Foreign policy has an increasingly important role to play in guaranteeing Switzerland's prosperity and security. Starting from this premise, the AVIS28 Working Group (from the German Aussenpolitische Vision Schweiz 2028 (Switzerland's 2028 Foreign Policy Vision)) conducted a review aimed at identifying the opportunities and risks that Switzerland must take into account in order to maintain its advantages between now and 2028.
More specifically, the report examines Swiss interests, identifies regional and thematic priorities and sets out proposals concerning the future capacities and expertise of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). It outlines a six-point vision on which the FDFA can draw when shaping Switzerland's future foreign policy. It should be noted that the report is the outcome of discussions by the AVIS28 Working Group, not the FDFA.
According to the six points detailed in the report, by 2028 Switzerland will need to clearly define its interests and priorities, forge closer ties between foreign and domestic policy, focus more on services to citizens and business, better publicise Swiss soft power in promoting a more peaceful world, make new technologies a thematic area of foreign policy and enter into a full partnership with the European Union, short of actual membership.
Speaking at the presentation of the report on Tuesday, Mr Cassis said: "As a committed member of international networks and a host country to many international organisations, it is very much in Switzerland's interests to look to the future and know what path it intends to take." Mr Cassis commissioned the report to spur discussions on the design of foreign policy in the medium term. Thanking the members of the working group, he said that the AVIS28 process would give new impetus, in particular to the development of the Federal Council's foreign policy strategy for 2020–23. The report should also encourage a broad debate and a discussion on Switzerland's future and the measures to be taken in this context.
Among the proposals put forward in the report is the idea of developing a whole-of-Switzerland approach involving all national stakeholders. By incorporating the views of the Federal Council, Parliament, the cantons, scientists, think tanks, International Geneva, business, NGOs and the public, this approach should help to establish a more targeted, better connected and more reactive foreign policy.
The AVIS28 Working Group conducted its work between October 2018 and May 2019. It comprised senior officials from the FDFA, the president of the Conference of Cantonal Governments and experts from the scientific community, business and civil society. Appointed in their personal capacity by Mr Cassis, the experts complemented the FDFA's internal perspective by providing an outside view of the world and of Swiss foreign policy.
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