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21.06.2011 - Press release
Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey attends the Regional Ambassadors Conference in Doha

The heads of the Swiss Embassies and Cooperation Offices in the Near and the Middle East gathered in Doha from 19 to 21 June 2011 for a Regional Ambassadors Conference. Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs FDFA, also took part in the Conference, which dealt with the current developments and changes taking place in the Arab world and the future Swiss foreign policy in the region.

Hardly had the “Arab Spring” broken out in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, than Switzerland began the delivery of humanitarian aid, froze the suspected illegally acquired assets located in Switzerland, and initiated targeted support for transition on site. Switzerland is strongly interested in the democratization of the entire Arab world and in its stability. Following the events currently unfolding, it therefore also seeks to strengthen its cooperation with the countries of the Near and Middle East.

It was against this backdrop that the participants at the Regional Ambassadors Conference held in the Qatari capital of Doha discussed the possibilities and options of Switzerland’s future engagement in the Near East and in the countries of the Arabian Gulf. More specifically, this comprises continuing Switzerland’s support both for a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the Geneva Initiative and for inter-Palestinian reconciliation. Additional causes for utmost concern, however, are the current situations in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. Plans concerning the countries of the Arabian Gulf, on the other hand, call for the consolidation of both political and economic relations with prominence accorded to cooperation in the domains of energy, research and science.

In Doha, Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey stressed that “Switzerland must make optimal use of all the legal, political, and economic instruments at its disposal to foster prosperity and democracy-building in the region and to assist in the resolution of conflicts”. She added that “this also implies the return of illegally acquired assets to their country of origin as rapidly as possible and in accordance with procedures based on the rule of law”.

In the margins of the Regional Ambassadors Conference, the Head of the FDFA was invited to meet for a talk with the Crown Prince of Qatar.

Contact: Lars Knuchel, Head Information FDFA, +41 79 277 55 60

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