Federal Councillor Cassis in East Africa: talks focus on bilateral relations and the regional security situation

Press releases, 21.03.2024

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the FDFA, officially concluded his multi-day trip to East Africa today with a visit to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, following earlier stops in Ethiopia and Djibouti. Mr Cassis' talks with the presidents and foreign ministers of the three countries focused on bilateral relations, regional challenges and opportunities, and multilateralism. The trip also provided important insights for the new Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy that is currently being drawn up.

In adopting the first Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy in 2021, the Federal Council clearly signalled that Switzerland intended to step up cooperation with its African partners. The trip was in line with this strategy and provided important insights for the new Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy that is currently being drawn up.

Global and regional security in Switzerland's interests

Mr Cassis's discussions with the presidents and foreign ministers of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, as well as with the chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, focused primarily on global and regional security issues. These issues are of central importance to Switzerland, among other reasons as it is currently serving on the UN Security Council.

Mr Cassis stressed the importance of finding peaceful solutions to regional and global conflicts. In relation to the war in Ukraine, possible steps towards a peace conference in Switzerland were discussed. Other topics addressed included the situation in the Middle East, security in the Red Sea and the future of Somalia after the AU's peacekeeping mission is concluded.

The conflict in Sudan, which has been raging for almost a year, was another important topic on the agenda. Mr Cassis highlighted the serious humanitarian consequences and the destabilising impact of the crisis on the region, and discussed possible solutions to the conflict. The countries of the region, together with the AU, have a key role to play in this process. Switzerland supports peace efforts and provides humanitarian aid aimed at ensuring food security, improving livelihoods and protecting civilians. In addition to providing emergency aid, Switzerland also contributes to the development of sustainable solutions for internally displaced persons and refugees. The Swiss special envoy for the Horn of Africa is also in contact with the parties to the conflict and has offered Switzerland's good offices.

Closer bilateral relations

In line with the objectives of the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–24, Switzerland is committed to further enhancing cooperation with its African partners. An instrument to achieve this is the modernisation of the network of representations. Alongside Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Taye Atske Selassie, Mr Cassis participated on 19 March in the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the construction of a new embassy in Addis Ababa: "The construction of this new embassy is a clear sign of how much importance Switzerland attaches to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa".

The visit to Kenya coincided with an important anniversary: Switzerland and Kenya are celebrating six decades of diplomatic relations this year. Mr Cassis paid tribute to the excellent partnership between the two countries and expressed his commitment to deepening bilateral relations, with a particular focus on economic cooperation, double taxation and climate protection.

Science diplomacy in Djibouti

On 20 March, Federal Councillor Cassis visited a project in Djibouti aimed at safeguarding the coral reefs of the Red Sea. For the past five years, scientists from across the region have collaborated to study how environmental factors affect these reefs. As Mr Cassis noted, this Swiss-supported project, led by EPFL, highlights the growing role of science diplomacy – the intersection of science and international relations.

Further information:

Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy 2021–24
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Ethiopia
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Djibouti
Bilaterale Beziehungen Schweiz–Kenia

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs