Swiss foreign minister to conclude Africa trip

Swiss Foreign Minister Algeria
Photo: Keystone / Youcef Dehouche

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis will conclude a week-long working visit to North and West African states with today’s stop in the Gambia.

Cassis, who travelled to Algeria, Mali and Senegal earlier this week, has emphasised issues concerning sustainability and equitable governance throughout the visit, which comes amidst increasing Swiss engagement in North and sub-Saharan Africa. In prioritising such issues, Cassis’ trip reflects Switzerland’s January adoption of a program for sub-Saharan Africa that aims to heighten cooperation across diverse sectors and in areas other than security. Also in January, Switzerland and the Gambia reached an agreement that heightened enforcement of immigration violations in Switzerland, but simultaneously established new workforce development programs for Gambian migrants.

Expect today’s meetings between Cassis and Gambian diplomats to outline the implementation of the policies the two countries agreed upon earlier this year. In the medium-term, Switzerland is likely to increase its foreign economic assistance to sub-Saharan states in the hopes of promoting profitable trade relations in the region, along the lines of its significant partnership with Senegal. However, expect the considerable influence of the People’s Party, a conservative national political party in Switzerland, to check major overhauls to Bern’s foreign expenditures and continue demanding immigration restrictions.

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