in implementing the Federal Council’s strategy, priority should be given to the following three areas:
- Economic cooperation and job creation: A programme designed to train and integrate young people into the job market; cooperation with the private sector and with Swiss companies and business representatives based in the region.
- Restitution of stolen assets and strengthening the rule of law: Following the freeze on assets in Switzerland originating from this region, immediate measures have been initiated to support Switzerland’s relations with these countries at the legal level as well as to facilitate requests for legal assistance. Together with the secondment of expert missions and the organisation of conferences, measures are planned for the medium term to strengthen the legal systems of the individual countries.
- Cooperation on migration: Measures to protect refugees and migrants in the region and projects to harness migration to promote sustainable development (re-integration, involvement of the Diaspora, remittances).
The Regional Ambassadors' Conference was opened by the President of the Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). In her address, she pointed out the importance for Switzerland of the political and economic stability of the countries of North Africa and the Middle East.
During her stay in Tunis, the head of the FDFA had talks with the interim President of Tunisia, Fouad Mebazaa, the Tunisian Foreign Minister, Mouldi Kefi, and the member of the Transitional National Council of the Libyan Republic responsible for foreign affairs, Ali Abd-al-Aziz al-Isawi.
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