Middle East and North Africa Division

The Middle East and North Africa Division (MENAD) is responsible for Switzerland's bilateral relations with the countries of that region. Its main task is the safeguarding of Swiss national interests in the region. To this end, it coordinates the foreign policy activities of the various federal agencies.  

The division is in constant contact with the embassies, consulates general, consulates, consular agencies as well as Swiss liaison and programme offices in the areas under its remit. It is actively involved in shaping and implementing Swiss foreign policy. It also closely monitors and analyses day-to-day events and political, economic and humanitarian developments in North Africa and the Middle East. 

The main activities of the division in relation to the countries of its geographic area of responsibility are: 

  • Development of policy positions and implementation of Swiss foreign policy at bilateral level
  • Coordination of the international activities of the different departments of the Federal Administration
  • Maintaining a regular dialogue with the representations of foreign states in Switzerland and drafting directives for the Swiss representations abroad
  • Preparation of trips abroad by the head of the FDFA and the State Secretary of the FDFA as well as by the President of the Swiss Confederation
  • Preparation of visits by foreign delegations to the head of the FDFA and the State Secretary of the FDFA as well as to the President of the Swiss Confederation
  • Prepare, coordinate and lead political consultations with the countries of the region when they are held at head-of-division level,
  • Follow up implementation of decisions taken during such visits, discussions and political consultations.

North Africa

In cooperation with other services, the regional coordination unit for North Africa monitors developments and coordinates activities in the countries covered. Switzerland's activities are based on its North Africa programme for 2011–2016, focusing on support for democratic transition and economic development, the promotion of human rights, the protection of vulnerable populations and the establishment of sustainable migration management. Switzerland will continue this commitment with its new cooperation strategy for North Africa for 2017–2020.

Middle East

The regional coordination unit for the Middle East carries out its activities within the framework of the FDFA's Middle East strategy for 2015–2018. The strategy defines the goal of FDFA engagement in the Middle East as follows:
´Establishment of an independent, viable, contiguous and democratic state of Palestine that peacefully and in security coexists alongside a democratic state of Israel, based on the borders of 1967 and international law, as well as a regional and comprehensive negotiated solution for the Middle East conflict which settles all outstanding issues, including borders, Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, security, prisoners and water.’ 

The Syrian conflict is having a major impact, not only on Syria but also on neighbouring countries. A comprehensive strategy defines Switzerland’s engagement in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Jordan. It includes in particular a programme of humanitarian aid for refugees in the region, in which several other offices of the Federal Administration are also involved. It is the biggest humanitarian aid programme that Switzerland has ever undertaken. At the same time, Switzerland is also actively involved in pursuing a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

The Gulf States and Iran

The Gulf States and Iran play an important geostrategic and economic role as well as in terms of energy and security policy. Accordingly, the regional coordination unit for the Gulf States and Iran coordinates the multifaceted relations with this region. Particular emphasis is placed on relations with the two regional powers of Iran (see Switzerland-Iran roadmap) and Saudi Arabia, with which Switzerland traditionally maintains good relations. 

It represents the interests of the United States in Iran within the framework of a protecting power mandate. The Yemen conflict is having an impact on the whole region. Switzerland is particularly active in UN mediation and humanitarian activities.