Farewell and welcome! At Bernerhof, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis highlights intergenerational complementarity at the FDFA

Press release, 31.08.2021

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis invited retiring and newly appointed staff from three different career paths within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) to a ceremony at the Bernerhof. The event focused on sharing experiences and on how staff of different generations complement each others' work.

"Farewell and welcome: today, we want to symbolically combine the two. Old hands are leaving us and passing the torch to young talent. This generational handover will only meet with success if we connect the two generations," explained Mr Cassis at the opening of the ceremony in Bern.

For the second year in a row, Mr Cassis brought together retiring ambassadors and young staff setting out on one of the FDFA's three career paths – Diplomacy, International Cooperation, and Consular Affairs, Management and Finance.

From yesterday's Cold War to today's multipolar world
"The world has changed since the seniors among you started their careers," he reminded those present, explaining that "we've gone from the Cold War and the upheaval following the fall of the Berlin Wall to a multipolar world with new challenges to security and crises that know no borders."

"The FDFA's Foreign Policy Strategy tackles all of these challenges head-on. Each of you, with your differing backgrounds and experiences, helps us implement this strategy in the interests of Switzerland around the globe," he added.

The Department pro-actively promotes this diversity of talent and experience to mutually boost the potential of the three FDFA career paths, as illustrated by the new ONE FDFA development programme for staff from each path with leadership potential.

Intergenerational complementarity
The event allowed all the participants to exchange viewpoints, share experiences and ask questions. The young staff underscored their enthusiasm about starting this new chapter of their lives, while also stressing that they take the new, daunting tasks seriously. "We are well aware that having now been allowed to take on responsibility, we stand on the shoulders of all the preceding generations," said the young diplomat Julia Stricker. Turning to the two retiring ambassadors Peter Burkhard (most recently Ambassador to Hungary) and Olivier Chave (most recently Ambassador to Uzbekistan), she added her hope that when she herself retires, she will also be able to say that she and her generation have "lived up to the high standards that you and we have set for ourselves."

The implementation of Switzerland's foreign policy is based on strategic documents that guide Switzerland's actions, following up on the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23, and relies on qualified and highly competent professionals. The FDFA has some 6,000 employees in Bern and at its representations. This year, 29 people joined the Diplomacy, International Cooperation, and Consular Affairs, Management and Finance career paths at the FDFA.

Further information:

Goodbye and welcome!
Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23
Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs