Swiss Foreign-Policy Strategy
Bern, 02.03.2012 - The Federal Council has approved the Report on the strategic axes of Swiss Foreign Policy 2012-2015. It will now be transmitted to the Foreign Affairs Committees of Parliament. Four strategic axes have been defined for the next legislative period. In particular, the focus will be on developing Switzerland’s relations with neighbouring States and with the European Union (EU), on working to enhance stability in Europe and in the world, and on consolidating as well as diversifying Switzerland’s strategic partnerships and multilateral commitment. The Report also deals with supporting Swiss citizens living or travelling abroad.
In this era of globalization, Switzerland is obliged to have a clear orientation for its foreign policy. As the Report on Swiss Foreign-Policy Strategy 2012-2015 approved on Wednesday by the Federal Council points out: “Both the developments taking place in our neighbouring vicinity and the global challenges that go beyond national boundaries, have a direct influence upon our independence, our prosperity, and our security”. This document sets down the priorities for the coming legislature.
Foreign policy aims at defending the interests of Switzerland, i.e., the independence, the prosperity, and the security of the country. It also seeks to promote the values of our homeland: human rights, democracy, peace, the fight against human misery and poverty, and the protection of the environment. Based on these interests and values, foreign policy will unfold around four strategic axes:
- Neighbouring countries: The issue here is to maintain and further develop Switzerland’s relations with neighbouring States, cultivating in particular cross-border relations.
- EU and its Member States: The objective is to enhance and deepen relations with the EU while continuing along the bilateral path. At stage-centre will be the Confederation’s endeavours to safeguard the margin of political manoeuvre on institutional issues, and to defend the economic interests of Switzerland with respect to market access and fiscal matters.
- Stability in Europe and beyond: Stability in neighbouring regions and in the rest of the world will constitute a third priority, implemented by way of international cooperation (development cooperation, cooperation with Eastern Europe, and humanitarian aid), along with activities in the domain of peace-promotion, respect for human rights, and fostering the rule of law.
- Strategic partnerships and global themes: Switzerland will strive to develop and diversify its strategic partnerships with emerging countries, to strengthen its multilateral commitment – notably in favour of global governance -, and to promote international Geneva.
To develop these four axes, the Report on Swiss Foreign-Policy Strategy 2012-2015 takes the following fundamental principles as its basis, i.e., the rule of law, universality, and neutrality. It furthermore adds the notions of solidarity and responsibility.
The Report also dedicates a chapter to Swiss citizens living or travelling abroad, one of Switzerland’s core missions in terms of foreign policy. Today, some 700,000 Swiss nationals are living beyond Swiss borders, and approx. 16 million trips abroad are undertaken every year by Swiss citizens. To provide them with support, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA has restructured and modernized its consular services. A Helpline, functioning as a sort of one-stop shop, and a crisis management centre have been set up. During the course of the coming legislature, plans exist to consolidate the operation of these services and to examine ways in which new, state-of-the-art tools may be able to influence the offer of services proposed to Swiss citizens living or travelling abroad.
As for the financial resources available to implement the objectives of Swiss foreign policy, the FDFA disposes of a budget of CHF 2.9 billion. In addition to the central services, its network is made up of 140 diplomatic and consular representations. For the period 2012-2015, the Department intends to continue putting into place measures to create synergies and enhance efficiency particularly in the domain of consular services and visas.
The Report on Swiss Foreign-Policy Strategy 2012-2015 was created in response to a request of the Federal Council. In point of fact, on 11 May 2011 the Government charged the FDFA with preparing a strategy document to submit to it at the beginning of every legislative period. The request of the Federal Council also complies with a motion of parliament, i.e., no. 10.3212 “For a clear strategy in matters of foreign policy”.
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