The African Union (AU) has a key role to play in the opportunities and challenges that exist on the African continent. Accordingly, Switzerland has continuously strengthened its relations with this organisation, where it has had observer status since 2006. As a UN host state, Switzerland is also interested in good cooperation between the AU and the UN. For Pascale Baeriswyl, State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the talks with the AU on 8 April 2019 were therefore an important part of her current trip to Africa.
With Smaïl Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, she discussed the important role of the AU for stability and peace on the continent. With Amira Elfadil, AU Commissioner of Social Affairs, she talked about development and migration and Switzerland's commitment in this area. Lastly, she met Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the AU, with whom she discussed in particular cooperation in peacekeeping operations.
On Tuesday, Ms Baeriswyl capitalised on her stay in Addis Ababa for bilateral talks with Ethiopia. She met her counterpart, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Tekle, for political consultations. Since the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in April last year, Ethiopia has initiated far-reaching reforms and a regional peace dynamic, notably through a peace agreement with Eritrea. Ethiopia's economy is growing by around 10%, but tensions between population groups persist. For Switzerland, the country in the Horn of Africa is a partner with great potential. The latest developments open up many new prospects for Swiss interests in Ethiopia itself, but also elsewhere in the region.
Discussions on bilateral cooperation focused on the economy, migration, democracy and development. They also underscored both sides' willingness to conclude a double taxation agreement as soon as possible and welcomed the launch of direct air links between Addis Ababa and Geneva in 2018. The Swiss delegation also included representatives of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the State Secretariat for Migration. During the stay in Addis Ababa, meetings with representatives of Swiss companies and civil society were also on the agenda.
Participation in the day of commemoration in Rwanda
At the beginning of her trip to Africa on 7 April, Ms Baeriswyl joined the delegation led by Marina Carobbio Guscetti, President of the National Council, at the remembrance ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. They expressed Switzerland's solidarity with the Rwandan people and the victims of the genocide.
In Rwanda, Switzerland is committed to promoting vocational skills development, health and good governance as part of its 2017–20 cooperation strategy for the Great Lakes region. In recent years, relations between the two countries have further diversified and deepened. Ms Baeriswyl's visit is also an expression of this new dynamic.
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