President Sommaruga to pay official working visit to Ethiopia

Press Release, FDJP, 23.10.2015

Bern. Ethiopia and Switzerland want to further intensify and strengthen their good bilateral relations. It is with this aim that a Swiss delegation led by President Simonetta Sommaruga will be traveling to Addis Ababa this weekend.

Ethiopia is part of the "2013-2017 overall strategy for the Horn of Africa" and therefore a priority country in Switzerland’s international cooperation efforts. Switzerland is pursuing a comprehensive political approach with its strategy for this region, covering food security, health, migration and protection, rule of law and peacebuilding. Ethiopia plays an important role in ensuring stability and security in this region marred by conflict, and is an important partner for Switzerland. This is why Switzerland wishes to intensify its political dialogue with Ethiopia.

Many different topics will be addressed over the course of this three-day official visit from 25 to 27 October. One important aspect is the aim to intensify bilateral economic relations. As one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, Ethiopia’s aim is to become a middle-income country by 2025.

Migration policy is also part of Switzerland’s 2013-2017 regional strategy for the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia hosts the most refugees on the entire African continent and therefore finds itself as a host country, transit country and country of origin of refugees. Assistance on the ground and protecting refugees in their region are therefore the most important aspects of Switzerland’s migration cooperation with Ethiopia.

Official talks and many meetings

On Sunday, 25 October, President Sommaruga will visit a refugee camp in the east of Ethiopia, in the Somali Region. Switzerland supports the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme in Ethiopia both financially and by providing expertise. Due to Ethiopia’s central role in the Horn of Africa, Switzerland strives to cooperate more closely in migration policy issues in the long term.

On Sunday, the Swiss delegation will launch a new health project in eastern Ethiopia. This project – carried out by Jijiga University and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel – is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Official talks are scheduled for Monday. President Sommaruga will be meeting with both President Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Also on Monday, President Sommaruga will visit a project for Eritrean refugees in Addis Ababa that is financed by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). Meetings with representatives from Ethiopia’s business sector and civil society will also be taking place.

On Tuesday, President Sommaruga will be giving a speech on federalism in the House of People’s Representatives, the Ethiopian Parliament’s large chamber. As the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia encompasses 80 ethnic groups and almost 100 different languages, federalism is an important topic for this country – just as it is an important topic for Switzerland.

The Secretary of State for Migration, Mario Gattiker, and Ambassador Livia Leu, the head of the Bilateral Economic Relations Division of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), will travel to Ethiopia as part of the Swiss delegation. They will be accompanied by Swiss SME representatives who are active in clean technology and green economy.

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