Good offices: Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis signs an arrangement for a mandate of protecting power for the USA in Venezuela

Bern, 05.04.2019 - Switzerland is to represent the interests of the United States in Venezuela. Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis signed an agreement to this end with US Ambassador Edward T. McMullen in Bern on Friday 5 April 2019. The arrangement requires Venezuela's approval before coming into effect.

During his visit to Washington at the beginning of February 2019, FDFA head Ignazio Cassis raised the prospect of such a mandate in discussions with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. In mid-March, the US government officially asked the FDFA to undertake a protecting power mandate for them in Venezuela.

This mandate offers Switzerland an opportunity to contribute to the de-escalation of tensions between the two countries and thus play a constructive role in safeguarding regional stability, a stability that is also in the interest of Venezuela's neighbours.

The Federal Council approved the mandate on Thursday 4 April 2019. The representation of US interests concerns primarily consular services in Venezuela. Venezuela will now examine in detail Switzerland's mandate. If it is formally accepted by Venezuela, the Swiss protecting power mandate will then come into effect.

A long tradition of good offices

Swiss diplomacy has a long tradition of representing foreign interests, whereby it covers partial consular services and sometimes also diplomatic tasks for countries that have broken off relations, if requested by the states in question. The Federal Council explicitly highlighted such mandates in its foreign policy strategy for 2016–19 and included a special section on them in its 2018 foreign policy report, recently noted by Parliament.

During the Second World War, Switzerland represented the interests of more than 35 states, which led to over 200 individual mandates. Switzerland currently holds six such mandates, representing the US in Iran, Russia in Georgia, Georgia in Russia, Iran in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia in Iran, and Iran in Egypt. Until 2015, Switzerland also represented US interests in Cuba and vice versa.

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