Since Burundi was recognised by Switzerland on 1 January 1962, the day Burundi declared its independence, the two countries have maintained good relations. Micheline Calmy-Rey had previously held talks with the Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza in July 2007, during an earlier official visit to Africa as President of the Swiss Confederation. Switzerland engages in a frank and constructive dialogue with the Burundian authorities, and has been able to pursue this dialogue, especially about human rights, on various occasions – particularly in the context of meetings of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
During Mr Nkurunziza’s official visit, which took place at the Lohn estate on Tuesday, several bilateral topics were discussed, particularly the strenghthening of economic cooperation. Mrs Calmy-Rey emphasized that Burundi is one of the priority countries for Swiss activities in the Great Lakes region (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi). She gave her assurance that Switzerland, which supports efforts to consolidate peace in the region, will remain committed to achieving this objective and to pursuing development cooperation.
Two instruments of Swiss foreign policy – development cooperation and peace policy – are currently being implemented in the region. For the period 2009-12, the priority areas will be peace consolidation and health. At present, between CHF 6 and 7 million are invested in Burundi each year.
On the multilateral front, Mrs Calmy-Rey assured Mr Nkurunziza of Swiss support in the framework of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC). Switzerland currently chairs the “Burundi” Configuration of the PBC.
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