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Middle East and North Africa Division
The Middle East and North Africa Division is responsible for Switzerland’s bilateral relations with the 18 States that make up this geographical region. Its principal task is to safeguard Switzerland’s interests in this region and co-ordinate the foreign policy activities in this region of the different bodies of the Swiss Confederation.
The Division is in constant contact with Switzerland’s embassies, consulates-general, consulates, consular agencies, and liaison and cooperation offices in the countries it covers. It is actively involved in defining and implementing Swiss foreign policy, as well as observing and analysing daily events and the development of the political, economic and humanitarian situations in North Africa and the Middle East.
The Division’s most important tasks in relation to the countries it covers are as follows:
- preparing political positions and implementing Swiss foreign policy at the bilateral level
- co-ordinating the international activities of the various agencies of the federal administration
- conducting a regular dialogue with the representations of foreign states in Switzerland, and preparing instructions for Switzerland's representations abroad
- preparing the trips abroad of the Head and the State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and of the President of the Confederation
- preparing for visits of foreign delegations to the Head and the State Secretary of the FDFA and to the President of the Confederation
To be able to monitor the process of political transition in this region, on 11 March 2011, the Federal Council adopted a strategy defining Switzerland’s lines of action in the region. Since then, Switzerland has substantially developed its commitment, in particular in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, as well as in Morocco.
Switzerland bases its support on the requests and needs articulated by the main beneficiaries, focusing on the transition to democracy, economic development, sustainable management of migration, and the protection of the most vulnerable population groups.
Jointly with the Special Representative for the Middle East, the Human Security Division and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Middle East and North Africa Division actively follows the Middle East peace process and is involved in formulating Switzerland’s position on this conflict and determining its activities in this context.
The countries of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula are playing increasingly important geostrategic roles at the international level in the areas of energy and security policy and as centres of economic power. The region is important for Switzerland too. In addition, Switzerland carries out a protecting power mandate in Iran for the United States.