Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis visits Slovenia, Saudi Arabia and Libya

Press releases, 16.11.2021

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will visit Ljubljana, Riyadh and Tripoli from 18 to 21 November 2021. The trip to Slovenia, which currently holds the presidency of the Council of the EU, will provide an opportunity to exchange views on European policy. In Saudi Arabia, the protecting power mandate between Iran and Saudi Arabia will be at the heart of discussions, alongside other issues such as the promotion of dialogue, scientific cooperation, sustainable development, and economic matters including the integration of women in the Saudi labour market. In Libya the focus will be on assessing the current conditions with a view to restoring peace in the country.

On 18 November Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will meet with his Slovenian counterpart, Anže Logar, before paying a courtesy visit to President Borut Pahor. In addition to discussions on bilateral relations and European policy, Switzerland's commitment to the Western Balkans will also be discussed. Since 1991 Switzerland has invested around 3 billion euros to promote stability, security and democracy in the region.

As a member of the EU, Slovenia was one of the beneficiary states of the first Swiss contribution aimed at reducing economic and social disparities in the countries of the enlarged EU. This cooperation will also continue in the context of Switzerland's second contribution to the enlarged EU.

Switzerland's good offices central to discussions in Saudi Arabia

On the evening of 18 November Federal Councillor Cassis will travel to Saudi Arabia, where he will pay a working visit to Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud.

The talks will centre around bilateral relations, human rights developments, and the regional political situation, with a particular focus on the conflict in Yemen. Another key issue will be Switzerland's protecting power mandate. As part of its policy of offering its good offices, Switzerland has been representing Saudi interests in Iran and Iranian interests in Saudi Arabia since 2018. This mutual protecting power mandate gives Switzerland a special diplomatic role in the region.

Alongside his official meetings Mr Cassis will also hold talks with Swiss business representatives, focusing particularly on the integration of women in the Saudi labour market. Saudi Arabia is an important partner for Switzerland because of its significant role in the global economy and in the Middle East.

Ignazio Cassis hopes for return of peace to Libya

After taking part in the Paris International Conference for Libya on 12 November, Mr Cassis will visit Tripoli to assess Libya's progress on the road to stability. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dabeiba, as well as the head of the Presidential Council, Mohamed Mnefi.

The visit follows a successful international conference on stabilisation in Libya that took place in Tripoli last October. The conflict that erupted in 2011 caused a number of major migration crises. Switzerland's commitment to Libya is set out in the Federal Council's Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Strategy 2021–24. Switzerland plays an active role in the Libyan peace process, notably as co-chair of the working group on international humanitarian law and human rights of the Berlin process. It also maintains an active humanitarian commitment in the country.

Further information:

MENA Strategy

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