Implementation of foreign policy strategy: Federal Councillor Burkhalter travels to Turkey, Lebanon and South America

Press releases, 19.05.2016

On 23 and 24 May 2016, the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, will attend the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul and travel on to Lebanon to visit projects supported by Switzerland to provide Syrian refugees with concrete help. On 26 and 27 May, Mr Burkhalter will travel to Argentina and Uruguay for bilateral talks and will meet the descendants of Swiss emigrants in Nueva Helvecia in Uruguay.

Peace and security, promoting human rights, preventing crises, humanitarian aid and developing the network of relations with partner countries are the priorities of the Foreign Policy Strategy 2016-2019. These priorities are also the focus of the two trips Mr Burkhalter will make in the coming weeks to the Middle East and South America.

On 23 and 24 May, Mr Burkhalter will head the Swiss delegation to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. The goal of the summit, which will be attended by some 5,000 delegates from member states of the UN and other international organisations, and representatives of civil society organisations, the private sector, and the scientific and academic community, is to focus attention on the world's enormous humanitarian needs and to draw up an agenda for action by the international community. At various events on the margins of the summit, Mr Burkhalter and the Swiss delegation will also highlight matters of particular concern to Switzerland: compliance with international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law; protection and aid for people affected by conflicts and crises; and more resources and more efficient use of existing resources to assist those in need and prevent disasters and crises.

On 24 May Mr Burkhalter will travel from Istanbul on to Lebanon to visit various projects supported by Switzerland and will take the opportunity to talk with refugees about their situation and needs.

Strategic partners in South America

Following his weekly meeting with the other members of the Federal Council, Mr Burkhalter will travel to South America for talks that will centre on strengthening bilateral relations with partner states. On 26 May, Mr Burkhalter will hold bilateral talks in Argentina, the first federal councillor to do so since 2005. Argentina – Switzerland's third most important economic partner and fourth largest trading partner in Latin America – is a member of the G20 and has recently charted a new foreign policy course that presents an opportunity to expand trade relations with Switzerland and boost investment. Switzerland and Argentina also have a close relationship in other areas, including their shared commitment to human rights. Mr Burkhalter will meet with Argentina's new Foreign Minister, Susana Malcorra, in Buenos Aires.

The day after, Mr Burkhalter will hold bilateral talks in Montevideo with Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa – the first working visit by a member of the Federal Council to Uruguay since 2005. Switzerland and Uruguay, which is currently a member of the UN Security Council, are working together on various matters within the UN. Uruguay is often referred to as 'the Switzerland of South America' and has a long-standing history of close relations with Switzerland. A large number of descendants of Swiss emigrants live in Uruguay to this day. Mr Burkhalter plans to meet members of the Swiss community in the city of Nueva Helvecia.

Further information:

How Switzerland comes to the aid of people forced to flee their homes

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Fax: +41 58 464 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs