Official visit of Guatemalan Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros in Bern

(Last modification 27.08.2012)

Bern, 27.08.2012 - On 27 August 2012, Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), received the Guatemalan Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros for an official working visit in Bern. The two foreign ministers discussed bilateral matters, including the projects Switzerland is supporting in Guatemala, as well as current international issues.

Guatemala is currently a member of the UN Security Council. The talks therefore focused on cooperation in multilateral fora as well as Guatemala's priorities as a member of the Security Council. The security situation in Central America was also discussed, as were the ongoing negotiations on a free trade agreement between EFTA and a number of Central American countries. Guatemala has recently decided to take part in the negotiations and has been represented in the talks since the third round in August.  

Even before the meeting on 27 August, the FDFA had informed the Guatemalan government that the Swiss Embassy in Guatemala City would be closed within the scope of a review of the network of Swiss representations abroad. In Bern, Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter informed his counterpart Harold Caballeros that Switzerland's interests in Guatemala would in future be represented by the Swiss Embassy in San José (Costa Rica). Consular services will also be provided in San José. Foreign Minister Caballeros informed Federal Councillor Burkhalter that the President of Guatemala had written to the Swiss Government with the request to review its decision.

These decisions will not, however, restrict Swiss international cooperation programmes with Guatemala. The Human Security Division (HSD) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will continue their activities. Specifically, these activities involve cooperation both with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Office, as well as projects in various fields: strengthening the judicial system, disaster prevention, water, and food security.

The issue of sustainable development was also discussed. Federal Councillor Burkhalter praised Guatemala's contribution to one of the main results of the Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development held in June of this year. The decision to set concrete sustainable development goals (SDGs) was taken on an initiative proposed by Colombia which was supported by Guatemala and Peru. Federal Councillor Burkhalter asked Foreign Minister Caballeros about the Guatemalan government's intentions with respect to the Rio follow-up process and the UN Working Group on SDGs.

Discussions on the security situation also touched upon the problem of narcotics. Alternatives to a drug policy centred exclusively on repressive measures were discussed against the backdrop of drug-cartel activities in Central American countries. Federal Councillor Burkhalter briefed his counterpart on Switzerland's drug policy, which has not legalised the use and sale of drugs, yet since the 1990s, has managed to defuse the situation with the controlled distribution of heroin and other measures.


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