The Ambassadors' Conference has a long tradition. Each year, Swiss ambassadors posted abroad meet in Switzerland for four days. This year, more than 240 participants who represent Switzerland all over the world are expected to attend. The conference of Swiss consuls and honorary consuls, which takes place every four years, and the annual conference of Swiss defence attachés are held at the same time as the Ambassadors' Conference. This unique event is an opportunity to discuss current foreign policy challenges with the entire external network and draw on the experience and expertise of Switzerland's diplomats. "Exchanges between Bern and other countries are held throughout the year, but there is no substitute for the dialogue made possible by the Ambassadors' Conference," explains the head of the FDFA, Ignazio Cassis.
This year's edition will focus on the new 2024–27 foreign policy strategy, which is currently being prepared. Conference participants will learn about and discuss the objectives, new thematic focuses and implementation tools that are being proposed. Contributions on the priorities and content of these strategic documents often result from the discussions at the Ambassadors' Conference.
The considerable global repercussions of two recent events – the COVID-19 pandemic and war against Ukraine – have taken place in a short space of time. "The theme of this year's conference is 'Diplomacy in a changing world' and will examine how Switzerland needs to adjust its foreign policy priorities and strategy in order to address this changing environment," explains conference organiser and head of the FDFA's Prosperity and Sustainability Division, Alexandra Baumann, in the article. Advocating Swiss interests in the face of current global challenges has become more demanding.
Regional and thematic workshops
The Ambassadors' Conference includes regional and thematic workshops in order to debate topical issues such as the war against Ukraine and its consequences for Switzerland, Swiss-EU relations, and Switzerland's current seat on the Security Council.
It is also a good opportunity for Swiss diplomats posted abroad to gauge developments on Switzerland's domestic political scene, thanks in particular to the speeches given by all seven members of the Federal Council. In addition, meetings with business representatives will be held in order to discuss the challenges facing the private sector in today's changing world.
The Ambassadors' Conference has taken place every year since 1887, with the exception of the war years when it resumed again in 1945. Since 2011, the conference of Swiss consuls and honorary consuls has been held at the same time as the Ambassadors' Conference every four years. The 2023 edition in August will therefore see an additional 150 representatives in Bern, who will be debating both political and consular issues as well as Switzerland's communication abroad.
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